By Guest Writer
on 1.29.09

gp-guide-to-giving2

Here’s one more thing to add to your list of resolutions for 2009 (we know you’ve been procrastinating): Give more. In our minds, there is no better way to advance yourself.

Donating your time or money to a worthwhile cause allows you to invest in something you care about, meet new people, and do something fulfilling. Plus, there are countless deserving organizations that would appreciate whatever you can offer. So what are you waiting for? Press ahead, men, for the Gear Patrol Guide to Giving.

Step 1: Determine what you can give
To give effectively, it’s important for you to understand how much of your time and/or money you are willing to commit to a cause. Be realistic about how much you can set aside, because it’s important for you and your organization to know and plan for your level of commitment.

Also, consider the skills that you bring to the table. Although organizations can always use an extra pair of hands, they may be able to make better use of your specific skills, be they to teach kids or to put up drywall.

Step 2: Identify the issues and activities that you care about
Giving is most rewarding when you’re contributing to something you care passionately about. Think about the issues and activities that will get you most excited to get out there and give. There are opportunities to help out related to virtually every cause that you may be interested in, so don’t rule out anything.

Step 3: Find an organization
Once you’ve figured out what you can give and what gets you excited, find an organization that matches both. Your very best source for information is your own personal network, so ask a friend about which organizations they work with. At the least, this should reignite their sense of civic duty. Sometimes companies have charity matching programs, so ask your HR department. Also, check out volunteer websites like the HandsOn Network, Network for Good and VolunteerMatch.

For those of you with more time and experience, consider serving on a nonprofit board. A good place to start is BridgeStar.

Step 4: Make a difference
As with all things, giving is best done with all your heart. Bring enthusiasm to your organization and commit to doing your part to change the world for the better. We’ll see you out there.

A few of Gear Patrol’s favorite volunteer organizations:
Habitat for Humanity
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Room to Read
Heifer International
New York Cares
charity: water
Wikimedia Foundation
ASPCA
ACLU
American Red Cross
Planned Parenthood
Kiva
Operation Interdependence
Young Life

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