Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Have you ever felt a personal responsibility to help others? Has your success in life ever inspired you to share your blessings? If you have experienced personal success, it is highly unlikely that you have reached that secure position without the help, encouragement and support from others along the way. Even if assistance is not obvious, no one makes it through life entirely on their own merits.
In the words of British mathematician and philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, “No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.”
If you have cultivated a gratitude mindset along the way, you will likely be more than willing – eager – to offer your time, effort and energy to others. The art of giving back is known as philanthropy. Philanthropy does not have to be extravagant; it is a simple, spur-of-the-moment act that demonstrates someone’s care and respect. The beauty in that one small act of kindness is that it has the power to change someone’s life and make the world a better place.
Here are several simple and meaningful ways you can reach out to others and give back to your community:
Offer Your skills
Each of us has a unique set of skills and characteristics. Like fingerprints, we all have them, yet they are completely different from person to person. Are you a business owner? A leader in your industry? A writer? A web designer? A handyman? A coach? Finding out which of your skills are the most valuable to your community and then offering them up to those who can use them is one of the easiest ways to give back.
There are so many ways to devote your time to others and connect with your community. Volunteer at your local school or hospital. Visit a senior center. Coach a local youth team. Tutor a student. Participate in holiday food drives. Serve on a community board. When you volunteer your time and skills, your community is not the only one to benefit. You will likely also be forever changed by the people you meet and the experiences you have.
Support Local Businesses
One of the best ways to support your community is to shop small. Whenever possible, buy from your favorite local establishments, purchase gift certificates, leave them a kind review and give them shout-outs on your social media pages. If you are a business owner yourself, try cross-networking with non-competing business that have similar markets; this will not only allow you to reach a broader audience, but also support other small business owners.
Sponsor or Organize an Event
If you are a business owner, sponsoring or organizing an event or humanitarian tournament is another opportunity to bring about change or help others make a difference. Sponsoring a participant in a local marathon, for example, is great way to show support (especially if the participant is one of your own employees). These events not only draw attention to worthy causes, but they also bring your whole community together and build lifelong relationships.
Empower Local Artists
Arts and culture create opportunities to experience new things and keep your community vibrant and viable for the future. Your local artists are some of the most passionate people you will ever meet. Without them putting their heart into the community, much of what you appreciate and love about where you live would not exist. Going to local events, sharing their work on social media and shopping locally for art first are just a few of the ways you can support your local artists.
Mentor a New Generation of Leaders
Offering up your skills, knowledge and expertise helps to make your community stronger, especially when your mentoring the next generation of leaders. Set aside a few minutes of your day to email them a book suggestion, meet up for coffee once a week or give them credit for a job well done in your company newsletter. By finding out what they truly value and providing guidance, you will help them grow into natural leadership roles.
Encourage Employee Volunteerism
As a business owner, you have an opportunity to create a focus on volunteering within your company. Consider giving your employees a specific amount of paid time off each month, quarter or year for volunteer work. Make it easy for them to say yes to helping others. Placing a spotlight on various nonprofit organizations is another way to inspire your employees and get them involved in your local community.
Benefits of Giving Back to Your Community
Of course, the most well-known benefit of volunteering is the impact it has on your community. But there are also many personal benefits to using your time and energy to make a real difference in the lives of others. Giving in even the simplest of ways not only helps those in need, but also improves your health and happiness. The following list includes some of the top benefits of giving back:
Allows you to connect with others. Getting more involved in your community is a great way to broaden or even create new networks, since it often involves meeting people from different walks of life. What better way to meet people than over common interests, passions and goals?
Boosts your mental and physical health. According to researcher’s discoveries, human beings are hard-wired to give to others. When you volunteer, it counteracts the effects of stress, anger and anxiety; combats depression; and provides a natural sense of accomplishment.
Facilitates greater personal development. When you make it your mission to give back, it exposes you to many opportunities to share your expertise, build upon skills you already have and maximize your potential. You also gain a new perspective and grow as an individual; you are more willing to learn, overcome obstacles and share with others.
Gives you a greater sense of purpose. Because people often give their time and expertise to causes that are meaningful to them, it tends to build a greater sense of purpose. As you pour your energy into a social problem or need you have a special connection to, it will give your life new meaning and direction.
Whether you choose to offer your time, show your support or share your skills, there are so many ways to give back. Each new day is an opportunity to be grateful for those who have helped you achieve your merits, pay them back by paying the effort forward and strive to have a positive impact on your community.