In the fast-paced lifestyle of Silicon Valley, it’s easy to get caught up in problems that seem terribly important at the time. “I can’t get into my e-mail.” “The server is down.” “I left my cell phone at home.” Daily challenges aside, we are fortunate to live in a society marked by peace, stability, prosperity, and an abundance of opportunities.
Giving back to those less fortunate than ourselves enables us to leverage our gifts and serve the world in a beneficial way. Voluntary contributions of time and money are a powerful way to fully appreciate all that we might normally take for granted. And in the 21st century, technological developments have made volunteerism, charity and community service easier than ever before.
Charitable Donations and Micro-lending
Thanks to the Internet, a person in Palo Alto can contribute money to a Native American school in North Dakota or an organization fighting poverty in Ethiopia, all without writing a check, using postage or leaving his or her home. Whether your interest is environmental conservation, literacy, animal welfare or fighting poverty and disease in the third world, numerous organizations will welcome your contributions to their efforts. Charity Navigator evaluates not-for-profit organizations on financial strength, governance, and operational transparency. It is a useful tool for determining the most effective use of your donation.
Those wishing to impact others more directly than via a charity may consider micro-lending, in which a small amount of money (for example, $25) is provided to an aspiring entrepreneur in a developing country. Websites such as Kiva help identify eligible loan recipients and administer the process. Twenty-five dollars may seem like a trivial amount to you and me, but it can represent the opportunity of a lifetime to someone in another part of the world!
Community Service, Fundraising and Time Banking
If you prefer to contribute your time and energy instead of (or in addition to) your money, volunteer opportunities abound. High-profile, event-based activities such as home building through Habitat for Humanity offer the ability to make an impact in a short period of time. Alternatively, you can help raise money for worthy causes by participating in walks, races, or the popular Ice Bucket Challenge.
Time banking is a community-based way of contributing your talents for the betterment of those around you. It combines elements of a barter economy, in which people exchange goods and services instead of money, with a “pay-it-forward” philosophy. Each participant first contributes his or her time to another person. In return, he or she is eligible to receive time or services from someone else. For example, Charlotte donates her time to help a senior with grocery shopping. In return, Charlotte receives music lessons from John, and so on. The Bay Area Community Exchange and linkAges TimeBank are two local organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area which serve this purpose nicely.
Helping Others Helps Us Too
As mentioned above, selfless service and contribution give us a healthy perspective on our own lives, thereby contributing to our work-life balance. And few things are more satisfying than knowing that our efforts are making a meaningful difference to our world.
Menlo Partners encourages and supports volunteerism from our staff, temporary employees, clients, and vendors. If there is a program or organization you wish to support, please reply to this post with your suggestion! We will make a future donation to an organization recommended by our readers.
Menlo Partners Staffing provides temporary staffing and direct hire, contingent recruitment services for roles within accounting, administration, finance, human resources, marketing and operations. Contact us today by phone at 650-752-6193 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.