The ‘teach me’ series is all about learning how to do things I can’t from clever clog wearers who can. I’m learning so much as we go and I hope you are too! Today we welcome Lisa Humphries from the beautiful blog, The Art of Joy. Lisa is such an inspirational, motivational presence in blog land. She has been squeezed through such a lot to arrive at a place of gentle power – surely the best kind of power there is. Lisa’s power comes from supporting and giving to others. If anyone can teach us about leading a more charitable life, it’s Lisa…
It was the most divine timing and could not be more perfectly me, to be asked by Bron to prepare this post about being more charitable. The benefits of giving are well known, they are hugely powerful. Being more charitable as a family will change the way that you all see the world, and it can save lives too!
The most common misconception about being charitable is that “only rich people can afford it”. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is often those with the least in life who give the most. There are so many ways to be more charitable, and the first step to making a difference is to let go of any negative feelings you have about giving.
The act of giving
The act of giving is quite possibly the most powerful way to turn a bad mood or a bad day around! It was during some of the darkest days of my life that I stumbled across this life-changing discovery. So many people go through life focused only on what they can achieve for themselves, how much money and how many material possessions or ‘things’ they can accumulate as a sign of being successful and ‘making it’ in life.
If only more people knew that by turning this around and “giving as a way of living” would result in more amazingness in this life! The more love, good vibes, laughter, smiles, generosity that you put out into the world, the more you will receive in return – true story!
It is surprisingly simple to live a more charitable life, here are my tried and tested tips.
Choose a charity + donate as a family
Stay with me, please. I know that you are most likely bombarded with requests for donations, by mail, email, phone and on the street. Take a moment to think about every one of those requests. They come from a place of genuine need, for people who are most likely affected by illness, trauma, disaster, poverty, homelessness or something that you and I can only imagine. It is impossible to say yes everytime you are asked (unless you are secretly a squillionaire!).
Sit down with your family and talk about the issues in the world that you care about. It might be animal welfare, cancer, homelessness, children living in poverty, education, the environment. Make a list and donate as much as you can on a regular basis, this will change your family for the better! Think about giving away $1 a day at minimum, I am fairly sure that this is achievable for most people reading this blog. $30 a month is a wonderful, regular contribution to your chosen charity, or you could change the charity each month as a family project.
On a side note, and coming from me personally as a Professional Fundraiser, please never be rude to anyone who asks you for money. It is one of the most selfless, generous and personally involved career choices and it is also really, really hard to ask people for money! I know that those people on the street chasing you down with their clip boards can be frustrating but they are humans too and they are doing amazing things for people in need. Don’t bury your head in your phone or look the other way; smile and let them know that you already donate to another charity and that you hope they have a great day making a difference.
Use social media for good
A lot of charities are now using social media to spread their message, raise awareness and raise vital funds. By adding some charities to your news feed you can make a difference by engaging and helping them to reach more people. The simple act of liking, sharing and commenting can have a huge impact, and of course this is a great way to learn more about their work and click through to make donations.
Here are a few pages that I would highly recommending following (or do some research into your own favourite charities and find them on social media too):
Volunteering is the most amazing hobby! The opportunities are literally endless, most charities have a variety of ways to get involved by donating some of your time to provide a particular skill that you have. This is super rewarding!
For example, you may be excellent and crazy-talented with computers. Some small charities simply cannot afford to employ people to assist with their IT so this is something they would love help with. Perhaps your marketing skills could be utilised by a charity, or your admin knowledge.
Go Volunteer is an amazing online portal created by Volunteering Australia and they currently have more than 12,000 volunteer opportunities listed!
Declutter + give away belongings
Life is a lot less stressful without clutter! Giving away some of your non-essential belongings is a wonderful way to make a difference without spending any money. Do you really need all of those clothes crammed into your wardrobe? Do your kids grow out of things quickly? Those toys taking up valuable storage space could be used by a charity for children living in poverty.
Put aside a day with your family to declutter and donate as many of your things as possible to a reputable charity or charities. Make sure that you are only giving away items in good condition, and never ‘dump’ unwanted belongings in or near charity bins, this actually costs charities a lot of money to dispose of. Be mindful that most people will need clothes, bedding and personal items that are in near-new condition. The added benefit of this family activity is that you can teach your children about living a more simple life, and placing less importance on belongings and material ‘things’!
It seems that everywhere you turn, most people are looking everywhere but outwards. People are focused on their phones, either typing or talking. I am a huge fan of technology and I am often doing these things, however I make sure I take the time to regularly look up!
Just the other day I was standing at the counter of my local café grabbing my morning coffee, chatting to the owner and about to hand over my $4.50 when a woman marched into the café, talking loudly on her phone, straight to the counter and without taking a breath barked her order at the owner, thrusting her money across in front of me. She did not smile, did not look up from her conversation, had no regard for the fact that I was in the middle of my order and a pleasant conversation. I was a little shocked, and thought of the best things to say to her… on my way home. At the time, I could only mumble to myself over and over, “REALLY??”
To me this is the height of rudeness, self-absorption and the opposite of being more charitable! Simply being more aware, taking notice of the people around us, smiling, asking if someone is OK if they appear to be upset, offering to help someone who looks fragile cross the road, carrying bags for your neighbour … being more charitable is much the same as being more kind.
Please leave a link in the comments to a charity you think is well-worth supporting!