Make social good a part of every day.
By Chelsea Pribble
If you haven’t already, it’s time to take a hands-on approach to social good. Based on a 2015 study by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship, only 25.3 percent of Americans volunteer, and of those people, they only average 32.1 volunteer hours per person per year. While most major nonprofits and causes make volunteer and donation opportunities accessible, there is more to do. Despite your workload, there are limitless ways to take initiative and creatively integrate altruism into your daily life.
There are so many issues to keep up with that it can be stress-inducing. Though you don’t want to wear yourself thin with the weight of the world’s issues, staying informed is vital. If you truly want to help a cause, understanding how and why will inject your actions with meaning and make you a more valuable and helpful contributor. Before endorsing or committing time or money to an organization, ensure its practices are safe and ethical.
Step outside your world.
Get involved in the issues you don’t normally pay attention to or that don’t directly affect you. If you’re an environmentalist, consider looking for an arts-focused nonprofit to support, like Art Alliance Austin. If you’re a man looking to empower women, spread the word about local women’s support groups, like The Society of Women Entrepreneurs, and encourage the women in your life to join. If you’re unsure of what your role should be, start a conversation and ask how you can help. Include your family and friends. Gaining empathy for new causes and involving others expands organizations’ reach and support systems.
Leave no cause behind.
Give to causes in need of funding and manpower. For example, rare forms of cancer and diseases like epilepsy impact fewer people than more widespread extreme heath concerns, so there is less funding for research and treatment. Meanwhile, human-rights groups often get less support than other causes. An example of a unique local nonprofit that might fall under the radar is the SIMS Foundation, which provides access and financial support for mental-health treatment and addiction recovery for Austin musicians.
Go green at home.
Make small daily adjustments and adopt healthier, greener habits to save the planet. Recycling is a great place to start. Use local consignment stores like Uptown Cheapskate to recycle clothing. Research products you buy on a regular basis and boycott anything that is bad for the environment and bad for you. Participate in annual events like Earth Day Austin, through which you can learn to reduce your carbon footprint.
Secure their future.
Find ways to mentor young professionals and students interested in your field. Provide opportunities for students to shadow you for a day and ask questions. Follow up with them and continue to offer support and resources. Programs like Explore Austin make it possible to mentor students from sixth grade through high school.
Connect with others, use social media for good and challenge media and stereotypes. Also, find time to step away from the screen. If you’re donating toys or food to a family in need, look for opportunities to interact face to face.
Lead by example.
If you head an organization or company, attach yourself to a cause. Local wedding-and-event venue Barr Mansion inspires change as the first certified-organic event facility in the country. Everything from the grounds to the food the staff prepares is organic. The business uses the empty acreage on the property to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit used in its dishes. Ultimately, altruism is contagious. If you lead by example, other companies and clients will follow suit.