THE BLOG
06/14/2013 12:30 pm ET | Updated Aug 14, 2013

Making a Difference: The World of Giving on Father's Day

Father's Day festivities tend to be a familiar sight throughout the United States, as families gather to enjoy a barbecue at the park or cheer on their favorite baseball team. While giving the traditional card and gift, usually a tie or set of golf balls, is a nice gesture, these often overlook the everyday role of fathers and father-figures, and fail to provide a proper "thank you" for how our dads shape our lives' experiences, especially in the areas of philanthropy and giving back.

If you begin thinking about the men in your life, the fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers in your community, you are sure to find countless examples of mentors and coaches. They teach us through their examples and often guide us with their expertise, serving as little league coaches and soccer dads. Many fathers are involved with their sons and the Boy Scouts of America (www.scouting.org) as well as some men who work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org).

One only has to look at "famous" dads to see what men do every day to make a difference. Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington has four children and credits the Boys & Girls Clubs for providing him with the foundation for his success. He has subsequently made several large gifts to the organization and was inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs Alumni Hall of Fame in1993.

Emmy Award-winning actor Joe Mantegna (www.joemantegna.com), the father of two daughters, supports military causes and assists nonprofits helping those with autism, including Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago (www.chicago.easterseals.com). Gary Sinise, father to three children, advocates for the military, veterans and first responders with the Gary Sinise Foundation (www.garysinisefoundation.org).

Actor and Academy Award winner Matt Damon, father to four daughters, raises money and awareness for domestic and international humanitarian issues as a spokesperson for Feeding America (www.feedingamerica.org) and as the co-founder of www.water.org. Another Academy Award winner, Ben Affleck, father to two daughters and one son, raises money and awareness through his Eastern Congo Initiative. And then there is Michael J. Fox, father to four children, who founded The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (www.michaeljfox.org). The list goes on and on.

Professional athlete dads are also philanthropic. Former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie is the father of an autistic son. He started The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism (www.dougflutiejrfoundation.org)to help autistic children and their families. Tennis great Andre Agassi has two children and is the founder of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education (www.agassifoundation.org), which works to give all children quality learning opportunities.

Each day dads are investing money, time and skills in their own kids and the community as a whole, making them a paradigm of philanthropy. So why not honor your dad for the positive impact he is making in your life and the lives of those around you by giving back?

Father's Day can be a great launching pad to celebrate the philanthropic work dads do throughout the entire year. Honor the coaching and mentoring work your father does by looking for opportunities to volunteer with your dad this Sunday. Check with local organizations that plant trees or provide park clean up services. Get the whole family involved by investing time in a project that is close to your dad's heart. This is a great way to spend time with your dad while enjoying a great day outside! Instead of scrambling for last-minute gifts, you can honor a dad in your life by:
  • Supporting a cause your father cares about with a donation of any size in his name - with over 1.5 million charitable organizations, you can easily find a local nonprofit your father will love to support
  • Setting up a fund specifically for someone in need on behalf of your dad
  • Purchasing a gift card at Charity Choice (www.charitygiftcertificates.org), allowing your dad the chance to give "his" gift to over 250 charities

There are so many ways to break the mold of the traditional Father's Day celebration this year. Who knows, you may just start a new tradition of Making a Difference each day to honor your dad!

Subscribe to Must Reads.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with their authors.