Charity work is a labor of love and can provide you some of the most rewarding experiences of your life. While the decision to actually dedicate your time to a charity might be a seamless one, the hard question is where and what charity do you devote your time and efforts toward? There are many charities in the world that support good and reputable causes. You just need to discover which one is the right one for you.
Business Philanthropy expert Theresa Roemer offers the following tips on how to find the best charity for you:
1. Ask yourself the hard questions.
Reflect on what tugs at your heartstrings. Is it your children or your animals? Were you or was there ever a person near and dear to you diagnosed with an illness? Write down a few moments, experiences, and events that have impacted you both positively and negatively. This way you can see where you stand.
2. Do your homework.
Based on your passions, go out and research charities that relate to your interests. Find out if the charities you’re interested in are large or small in scope; are they national or international what makes them unique and what are their goals, where does the money that they earn go? Your research will allow you to figure out if you actually want to get involved with that organization.
3. What can you bring to the cause?
Your own background and skills is key to your personal success and sense of reward when you begin to volunteer your time. Make a list of your own skills and what you think you can offer the charity. By going in with a mission you will allow the organization you are partnering with to best benefit from your time. For example, if you have a background in accounting, you may be a great asset with bookkeeping; whereas if you have a marketing background, your skills at promotions and events would really help them soar.
4. Managing your time.
Philanthropic activities can be rewarding, yet time consuming. Figure out how much time you can give to this new commitment in your life. Like anything, you want to schedule this just as you would a business meeting or new project. These groups rely on the generosity of their members’ free time, so if you can’t commit, don’t take on more than you can chew.
5. Ask questions.
Once you’ve found a few charities to get involved with, find some of their local events to participate in. Attend a meeting or annual fundraiser and get to know some of the members. Find out why they like this particular charity and what they feel the goals of the organization are. By understanding how the other members and volunteers see it, you will get a really good sense of this new “family” you would be joining and if it’s a good fit for you.
6. Commit yourself.
When you know that the charity you’ve discovered is a good fit for you, be in it to win it, or as they say in my home town of Houston, Texas, “Go Big, or Go Home.” Make friends and get as involved as you can. If you want to feel the reward for helping people in need, then you’re going to have to commit.
Keep in mind, too, that you can always start your own charity. Rally up your friends and see how you can improve other people’s lives, as well as your own.