Yesterday I read a truly inspiring post on The Green Study. In fact, it was the second installment, in what is going to become a series on ‘giving’. Now what every writer knows is, each of us ‘reads’ differently. We read ‘into’ things differently. We all extract a different message, a different meaning.
My ‘take’ on what I’ve been reading is, the author of this wonderful blog is grappling with figuring out how she can support the causes she cares about, in a way she finds meaningful and personally satisfying. Which isn’t always by writing a cheque. Again, let me reiterate. This is my interpretation of what she’s saying. It may not be her intent, at all. You should read them for yourselves. Believe me, you’ll be inspired.
It’s made me think of my own approach. What I do. How. And why.
Sometimes, it is by writing a cheque. I have many friends and family members who have, unfortunately, been ‘touched’ by one
disease or another. A growing trend, at least where I live, is for survivors, and those closest to them, to walk and run and hike and bike, in an effort to raise funds for these organizations; and much-needed research and patient and family support services.
The individual causes may be close to my heart and, then again, maybe not. And it matters not.
What does matter is, the people involved are close to my heart. So I support their efforts by writing a cheque. Not huge amounts of money, but something. Just to show I am participating with them, in their fight. I’m helping them, and their cause. And it makes me feel very good. This form of fundraising has become so popular, I find myself at the point where I have to start donating on a first come, first serve basis. If I don’t, the amount of money I’m giving, is going to total into the thousands of dollars.
While there isn’t a not-for-profit anywhere on the planet where a gift of money isn’t appreciated, and even needed, it’s not always what we can afford to do, or what we want to do. Having said that, though, if it works for you, and if it satisfies you, be assured your generosity will be welcomed with open arms and a whole lot of gratitude.
Over the years, I have discovered I prefer ‘getting involved’. Getting my hands dirty, so to speak. I’ve sat on a couple of Boards. One, a local college with a copywriting program. Obviously a cause near and dear to me. The other, a Foundation started by a woman who was diagnosed with a particular type of cancer which, sadly, killed her, not long after we were up and running.
What I was motivated by, was her mission (and courage, obviously).
Instead of raising money, her plan was two fold: To ‘create awareness’ of a particular diagnostic test which could, in fact, prevent the disease from ever becoming a problem. To create a demand, in other words. To turn the public into advocates and influencers. To make ‘us’ pressure our family physicians into ordering the test. A test that is costly, but definitive. A test proven to save millions of lives. The mandate was to create advertising provocative enough, arresting enough, powerful enough to break through.
To reach people and galvanize them into action. The desired action. It was totally up my alley. I spent my entire career in advertising; and, at the time was running an agency. Which is why she wanted me. And why it was such a good fit for me.
Most ad agencies do pro bono work on a regular basis. Which means they have one or two ’causes’ a year they work with, for free. Since I have been freelancing I have done it as well. On a much smaller scale, needless to say. I will happily write a series of fundraising letters, or emails, or petitions. Whatever is needed, for a period of time. I think carefully before choosing, or saying “yes”. I have to believe in what they’re doing. Because I write ‘from my heart’.
I’ve found this immensely gratifying, because I know my participation is making a real difference. A substantive difference. I have tangible proof of what my efforts have achieved. How much money I’ve helped raise. How many signatures on a petition, I’ve gotten. How many ‘ambassadors’ or volunteers I’ve helped sign up.
Then there is my volunteer work. Every Tuesday I volunteer at a large Toronto hospital. I’ve written several posts about it, so I won’t go into it here.
Suffice to say, I have three different, regular ‘gigs’: An elective, out-patient surgical recovery room. A waiting room where families of patients having major surgery wait for news of their loved ones. A palliative care program, where we deliver light meals to the families of patients who have hours or days to live, so they can spend as much time as possible with their loved ones. The common thread is, these are all high-stress, emotionally-charged areas. Each and every one. It’s what I’m good at. I’m used to it, from all my years in advertising. I’m used to dealing with people in extreme states of anxiety. In very volatile situations.
Again, it’s a great ‘fit’ for me. And here-in, is the key.
Finding fulfillment is easy when you tap into your strengths. When you involve yourself, not only with the causes you believe in, but participate in a way that takes advantage of all you can offer. Not just your money. When you can feel like a valued member of the team. When you can measure your success, in a tangible way.
When you take it personally.