For generations, the expression, “Tis better to give than to receive” has resonated with most of us, regardless of our nationality, ethnicity or religion. Not because we were told to think that way, or because we read it in a holy scripture, but because the selfless act of helping others nourishes our soul in such a fundamental way.
Within Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen provides an update on the nature of giving, and the art and science of philanthropy. A brilliant book indeed, Laura offers much more than I expected, moving beyond the mere nuts and bolts of charity by tapping into the heart of the giving process.
“Giving is a journey, a calling, a way of living. It’s not a separate part of life – it IS life, turning your beliefs and values into action and impact.”
The impact of Giving 2.0 lies in how Laura weaves a wealth of practical advice & information with examples from her own life of philanthropy as well as other generous givers she’s encountered along the way.
In the process we come to discover a continuous interplay between our ingrained passion to do good in the world and the serendipitous events that arise to feed our philanthropic desires – a most magical process.
Laura also spends considerable time addressing the benefits of giving as an integral part of a compassionate relationship, and a way to teach our children that helping those in need is an important function of our society. Including the entire family within the practice and ideology of philanthropy is a true gift to future generations.
Beyond Money – Giving Your Time & Skills
Often times the cash side of philanthropy becomes the highlight, but as we all know, time is our most precious commodity. In this context Laura reminds us that donating a portion of our time and unique skill-set to a worthy cause represents so much more than can be explained by a dollar figure. Our volunteering makes it personal, for the giver and receiver, as it represents a raw exchange of humanity in which the act of giving is performed live instead of through a financial proxy.
Whether someone is seeking a hot meal and warm bed in a homeless shelter, dealing with the results of a natural disaster, or spending their remaining days in a hospice, there’s no substitute for human contact, someone who cares for your well-being, and offers a smile, handshake or a much needed hug.
But finding the best match for your skills and passion can be a journey unto itself. If you’re lucky, you may already know someone who is working with an organization you admire and is looking for someone with your particular skills, but there are also a number of online services that specialize in matching people and needs based on place, time commitment and talent.
“When it comes to volunteering, recognizing what you have to give is only part of the equation. The other part is finding out what’s needed and how your particular skills, knowledge and experience can help fill the gaps.”
Explore Volunteer Opportunities
Senior Corps – connecting today’s 55+ with the organizations that need them most
Global Citizen Year – an international experience between high school and college
UniversalGiving – helping people volunteer with organizations all over the world
VolunteerMatch – provides great tools that make community involvement easy
Taproot Foundation – business talent for organizations working to improve society
Crowdrise – is about having fun while volunteering & fundraising online for charity
DoSomething.org – one of the largest organizations for teens and social change
Mapping Your Philanthropic Future
If you’re like me, the process of giving is both emotional and unstructured, but in a chapter titled Charting a Course, Smart Choices with Your Checkbook, Laura talks about the wisdom of crafting a strategy for our donations of both time and money, as well as the steps required to make it happen. Are you giving out of a sense of obligation, or from a place of passion and commitment? Do you know what your donations are used for, or do you not give it a second thought?
Figure out what feels right for you and stick by it – but base your choice on knowledge. We put a lot of effort into getting the best return on our personal financial investments – we should apply the same approach to our philanthropic investments.
In closing, I can only say that the impact of this book cannot be underestimated. As we enter a time in our planet’s history when record numbers of people suffer from a lack of food, health services and education, the need for those of us who have the power to give has never been greater, and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen has done us all a great favor by writing Giving 2.0! Buy It – Read It – Live It!