Today is International Volunteer Day – declared by the United Nations to thank the many volunteers for their efforts and to increase public awareness on their contribution to society. November 29th also marked the first #GivingTuesday in the US. This national day of giving marks the start of the annual holiday season, and celebrates and encourages charitable activities supporting non-profit organizations. I can’t think of a better time of year than at the brink of the holidays for these celebrations to occur and bring to light the need in our world . While many of us focus on our own wants that fuel typical mass consumption, it really is a time when all of us can be inspired to help the many others who need it.
Giving back doesn’t mean giving money, however. Volunteering your time and resources can make just as big an impact! Yet with 278 million people across North America, only 12.5 million Canadians actually donate their time and only 62.5 million Americans, according to Volunteer Canada and Volunteering in America. These are sobering stats given that on any given day, there are hundreds of thousands of charities and not-for-profit organizations that are in dire need of the support.
Apathy versus Action
So why aren’t enough of us doing more? Unfortunately, without the rich experiences and connections we gain from actually getting involved, a vicious cycle of apathy forms that’s hard to break. Many of us are too busy, too tired, unaware and just not that inspired to look outside our day-to-day life to see where help is needed.
It’s seeing first-hand, the man or woman at the local soup kitchen eat their only meal of the day that spurs us to go back and help in the kitchen time and time again. It’s the personal impact of a family or friend’s illness that pushes us to run a race and fundraise for a specific cause every year. It’s the camaraderie and spirit that lingers after a day of volunteering with teammates that excites us to do it all over again. Without having these experiences and truly understanding how good it feels to give of our time and ourselves – it’s no wonder more of us aren’t participating!
It’s up to us as individuals to take the first step
The new Softchoice Cares Board is inspiring all of us at Softchoice to take that first step to get involved over the next 18 months. Through its message Be the Change – the board is helping all of us understand that everyone is responsible – whether through participation in a fundraiser, volunteering for a local charity, or bringing forth great ideas – 1300 people can all help keep change in motion.
How will you help keep change in motion and start your own giving journey? There’s no better time than this #GivingTuesday! Here’s a long list of ideas for you to get started! You can also check out VolunteerMatch.org and GetInvolved.ca which match your philanthropic interests with organizations needing your support!