At the risk of committing a “humblebrag,” I don’t think charity work has to be a big deal. That’s not to say it’s unimportant, but rather that it can often take far less time than people realize. Many of us encounter opportunities to give a little back in our everyday routines.
It certainly doesn’t hurt when you have an employer that supports your mission. IGS has always been supportive of my involvement in Mustaches for Kids, whether through promoting my fundraising page, being flexible with my volunteer schedule, or (most importantly) with making plain old-fashioned donations. I’ve never worried that my charity work was interfering with my job, but instead feel as though I have been fulfilling a social responsibility that IGS encourages all of its employees to exercise.
So here are some ideas to help you get started in giving thanks:
With zero-effort minimum, many online retailers allow you to make donations during your daily shopping sprees. With Amazon Smile, a portion of the proceeds from that hoverboard and selfie stick you just bought will go to your favorite charity at no extra cost to you. (P.S. IGS is a proud owner of a selfie stick collection!) And the program eBay for Charity allows you to pledge a certain percentage of your beanie baby sale profits to the cause of your choice. The advent of e-commerce has made it easier than ever to give back to a growing number of worthy causes.
Beyond the more passive, everyday opportunities, I’ve found that the best path to rewarding charity work is often whatever you’re already doing. They say everyone is good at something and, if moms are to be believed, each one of us is the best at everything. So take whatever you like to do, or whatever you may already be doing (for work, a hobby, etc.), and use it to help someone else. As a graphic designer, I get asked to make free stuff all the time. Design a logo for my new business. Design a logo for my new baby. Retouch my wedding photos. Retouch the photos of my weird-looking baby. This is how I found my cause of choice.
I was living in middle Tennessee and my uncle asked if I had the time to create a T-shirt for a fundraiser he and some of his friends were participating in, called Mustaches for Kids. Charity drives involving groups of grown men looking progressively creepier may be old hat these days, but this was the innocent, pre-Beiber age of 2007. Growing what little facial hair I could muster to raise money and awareness for local children’s hospitals sounded like a novel way to support a no-brainer cause and look unsavory while doing it. Why stop at doodling a logo when I can contribute even more simply by shaving less of my face?
Mustaches for Kids has since been eclipsed in ubiquity by the more hashtag-friendly Movember, but we’re still growing strong. After a couple years with the Stacheville, Tennessee chapter, I relocated to its D.C. counterpart (supporting Children’s National Medical Center) and have gradually leveled up my involvement, mostly involving things I would be doing anyway: designing logos and signage, forgetting to shave, and dressing up like Star Wars characters. Familiarity really is the key. Becoming involved in a charity can often seem daunting. For some, it’s treated as a second job (and more power to them). For the rest of us, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t become involved. Think of what you’d rather be doing right now. If you’ve made it to the end of this post, the answer is probably “anything.” Whatever you enjoy doing, whatever you’re good at, do just a little bit extra for someone who needs it.