March 3rd, 2005
One blogger asks what turns out to be a selfless question What have you done for me lately? offering opinions and ideas on giving to your community. Another blog So, what can I do? give suggestions on becoming a virtual volunteer offering concrete suggestions and resources, including virtual volunteering through Volunteer Match – a personal favorite. How do you give back to your community, local, state, national, or global?
What do I do?
I’ve mentioned that I left my job voluntarily October, specifically I left on October 15, 2004, the day the Lance Armstrong Foundation started their 2004 Ride for the Roses weekend for which I raised $5150. The LAF focuses on issues for cancer survivors by funding organizations with more specific missions. Locally, they fund Wonders and Worries which offers support for children with parents who have cancer, and I believe is expanding the mission to focus on any children coping with chronic or life-threatening illness. I am interested in this sort of charity because I have been touched, directly and indirectly, many times by cancer. My father, maternal grandfather, and mother-in-law, died from cancer. My mother is a breast cancer survivor. My son is currently in treatment for leukemia. Our friend Kate is being treated for lymphoma. Scott died from a different type of lymphoma. Martha is a breast cancer survivor, Mike a colon cancer survivor. Many friends, near and far, close and acquaintances, are cancer survivors and many have died from cancer. A lot of money gets spent on research. I think the need is strong for better survivor programs that cover more than just the medical issues. This year, we are focusing fundraising efforts on Spencer’s ride and you can donate to support cancer survivors and Spencer. He’s 3% of the way towards his $25,000 goal. So far, we’ve been doing a combination of passive fundraising by having links here and Spencer gives out LiveStrong wristbands and LAF donation forms to just about anyone who will take them. In theory, I have also started volunteering at the LAF offices, doing envelope stuffing and the like, but I have missed my first two sessions due to Jacob’s hospitalization and ongoing recovery from Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
I have a long history with Knowbility that demonstrates many ways to contribute to non-profits that do work you believe in. My wife uses a wheelchair, so disability issues are particularly interesting for us. Knowbility has a focus on “Accessible technology to support the independence of people with disabilities”. Rachel is very independent and does not have problems with web accessibility, but Knowbility’s mission matches well with our beliefs and my skills. I was part of the group that came up with the rules for the original AIR Austin event before Knowbility was even formed. I participate in AIR Austin and AIR Interactive directly and indirectly through recruiting other volunteers for Team Navanax – an informal volunteer group I run. When hard times hit the technology sector, and charities, I volunteered for Knowbility doing technology work. That turned into a part-time job for a while until I was lured back to the corporate world by the money. We donate money to Knowbility.
What can you do?
Many of my specific organizations are local to Austin, but you can apply the ideas anywhere.
It’s easy if you have money. Naturally, I suggest you go now and donate to support cancer survivors and Spencer, but you should figure out what charities make sense to you. What charities have missions that resonate with your values? What charities serve communities you care about. We also donate to Capital Area Food Bank, Knowbility, the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, the American Diabetes Association the schools that we attended, and a variety of smaller donations. When you give, don’t forget to check if your employer has a matching program. When I was at AMD they matched up to $3000 a year and Rachel’s employer IBM matches.
Many local charities can use your old junk. Cars, computers, clothes, appliances, you name it. If you’re getting rid of something, consider giving it to charity instead of selling it or throwing it away. If you itemize deductions, you get a tax break based on fair market value. I don’t have specific recommendations for ways to donate computers, but a quick web search for donate computer gives some ideas.
For many non-profits, this is the most valuable thing you can give. Find a local non-profit you believe in. If you are having trouble, try using Volunteer Match to locate something.
Give donations in kind
If you run a business, donate some of your product or services to a local non-profit. It’s good for your community and the publicity can’t hurt. Omniscient Turtle donates web hosting to about a dozen non-profit organizations (and a rock band, but that’s another story). Omniscient Turtle is about to step out of the hosting business, but I’m starting a hosting business in my spare time and will be taking over the sites hosted by Omniscient Turtle.
What do you do?
Post ideas. Variations on my ideas. New ideas. Different worthy organizations. Give me some ideas. Share your giving spirit with others.