Father's Day 2011: Giving Back To Honor The Dad Who Gave To You

06/16/2011 08:14 pm ET | Updated Aug 16, 2011

With this Sunday being recognized as Father's Day, our thoughts often turn to what to get our dads. I challenge you... does he really need another tie? Set of golf balls? Baseball hat? T-shirt?

Instead as Father's Day approaches begin thinking about what your dad has done for you as well as the impact he has had on your family and community.

My father, Bob, drowned 34 years ago. While there are many things I missed growing up without him in my life, I still love hearing stories about him. Recently, my childhood friend Cathy voluntarily shared with me that she remembered how kind my dad was to her and all my friends when they would be at my house to swim in the pool or spend the night... Something I had long since forgotten over time. Just hearing her talk about my dad made a difference and caused me to realize that my dad's kindness had a positive impact on my friend.

My guess is that many of our dads do things that make a difference but are often unseen or unnoticed by us. Let's change that this year. What most of us don't realize is that dads do make a difference in the philanthropic world. Even though we often only think of our moms when there is a need in our community, our dads are often right there lending support if not leading the efforts.

This Sunday as we recognize and honor our dads, let's pay attention to the role they play in the nonprofit world. Think of where the Boy Scouts would be without our dads serving as den fathers and leaders. They are often the ones in the middle of the wilderness teaching their sons how to camp, start a fire, fish, etc. Consider how many dads serve as coaches for T-ball, little league, basketball, hockey and soccer teams. They often give up hours of their time to help their sons and other boys in the community become better athletes.

To showcase the impact and contributions dads have had in the philanthropic world, I have listed some nonprofit organizations that are either focused on dads or dads are heavily involved with the day to day operations.

  • The National Fatherhood Initiative, which according to their website is dedicated to giving our children a better future by educating and engaging their fathers. They believe, and I concur, that "Fathers make unique and irreplaceable contributions to the lives of children".
  • The Wounded Warrior Project was founded by veterans and friends to help returning military personnel. Check out how these veterans, many of whom are fathers, are making a difference to other veterans, who are fathers, too.
  • Most communities have Boys and Girls Clubs. These clubs have been credited with helping many young people through challenges. Today, the Academy Award winning actor, Denzel Washington who is a dad, is the national spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Clubs.

The Boy Scouts has been making a difference for 100 years with thousands and thousands of dads making the various experiences offered memorable. Check out this premier father and son organization.

In addition to Denzel Washington, several other high profile men, who are dads, have taken up the philanthropic challenge including:

  • Lance Armstrong and his creation of the LiveStrong Foundation which funds cancer research.
  • Michael J. Fox and his commitment to funding research to find a cure for Parkinson's Disease.
  • Joe Mantegna is the national spokesperson for the Easter Seals of Metropolitan Chicago which is committed to helping children and young adults with learning disabilities; White Sox Manager, Ozzie Guillen who serves on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago, often teams up with Joe Mantegna to make a difference.
  • WWE Champion, Hulk Hogan, WWE Superstar John Cena, NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have granted 200 wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps children with life threatening medical conditions.

Dads are making a difference daily in the philanthropic world but are not recognized for the level of support they provide. Let's change that. Here are five recommendations and tips on easy ways to honor your Father and Make A Difference:

1. Commit to financially supporting a cause your dad cares about
2. Commit to volunteering with your dad at his favorite charity throughout the year
3. Make a financial donation to a charity that you care about in your dad's name
4. Create a fund or program at a charity in honor of your father
5. If your dad does not have a charity or cause in mind, you could both begin looking for one at either Guidestar or Charity Navigator or checking out those national nonprofits that are Charity Seal Holders at the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.

Bonus Tips: Remember, you can make this family affair by asking your siblings to join you in making a donation to your dad's favorite cause or in your dad's name

Doing something for someone else always adds value to one's life. A benefit for you is that you know you will be honoring your father by honoring what he cares about charitably. And remember, honoring your dad through a philanthropic act or simply telling him what he means to you will truly make a difference.