THE BLOG
07/21/2014 10:58 am ET Updated Sep 20, 2014

Two Ways to Give Back to Your Community

Heart symbol in feminine hand. Conceptual design.I have found most people have an inherent desire to help. Not all people, unfortunately, but most. Still, the vast majority has a willingness to help others.

Once you have found an organization you are comfortable with, how do you help them? There are two main ways to consider: Do you support them with a financial gift or do you give your time?

Let's take a look at some of the benefits of both donating money and time.

Donating Money

The best part about donating money is that every organization can use it! Here are some of the benefits to you.

  • Cash donations offer flexibility. This is beneficial because it allows you the option of donating a larger amount to a single organization or you can donate smaller amounts to multiple organizations. It also gives you the choice of making a one-time donation, or continuing donations over a period of time.
  • Donating money is straight-forward. To use an overused expression "it is what it is". The value of what you donate is immediately known to you, the organization and ultimately the IRS. That makes it easy to value and write-off on your taxes.
  • It can save you time. Maybe you are busy at work during a time when an organization could use your manpower. Perhaps you have personal time planned. Donating money allows you to help without neglecting other aspects of your life.
  • Many times donated money may be compounded or matched. Often non-profit organizations have access to ways to increase the value of a dollar donated. A single dollar donated to a food bank for example, may provide $9 in food. Another example is when employers "match" cash donations given by staff to qualifying organizations. So, be sure to ask your HR department if they offer matching, as it can greatly increase the power of donating money.
  • Donating money may allow you to target its use. If you've noticed your favorite organization lacks a good software or computer system, or needs better office furniture, you can donate funds specifically for that cause. This allows you to help the organization in the way you feel is best, and have a personal impact on the non-profit.
Donating Time

Everybody is good at something. So what are the benefits of donating your time, and perhaps professional skills to a non-profit?

  • Donating time gives you a personal connection with the group. One of the terrific benefits of donating time is the connection you get with the organization you are serving and the people involved. It brings the cause home.
  • Your time is valuable. Many will use that as an excuse to NOT donate their time. I think recognizing your time is valuable makes it that much more important to donate it. You may have exceptional skills that can propel the organization to new levels. Your ideas, point of view or manpower may be more significant than any cash donation you may be able to make.
  • Donating time can expand your network. Of course you shouldn't get involved just to expand your network, but it is a benefit. Donating your time can make you more visible and enlarge your personal and professional networks. You will also be dealing with like-minded people.
  • Donating time is a terrific alternative for those who may not have financial resources to help as much as they would like. Spending your time helping improve a non-profit, or in assisting them raise funds is a way to "give big" without writing a big check.
Whether you give money, time or both, you will find a great deal of satisfaction of serving a cause you believe in. Aesop said it simply: "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

Get involved. There is no reason you can't start today!

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