Oh! Audrey .. if only I could be and do just a tiny little smidgen of the goodness and difference you made in the world! I am in complete awe of the impact this beautiful petite human with the enormous heart had on the lives of so many people, and continues to have through her legacy. Charity may sound like something that you can’t afford, don’t have the time for or simply don’t consider a priority. If this is the case, I hope that I can lovingly convince you that it is an essential part of living a fulfilling life.
It was during the darkest times of my life that I discovered the power of giving. I spent most of my late teens and 20s in hospitals, as my Mother lived with her brain injury and breast cancer. My life until that time had been relatively simple, the concept of trauma was foreign to me. As I struggled to accept my new reality, rebelled against being a carer and made more mistakes than I care to count, I also slowly began to grow. It is true that our darkest times can become our greatest lessons, as much as it sounds like a well worn cliche.
In typical teen fashion it had been all about taking, and for most of my 20s it was all about survival. It was during my healing, learning-filled and slightly more developed 30s that I realised how important it was to give. I discovered an abundantly rewarding career in charity, and the hugely powerful act of living a life focused on having a positive impact. All of this now translates into being more naturally kind, always looking out for ways to help others, jumping at the chance to donate when I connect with a cause, and raising charitable children.
Charity is not confined to the out dated notion of throwing some coins in a tin being rattled. Charity is so much more than that .. it is about becoming a more charitable minded and giving person. Social media and technology have given us the power to make a difference at the click of a mouse, taking action has never been easier and it can be truly global if you choose. The benefits of giving are huge, the incomparable high that comes with this act is something that I cannot recommend ‘highly’ enough!
I am unapologetic about banging on about the responsibility we all have to give back. Funnily it is often those who have the least who give the most to charity, so there really is no excuse not to do something. I have continued to donate on a regular basis to several charities and causes even whilst adjusting to a huge drop in income recently. It is a non negotiable in my life, for my own wellbeing and my values, and as a parent who leads by example.
If you don’t know where to start, here are a few ideas that I can guarantee will change more lives than you can imagine, including your own:
♡ I am going to be bold and say that everyone who is reading my blog can afford to give away $1 a day. It is not a lot of money for those of us lucky enough to live a comfortable existence. $30 a month given every month to a charity is called Regular Giving, and as a Professional Fundraiser I can tell you that this is the most impactful way to give. I currently give $30 a month to Solemen in Bali, and the impact that this haves is simply amazing. Child sponsorship is another wonderful monthly giving option and The Smith Family support our own Aussie kids in need. Helping a charity like Canteen to support children living with cancer is life changing, and the process of choosing a charity is an amazing family project.
♡ Be a little more charitable in small ways, sometimes the small acts of kindness can change a life. Take the time to really notice the people you work with, your neighbours, the people you connect with online. Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for 15-44 year olds? If we all took a more charitable approach to those around us, those closest to us and looked outwards more than inwards I believe that we could change this heart breaking statistic. Smile more, say hello, ask people how they are, listen, offer to help.
♡ If you have a friend or colleague who is fundraising through an activity such as a fun run, walk or event don’t just delete their email or scroll over their Facebook post, please. It is not necessary to donate a huge amount of money, the power of online fundraising is that it reaches more people, and every cent really does count. It may be that you can only contribute $5 or $10, don’t question the amount, don’t feel embarrassed or bad at all, just give what you can, it is better than giving nothing at all.
♡ Volunteering some of your time is another amazing way to change your life, and make a difference. If you have a particular skill or talent, dedicate some of your time to giving it away. My social media skills are fairly well developed, it is an integral part of my professional life in Fundraising and Marketing, so I choose one charity that I commit to pro bono/free of charge. Currently it is the Gidget Foundation, who raise awareness of and provide support for families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression. Most charities need volunteers and have varied opportunities, everything from stuffing envelopes to telephone counselling for Lifeline, which I have also done, and loved!
♡ Integrate charity and the concept of giving into your family life and routine. The world needs more charitable people, and as parents we are responsible for shaping the future of our world. By the age of 4-5 your children are well and truly ready to learn about giving and kindness and charity. This is a wonderful resource for ideas, activities and family based actions that can easily be adapted to suit your family. Utilise books, pamphlets, the web and social media to share ideas for giving with your family, do this at meal times or create some regular projects around the theme of giving and making a difference. Encourage your children to put some of their pocket money or savings into a special family collection for your chosen charity and then take them through the process of donating and learning more about your impact.
What do you do for charity?