Giving time, love, or a monetary donation has never felt more necessary. Every day, we encounter countless ways to help as we see friends, family, and strangers at home and abroad taking on the hardships that come from living through a pandemic. Although we, too, have likely faced struggles and setbacks this year, one sure-fire way to increase happiness is by giving to others. In fact, studies have shown that giving increases individual happiness even more than receiving!
So, join us as we give time serving, donating, and doing our part. We’ve got the tips you need to create a personalized giving strategy that will focus your efforts and amplify your impact.
Focus your giving
Begin by creating a focus for your giving. And, if it’s appropriate, make sure to involve your whole family. Host a family discussion to set charitable priorities that align with your family’s values, interests, or passions. Determine what issues you want to affect, what population or region you want to serve, and what inspires or upsets you about our society. Nailing down what motivates and inspires you will help you craft a giving mission statement. This should be between 1-3 sentences and hung on your fridge or another common viewpoint within your home for frequent reflection. Having this mission statement outlined will help you navigate your charitable options.
PRO TIP: Get crafty! When creating your mission statement, pull out the markers, stickers, and construction paper to craft something that will not only house your giving mission statement but also hold a fun family memory.
Search within your community
Once you’ve focused your giving and determined the impact you would like to make, look for the organizations and projects you want to support. And don’t forget to think local — There are many organizations in your own backyard that are in serious need of help, as they work overtime to provide relief to those impacted by COVID-19 or to deliver a variety of other critical services. From donating money to volunteering your time– there are many ways you can support your community and give back. If you’re not sure where to start, mtnonprofit.org has a list of nonprofits serving Montanans and their communities
Time is love
One of the very best ways to give back is by giving time! That is why Montana’s Credit Unions chooses to dedicate the month of October to GIVING TIME each year. Through our giving time initiative, we encourage our credit unions and community members to join forces in tracking service hours throughout the month. Providing service doesn’t have to mean large-scale volunteer efforts – simple acts of service can make a HUGE difference within the community and can easily fit within any giving strategy! Try out one of these ideas to get started:
- Rake your neighbor’s leaves
- Make dinner for a family in need
- Deliver someone’s groceries
- Pick up trash at your local park
- Write a letter to a senior – there are many seniors in assisted living centers who have been severely isolated throughout the pandemic. A letter of encouragement and love can help boost happiness levels and lift feelings of isolation.
PRO TIP: Check in with your employer to see if they offer volunteer time off or if they are willing to match your gift/donation. Many employers do, as this has become a key strategy in recruiting and retaining employees.
Speak with a financial advisor or counselor
Thinking about making monetary donations a part of your giving strategy but not quite sure how to fit them into your overall financial plan? Don’t fret, just do the research. A financial advisor can help you strategize your giving and help you work toward reaching your monetary giving goals. Many credit unions have financial counselors on staff, who might serve as a good sounding board as well.
Automate your financial giving
After you’ve reviewed your finances and determined what you can donate money-wise, automating your giving can be the best tool to achieve your financial giving goal. Whether you’re saving a specific amount each month to donate in one fell swoop or donating directly to the charity of your choice— automation is the way to go. Not only is it convenient, but it can be built into your budget to ensure you are staying on track with your other financial responsibilities and plans each month.
PRO TIP: Scan each organization’s website to see if they have a way to set up a monthly donation online (most do). This can make automating your giving much easier.
PRO TIP 2: It’s possible to “automate” your volunteer time as well. If you can, consider scheduling a specific time, number of hours, or task each week (or month). This works especially well if you’re volunteering for specific organizations (and it helps them, too). Put it in your calendar and then show up — it’ll become part of your routine before you know it.
As you know, there are a lot of ways you can go about giving back but creating a giving strategy will help you make a meaningful impact that coincides with your values, your life, and overall financial plan. Now get out there and keep making a difference! Oh, and don’t forget to log your service hours to help us reach our giving goal this October!