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How to Start Giving Back

I’m currently preparing for a talk on giving, specifically on how we can show up for non-profits and charities in a year that has been as challenging as 2020. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on this topic, about how I show up, and what wisdom I can lend to others on a topic I am so passionate about.

Edmonton event planner values

Philanthropy is a core value for me, it is also a core value for Elevate, it is emblazoned on my heart and I truly try to bring it into everything I do. I gaze at the word every day as it is on my Values wall. “ Philanthropy ~ We believe in giving back financially and through awareness building, and by elevating the voices of those who need a platform” The value of giving weaves through me, through Elevate, and into Bee Together where purpose and passion are a core value and how we strive to connect our client events to a greater purpose with passion.

So all these words, yes, words are important, but words and education without being tied to action, really are ineffective. Action is key, action is where we actually put good intention and inspired thought into motion. Action is where a lot of people and businesses stall out. They stall out because of resource constraints, whether that be time, money, or energy and sometimes it is a feeling of overwhelm, and sometimes it is the feeling of desperation to protect all that is yours to get through trying times. I am not discounting any of this, rather I want to open up a new pathway of thinking.

As a person, partnership, business, or organization how can you show up for causes that matter to you when there are so many other demands on all of your resources?

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First, I encourage you to take a step back, allow yourself to elevate beyond the day to day for a moment and connect with what truly matters to you. Think about all of the moments when you’ve read an article, heard a story, or saw a social media share about a certain issue… stops you in your tracks, it lights a fire in your soul, it connects to a place deep within your being, it angers you, it makes you tear up, IT CONNECTS. THIS is your starting point.

With so many worthy causes and organizations, we simply cannot be a champion for all of them. This is not to say we can’t support them, that we can’t believe in the work that they are doing, it just means that we are choosing to put our resources into the causes and organizations that truly resonate with us. Every cause has its allies, choose yours with your heart. When you choose a cause in this way your passion and commitment will shine through to people when you speak about it.

I want to make an important distinction between cause and organization. When I reference a cause it is the bigger issue, for example, domestic violence, human trafficking, mental health, heart disease, ovarian cancer, autism, or one of the many other worthy causes locally, nationally, or globally. When I reference an organization this is the non-profit, charity, or agency doing the work directly related to the cause that is important to you. For example, WINhouse is a charity in Edmonton that provides resources and support for women and children fleeing domestic violence. ACT Alberta is a provincial charity that works to provide advocacy, education about, and support to victims of human trafficking. Sometimes I do work that supports the cause as a whole and sometimes I do work that directly supports the organization doing the work, which contributes overall to the work being done for the cause.

Next is to think about the ways in which you can support the cause and organization. It’s important to think outside the box on this, especially in times such as 2020 when so many have their resources tapped in a way that they never have before. Below is a list of 5 ways you can show your support:

1. Financial

Donate. Do your research into how you can best support the work being done. Is that through a direct donation to the cause, or to a local, national, or global organization that is doing the work on the front lines to support the cause? Some things to consider, do you want your donation dollars to stay local? Do you want to support the work being done on the front lines or the research, education, awareness, what specifically do you want to support, or does that part matter to you? Do you want a tax receipt? These are just a few of the considerations to make before donating your dollars.

2. Awareness

Not everyone is in a position to support financially but it is important to know that you can still have a significant impact. One of the ways to have this impact is to help in increasing awareness. You can do this in so many ways including:

  • Sharing posts about the cause on your social media

  • Sharing posts from the organization you support on social media

  • Doing social media lives and videos to share some important facts that you’ve learned

  • Attend events and share about events that the organization is hosting

  • Bring the topic up when you’re in conversation with friends, family, co-workers. Not only is this a great way to spread awareness it also leads to deeper and richer conversations with those around you.

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3. Education

Continue to educate yourself through reputable sources. Read articles, watch documentaries, watch videos, learn about organizations supporting the work, read stories from survivors, take classes, anything! And then SHARE!

4. Time

Many organizations are understaffed, all the time, let alone during a global pandemic when funding and donation dollars are even further reduced. You can support the work of an organization through volunteering your time, find out where they need help and commit. While you are there ask questions, continue to learn and connect to the cause and the work that the organization is doing.

5. Skills

This walks beautifully alongside time, but it goes deeper. What skills and specialities do you have? Can you bring these to an organization? For example, maybe they need help with data entry, event planning, donor relations, finances? What do you love and what are you good at? Figure out a way to support non-profits with your skills. Are you a business owner with an underutilized workforce at the moment? Could you donate your staff’s skills and time to support struggling non-profits in speciality areas?

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to start! Start donating, start volunteering, start sharing, educating, and spreading awareness. Start small, but start! And be consistent. Your commitment will be a source of inspiration to those around you and will connect you to something bigger than yourself.

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” Howard Zinn


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