Get Out and Give Back – A Giving Guide

Guest Blog

By Jane Hess Collins

‘Tis the season for giving! Giving, whether through time, money or both, brings its own special joy through the connection it gives us with the rest of humanity and the knowledge that we have made our community stronger. Giving is always an investment, and this time of year the requests for giving are as plentiful as Christmas cards. 

With so many nonprofits receiving less financial support from foundations or the government, they have stepped up their efforts to ask us to donate more of our dollars (or time, in some cases) with them, and even the toughest among us have a hard time saying, “No, thank you.” Who wants to turn down an opportunity to feed a hungry child or rescue an abandoned puppy?

Nevertheless, none of us has the resources to support all needs all of the time. Even the wealthiest people and organizations in the world focus on giving to specific causes. 

And, that is the key! If we can focus on what needs appeal most to our core values, it will be easier to support the nonprofits that address those needs and respond with a guiltless “no” to the others.

I developed an acronym to help you out. It’s not an exact science but it will get you started. The acronym spells “GIVE” so it’s easy to remember. Let me know if this is helpful to you.   

G = Give a set amount of time or money each month or year. How much is up to you. Generally speaking, larger donations to fewer charities carry more impact than smaller donations to many of them. But, once you have established your giving amount, whether it’s your time, money or both, stick with it.

I = Find a cause that interests you. This can be harder than it sounds, because most causes strike a chord with us somewhere and we don’t want to turn them down. Even small charities know how to tug at your heartstrings. Start by looking at where you normally give, and why.  Is the reason still relevant to you?  What interests you?  What do you love to do?  What would you do with your time and money if you had both in abundance? If you do turn down an opportunity to give, don’t feel badly about it. Someone else who believes passionately in that cause will say “yes.”

V = Value what you already do. Many people don’t realize that the youth coaching, scout leading and Sunday school teaching they do is part of giving back. For parents, any activity they share with their kids (or other kids) that helps them to grow up to be independent, responsible and generous is giving back at its best. Don’t try to add more to the schedule. You’re busy enough already.

E = Evaluate the charity or cause for its impact. What organizations give you the best return on your money and time? You can also look them up at and review their tax filings and other information. If you want to donate money, volunteer a few times with them first. Talk with the executive director or board members. They should be able to discuss their mission, impact and long term strategic plan. And most of all, listen for their enthusiasm about what they do. Your instinct is always your best guide.

Get out and give back (and good luck)!

Jane Hess Collins helps and encourages people to give back through her volunteering, writing, speaking, coaching and workshops. You can follow her other Get Out and Give Back volunteer stories on Facebook, Twitter and her website. If you’d like her to volunteer with your organization, contact her here.

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One Response to Get Out and Give Back – A Giving Guide

  • Thank you, Jane, for this guest blog! I love your acronym and advice. To me, it's easier to give as one becomes more grateful. And my new book — Gratitude Power for Runners and Walkers — can help anyone, including the most casual walker, to become more grateful. I am giving away up to 20 copies in an "I AM GRATEFUL." photo-submission contest that I am running until midnight tomorrow, 30 November 2011. See for details.

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