We started out November with the idea that our family would give away $100 every day to a different nonprofit. We encouraged you, our community of readers, to also spend this month focusing on donating money, time, things, or even just your thanks.
So what did we learn from this experience?
There are opportunities everywhere to give.
Early in the month, I wondered if we would spend a lot of time as a family researching different charities to support. I also questioned if we would need to brainstorm different types of organizations to involve our kids in the process. We learned that it doesn’t need to be that complicated since there are opportunities everywhere to give.
But you don’t always see them.
While opportunities to give are everywhere, sometimes they are hard to see. Many of us are used to tuning out these needs, perhaps because we are so caught up in our own daily lives. Yes, there are organizations and causes we are all personally attuned to, but there are a lot of other causes we don’t pay attention to unless we look.
You begin to see opportunities when you actively look for them.
As is true for so much in life, when you start looking for something, you see it everywhere. For example, when you buy a new white minivan, you suddenly see white minivans all over the place.
I was surprised how often during the month I received emails or pieces of mail from nonprofits and had charitable giving topics come up in daily conversations with co-workers or friends. These often provided a lead to the organization our family would choose to donate to that day.
Giving every day can be overwhelming.
My family is incredibly fortunate that we were able to participate in Giving November and give away $100 each day. However, it felt a little overwhelming at times. Some days the number of different organizations to give to felt unending. Other days, we struggled to make time to even talk about it as a family.
It is easy to get stuck on a cause.
It is great to have causes that you can prioritize, but it is easy to get stuck on only those priorities. Whether the issue you care most about relates to food scarcity, racial equity, empowering women, or slowing climate change, it is easy to get stuck and focus solely on one issue.
For example, my children wanted to focus all of their dollars on organizations that supported animals. “Are there charities that help animals without homes? What about dogs that are sick? What about cats that are hungry?” They love animals, so it was easy for them to focus all of their energy and dollars on these causes.
By expanding your giving priorities, you grow as you give.
Just as we pushed our children to think beyond their boundaries of animal-focused charities, we pushed ourselves to support organizations beyond our usual priorities. By learning more and giving to these organizations, we grew as individuals. We increased our empathy and learned more about things we can do in our everyday lives to give back and improve the world.
There is a lot to do, but together we can make an enormous difference.
It was surprising to me how many small nonprofits exist that run on shoestring budgets. Even a small donation from a few sources can literally save lives.
When we all make a little more room in our lives to support others, we can truly change the world.