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7 Ways to Get Into the Charitable Spirit

Dec. 15, 2015
Personal Finance
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By Jim Ludwick, CFP

Learn more about Jim on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

The recent announcement that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg, would donate $45 billion of their fortune to good works has put charitable giving in the spotlight.

Another technology icon, Bill Gates, and his wife, Melinda, set the stage for the Zuckerbergs with years of their own charitable giving.

These sorts of examples make me think of my own feelings about giving, which I inherited from my father. I remember him telling me more than 60 years ago that I needed to do my chores, and that doing my part would result in a feeling of accomplishment. “You give, then you get,” he told me.

It was years later that I realized his message held a much broader meaning in my life. When I was growing up, we gave our time and our money to good works, received pleasure and satisfaction helping others, and made great friends along the way. I’ve continued these traditions in my own family.

Here are seven ways you can get in the giving spirit during this holiday season.

Ring a bell for the Salvation Army

It’s one of the longest-running charities in our country, and the sounds of the bells and the red kettles are iconic hallmarks of the holidays.

Volunteer at a local food bank

In nearly every community, there are individuals and families who will not have tables full of delicious food. Helping the local food bank will brighten some of these less-fortunate people’s lives.

Send Girl Scout cookies to people in the military

The Girl Scouts are another American institution, and what better way to remind our brave heroes in the military that we’re thinking about them than sending along Girl Scout cookies?

Make an online contribution to your favorite charity

One of the benefits of our connected world is that it’s easy to donate money to deserving causes. Log on and give.

Start your own campaign to raise money for a ‘good works’ cause

While there are plenty of existing and deserving charities, perhaps there is a need you’ve identified that is currently not being served.

Visit a local nursing home

In our fast-paced world, we often don’t make enough time for seniors, who have lived full lives and have wisdom to impart. Visiting a nursing home can brighten the days of the residents. Listening to their stories can brighten your life.

Team up with a friend

Join someone else who needs your help and assistance in their charitable work. Let your close circle know you’re interested in helping with any needs, and opportunities will pop up.

The holidays are a time for giving

As Albert Einstein put it: “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”

I think Bill and Melinda Gates and Mark and Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg get it. You’ll get it, too.

Image via iStock.