Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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How to Give to Charity With Little or No Money

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 3.15.05 PMIt’s the beginning of the year, so you may feel a little financially stretched after the holidays. Or, you may be like a lot of people who would like to give more to charity, but feel you lack the ability or resources. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of ways to give with very little or no money involved. All you need is the desire to do so.

One of my heroes, Sheryl WuDunn states in moving her TedTalk, “Research shows that once you have all of your material needs taken care of, there are very few things in life that can actually elevate your level of happiness. One of those things is contributing to a cause larger than yourself.”

So here are 10 easy ways that I’ve come up with to add a little more happiness to your life. I challenge you to pick one and get started this month. What have you got to lose? Probably something you won’t miss anyway.

  1. Use Charity Miles to earn money for charity when you walk, run or bike.
  2. Donate your hair. I’m actually in the process of growing my hair out in order to donate it, and have had a few friends do the same. I’m still doing research on which charity to give it to, so I’ll keep you posted. But this is a great way to support cancer patients, by providing hair that will be turned into a wig.
  3. Through Fit for Food, Fitbit and Feeding America have teamed up, along with Joel McHale, to donate meals to those in need. You burn calories via Fitbit, they give.
  4. Donate things like airline miles to a charity who can use the travel bonus for their staff or beneficiaries.
  5. Spring clean. Like me, you probably have way more stuff than you need. But chances are, someone else may want or need it. Clean out your home and donate your excess to Goodwill or another local charity. I recommend giving to places where you can actually meet the recipients. This will motivate you to de-clutter on a regular basis knowing that there is a real need, and a real face, that needs your clothes and household items. And if you need any motivation in this area, I suggest you read 7: A Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.
  6. Have extra…anything? If you’re like me, you’ve stayed in a hotel at least a few times. And what’s your most popular and consistent souvenir? Probably the toiletries. I had a gallon+ Ziploc bag of unused toiletries. Then I found out that the organization I volunteer for can use those items in their weekly outreach. The same goes for blankets, suitcases and things like that for people who may not have a permanent home. Realistically, you can probably find a charity for anything you have. You just have to look, and ask.
  7. Don’t use your smartphone. The UNICEF Tap Project will help give clean water to children in need when you open their app or page on your smartphone and leave it alone. Each minute without you using your phone results in a larger donation. (It will drain your batter, though, so keep it plugged in while running.)
  8. Give consistent time. This is probably the idea that first came to mind. But, besides money, it’s probably the item you feel you have the least to give. And that’s ok. As we’ve pointed out, there are other ways to be a solution. But, before you dismiss it, let me say two things. First, we prioritize what matters to us. If you really want to volunteer your time, you can likely carve some out during your week or month. It just has to matter enough to you. Second, you might want to check with your favorite charity to see if there is an option that fits your current lifestyle. You don’t know until you ask. For example, through Out of Darkness, I write letters monthly to a woman in a long-term recovery program. It’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time given my schedule and other conflicts, but it provides her with a source of comfort and encouragement consistently each month.
  9. Give inconsistent time. Maybe you have a skill that can be utilized infrequently, that would still be a huge help to an organization. Like to clean or organize? Are you a business professional that can consult? Do you have first-hand industry knowledge that could benefit others? Can you teach a seminar? Have a couple extra hours one month to run errands? I’ve had friends do all of these things. And I personally consult on public relations, advertising and social media for my friend’s organization. I probably only do it a couple of times each year for a few hours, but it’s beneficial to them.
  10. Buy well. There is no shortage of this topic on this blog. I’m a HUGE proponent of utilizing the money you’re already going to spend on something that has a bigger (and better) impact. Luckily, we see this form of social enterprise everywhere now. This can be anything from clothes to dinner out to eyeglasses to comforters to chocolate to sports gear to flowers to .  . . really almost anything these days. You get the point. It’s easy to do. It may take some habit changes in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll become a pro in no time. And you’ll feel better about where your money goes each month, which is priceless. Here are some resources to get you started. And, I’m an avid Amazon shopper, so when I use that site, I use Amazon Smile to donate to my local charity.
  11. One to Grow On: Give your life event. Charity Water can probably be credited with starting this movement, but many others have done similar things. If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you have a birthday. You may even have an anniversary, or something else you celebrate regularly like a holiday. Those are super easy ways to let others in on your desire to give and tell them about your favorite organizations. Charity Water asks people to donate their birthdays by setting up pages on their company website in order to help build a well from small donations in lieu of birthday presents. I’ve seen similar things for Christmas presents, and even read about a couple who asked their wedding guests to make small financial donations to their favorite org instead of bringing gifts. Last year, I had my friends donate $10 Chick-Fil-A gift cards to Out of Darkness for my birthday. This way the women could be taken out of the house for a treat without it being a financial strain on the house moms, staff or budget. As discussed above, I can imagine that you, like me, have enough. So, why not use these events as opportunities for others to have enough as well.

 

Well, that’s my list. What else did you come up with, or have you done? And if you do any of these, or anything else, let me know how it goes!

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A Look Back at My 2013

92419672Wow, ok. It’s already the end of 2013. How can days move so slowly, but years move so quickly? Today I had one of those moments where I tried to remember back to my teens, looking ahead to what I thought life would be like in the year 2013. I don’t remember exactly what I pictured for myself at this time, but I can tell you it’s not what I’m living. It’s funny how that happens. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s just different. In many ways, I’m a different person than I was in my teens, so how could I have predicted correctly?

The even funnier thing is that I’m not 100% the person I was 11 months and 18 days ago when I began this year. I, like you, am an ever-evolving being. And I kinda dig that. It’s fits well with the side of me that likes to learn.

Travel back with me, if you will, to January 11th when I launched my theme for the year—SIMPLIFY. Oh, what a day—full of excitement and hope and possibility! It was a good day.

So, now, on December 18th, what do I make of the past 11 plus months? Progress.

I will brag on myself that this was probably the best job I’ve done at keeping my theme in front of me. I had books and discussions and reminders galore. This theme was not going to pass me by! Or maybe after five or six years, I’m just starting to get the hang of things. 😉

I definitely made some improvements.

  • I got rid of quite a bit of stuff. Unfortunately, new items also made it home as well. But the new did not outweigh the old. For clothes, it has really helped me want to get rid of things when I see the faces they will go to and know how much it will help them.
  • I got off some email lists. I went mostly vegan a couple of months ago, though, so I signed up for a bunch of new ones. I need to get off a few of those because, let’s face it, Pinterest is mostly a wish list and not a to-do list for me. But I have not missed any of the lists I removed myself from.
  • I paid down some debt, and will meet my personal goal by the end of the year. It ain’t over, but it’s less, and that matters.
  • I focused on two primary volunteer activities with Not For Sale Georgia and Out of Darkness.
  • I started volunteering in my church’s children’s ministry so I could meet some more people since I’ve been sick so much and unable to join a missional community.
  • I wanted to continue my writing, and this blog has mostly served that purpose. I’ve come close to meeting my goal of writing something every week.

Curve balls:

  • I STILL deal with mono everyday. It’s been over a year and a half now. The truth is, it’s quite a bear to rebuild your immune system. I’ve seen a lot of improvement, but it’s not over yet. That is definitely a goal for 2014. It has really hindered a lot of things, but again, there has been some change for the better.
  • Despite paying down debt, I have to get a new (to me) car next year. Unforeseen and unfortunate. But I’m trying to be smart about it.
  • I started out strong with my eMeals and Bible reading plan, but got behind on both and switched to other things. I am renewing my commitments here for 2014.

So, that’s it. That is my 2013 in a nutshell. Did I SIMPLIFY? Yes, I believe I did. I made progress. I lived this year with intention. I gave more of myself in many ways. And, yes, I did a little hell-gate prevailing along the way, I’m proud to say.

But I still have almost two weeks left, and I intend to finish well. Or maybe well-er. 😉


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2013: The Halfway Point

simplify

Ok, so it’s technically it’s a little past the halfway point of 2013, but I should get credit for the update anyway.

For those of you following along at home, you’ll remember that my word for the year was SIMPLIFY. Just in case you’ve recently started reading, you can read all about it right here. The gist of having a word for the year is that you use a theme to look forward at the year, thinking about what you want it to be. This is the reverse of looking back at the year to see what happened. It’s a more proactive approach. My decision to use the word SIMPLIFY was to have a cleansing effect on me in several different ways. I want to live more simply. I have more than I need. I have more things and thoughts to occupy my time than I feel like I should, from items in my home to emails in my inbox to preoccupations and more.

A few of the items I originally listed include getting rid of things in my home, removing myself from email lists, working on my budget and paying down debt.

Some of the things I’ve done so far this year are:

  • Reinforcing the concepts through books, articles and conversations.
  • Donating and selling things in my house.
  • Getting off some email lists.
  • Paying down some debt.
  • Taking a look or two or three at my budget.
  • Not committing to events or people I didn’t feel would be best for me at this time.
  • Using eMeals.com to prepare meals.
  • Following a chronological Bible reading list.
  • Focusing on only a couple of volunteer activities.

Honestly, these are still all ongoing. I can still make improvements during 2013, and intend to. It may seem like a pretty good list, but some items are further along than others. None are probably as far along as I’d like them to be, but they are in a much better place than they were seven months ago and that’s important to remember.

I definitely need to listen to my theme song and read by theme verse more throughout the year. They’ll help keep me motivated. But I am proud to say I have done a little hell-gate prevailing, though again, there’s still much more to be done. And that’s the really fun stuff. 😉

So, there you go. I’m checking in, and keeping accountable right here. And I’ll definitely let you know how this year shaped up in a few more months. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to report more progress. Scratch that: I WILL be able to report more progress!

If you’re doing something similar, please let me know how your 2013 is going. I’d love to hear!