It’s easy to get so caught up in both the joys and obligations of the holidays that we don’t make time for things that are personally fulfilling…things like supporting the causes we believe in! The fact is, each of us can make a difference right now. Here are four great ideas for helping to change the world – and spreading a little holiday cheer at the same time.
1. Instead of a tie for dad or earrings for mom, make a financial donation in their honor!
Why waste precious time searching for the perfect gift for the person who has everything? A gift “in honor of” a loved one shows them you care, while helping make a difference for a worthy cause. Be it $20 or $50 or $100, financial donations of all sizes give non-profit organizations the most flexibility to respond when challenges arise. Whether it’s the Red Cross responding to a home fire on a cold winter’s night or your local animal shelter overwhelmed by unwanted “Christmas puppies”, having money in the bank empowers them to take immediate action. Donating is quick and easy: most organizations accept donations online (and the Red Cross will even send a card or ecard to your honoree to let them know about your gift when you donate online).
2. Feeling like the holidays are too material? Take time to volunteer!
Do you worry that your kids are too focused on getting gifts and not thinking about others during this season? Help restore the balance by choosing a volunteer activity for your family. Volunteers extend the reach and bandwidth of a non-profit’s staff, making the entire organization more effective. Volunteering is personally enriching, too: volunteers can grow in empathy, develop new skills, and make friends. Your family can help deliver holiday meals to senior citizens, or wrap toys that have been donated for underprivileged kids. If the thought of fitting yet another activity into this busy time is overwhelming, plan ahead to the spring and participate in Sound the Alarm, where your family can spend a day helping the Red Cross install free smoke detectors in homes that don’t have them.
3. Share the spirit by getting your entire network involved in fundraising!
So budgets are tight with all the gifts you have to buy, and you’re too overscheduled to be able to volunteer. But you’re a sociable person with a network of friends, family and colleagues and you’re always looking for ways to bring them together. Be the catalyst that motivates your social network to support a great cause! The Red Cross makes it easy to hold an online fundraiser through Crowdrise – simply set a goal, tell everyone why you’re fundraising, then put your network to work! For a more analog approach, have your friends and acquaintances sponsor you in a charity ice skate-a-thon or – if you’re generous and brave – a polar plunge! Fundraising among your social network is a one-two punch of raising awareness of an issue that’s close to your heart while multiplying your financial impact beyond what you could achieve from your own budget.
4. The best gift may be the one you give of yourself!
Sometimes the most needed gift isn’t money or time but something more personal and precious. By donating blood or platelets you can literally save lives – restoring holiday joy to the family of an ill or injured person. Another way to be a lifesaver is by getting certified in CPR – online and in-person courses make it easy to fit into your schedule, and you’ll be ready to give back when help is needed. Heading to the salon before your holiday parties? You could help ease a cancer patient’s fight by donating long hair for a custom wig. And please consider signing that organ donor card if you haven’t already. Whichever you choose, you’ll experience the magic of giving to someone when they need it most.