I’m about halfway through my 30 Days of Giving project, and having done some sort of giving each day – from volunteer time to monetary and goods donations – I can tell you that it’s a lot easier to give your money than it is to give your time. This premise applies to many things, not just charitable giving; in fact, parenting comes to mind, when sometimes parents find it easier to just buy their kids lots of stuff than actually spend time with them, which is far more valuable.
But I digress. Some may take issue with the title of this post, because let’s face it: Nonprofit organizations depend on money. Big money endowments. And I am not in any way belittling the value of that. In fact, in my experience the people who have huge amounts of money to donate, are often very involved in the nonprofits they support, often serving as board members and in other capacities. Money is the lifeblood that keeps nonprofits going. But for individuals, from the giver’s perspective – writing a check is a lot easier than giving your time to a cause. When you give your time, to anything, it says “I value this; it is important enough to me to give of myself.” Food for thought.
Here is where I chose to focus my giving over the past five days:
Feb 17: I wrote a letter to Santosh, the boy in India whom I have helped sponsor and support since 2004 through The Miracle Foundation. He lived at the orphanage I volunteer at each year, and which I wrote about in my book, The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India. I was distressed in 2008 to learn that his father had taken him out of the orphanage and sent him a few hours away to work, at the age of 15. (Yes, kids living in orphanages often have parents; they are orphaned by poverty or abuse, not death). On my last visit to India in October/November 2010, I was delighted to be able to visit with Santosh and encourage him to return to school. I still keep up with him and try to support him. I sent him a letter with some photos we took and a few rupees.
Feb 18: Continuing my India theme, today I donated my time to volunteering for The Miracle Foundation. I wrote an article for an upcoming issue of their newsletter – you can subscribe to it here!
Feb 19: I write for a magazine out of Seattle called Outdoors NW. My editor and publisher there, Carolyn Price, will be participating in an event called The Big Climb on March 20, to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Big Climb is a stairclimb up the Columbia Center – the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle. Carolyn lost her nephew, Trevor, to leukemia in 2002 – he was 12 years old. “Trevor’s life touched many,” Carolyn says. “500 people show up at his memorial, which was on the baseball field where he played his games. It was covered on TV and the newspapers. Since that day, his town of Sammamish has awarded a Trevor E. Price Award to a young person who has demonstrated the traits that Trevor had: a good student-athlete and a friend to all, were just a couple of the criteria. They say you never get over a child’s death and my experience is that this is true.”
Feb 20: I have been a longtime supporter and donor at Kiva, the brilliant microfinance organization that empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending. Every single penny of my Kiva loans have been paid back, and so today I reinvested my last loan payback, to Sok Phat of Cambodia. She lives with her family in Siem Reap province, known for its world-famous Angkor Wat temples and a place Keith and I visited last October. Sok wants to use the money so her husband, a motorcycle taxi driver, can purchase a new motorcycle. Keith and I took numerous cycle rickshaws to the temples, making friends with some guides who work hard for their living.
Feb 21: I donated 5 new children’s books to Austin Bat Cave, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center that connects a diverse population of young writers and learners with a vibrant community of adult volunteers in Austin.
Until next time!