We all know that to give is to receive so much more in return, but did you know that more than a third of us working moms are considered active volunteers? I was once a member of those ranks, doing park cleanups, hiding Easter eggs, working bake sales. I once even led a seven-week early-morning enrichment class at my daughter's elementary school (that last one was a stretch).
'Tis the season for giving back -- and for remembering that years ago I seemed to have more time (and money!) to give all year 'round.
But as my family life got busier -- and work did, too -- my personal "give back" efforts shrunk. In the newest issue of Working Mother magazine, we asked experts to share their best advice for serving the greater good by giving money, yes, but also our time.
Here are our six best tips for giving back that we learned:
Zoom In: Focus on one or two organizations and direct the bulk of your contributions to them. If you scatter your donations, they don't do quite as much good as a couple of single, larger gifts.
Research Carefully: Go to sites like guidestar.org or charitywatch.org to learn which charities have proven track records and spend at least 75 percent of their money on actual programs.
Get Kids in On Giving: Explain to your kids that to help others, they can allocate a part of their allowance to the charity of their choice or raise money.
Charitable Charges: Use affinity credit cards like One PacificCoast Bank's Sierra Club Visa and Target's REDcard that donate a small percentage of their fees to good causes.
Powerful Products: Similarly, shop at community-minded retailers like TOMS Shoes and Red.org partners (Apple, Bed Bath and Beyond, Starbucks), which make substantial donations to nonprofits.
Work Together: Volunteer as a family, including helping at your local library, grooming at a shelter, cleaning up at the parks, or serving as ushers -- just to name a few.
That last one is my favorite. Our Working Mother experts noted the value of volunteering as a family -- something that I can consider now that my kids are a little older. I think the time is right for us to work together on a cause we all value. Indeed, I'd love to hear your suggestions for the best ways to volunteer as a family! In the meantime, I wish you and yours all the best for a wonderful holiday season.