By Katherine Olivetti
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”
― Kahlil Gibran
Whether the support you offer is money or volunteer participation, it’s important to find the right charity and the right way of giving for you. Ask yourself: What are my values? What do I care most deeply about? What are the most important needs? Almost all charities do good work, but you want to find those that are aligned with who you are and what you care about most.
Being a giver can enhance your life. Researchers at the Harvard Business School report that “Social scientists have identified a host of ways in which charitable behavior can lead to benefits for the giver, whether economically via tax breaks, socially via signaling one’s wealth or status, or psychologically via experiencing well-being from helping.”
In addition, research by social psychologist Liz Dunn and her colleagues appearing in the journal Science shows that “people’s sense of happiness is greater when they spend relatively more on others than on themselves.”
I have a friend who is the head of development for one of the country’s most important cultural institutions. I recall how intrigued I was this philanthropy expert said that each giver was different and wanted something back for the giving. I had a naïve idea that all the giver wanted was the tax advantage and credit for being a donor. I was so wrong. Yes, some wanted those things, but many wanted hands-on involvement or the opportunity to be part of the institution in a way that took advantage of their strengths and competencies.
Moving into the next chapter of your life, it is worthwhile to think about these questions:
• What matters to you most?
• What charity supports your deepest level of caring?
• What do you want others less fortunate to have?
• What philanthropic endeavor needs your skills and strengths?
• What aspect of charitable giving would you be proud to tell your friends about?
• How much time are you willing to give to a cause or causes you believe in?
• What do you like to do? Read about?
Answering these questions can help you find your way in a world populated with multiple good causes to the cause that needs you in particular.
This area of exploration and discovery is one of many topics LIFE REINSPIRED helps Baby Boomers address in planning the next, best chapter of their lives—the one after they’ve completed the completely engaged work life. If you’re interested, check out the other aspects of our program.
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