|Kelly Bruce Beard|
The beautiful thing about philanthropy is that it comes in all shapes and sizes. You don't have to be a multimillion dollar donor to make a big impact. Your community, or organization of choice, will be forever grateful if you volunteer your time or talent - which are "treasures" in and of themselves.
I had to chuckle to myself during a recent volunteer project when an older woman standing next to me said to the group, "How did we get someone under 20 to volunteer?" Being the youngest in the room, I knew she was referring to me - and was quite flattered she thought I was under 20! (That new face cream must be working!) I quickly introduced myself, surprised our paths hadn't crossed since I had been volunteering quite actively for the organization for close to two years.
Nevertheless, it was surprising to me that a volunteer "stereotype" still existed in my small town. I had been raving to my family and friends about how charity- and volunteer-driven the young people in my community are. But for many, the word "volunteer" still brings to mind retirees and rich housewives.
I can confidently say that stereotype is changing. I am so proud to be surrounded by volunteers of all ages while helping out a number of organizations. One of the main reasons is the community service hours assigned to local high school teens - required for graduation at many schools. It's also a prerequisite on most college applications these days. And while it may be required at first, volunteerism is fostering a group of caring, community-oriented, dedicated young adults. And I believe most of these teens will continue to serve their communities wherever the future takes them. (And I am thrilled to think of them as tomorrow's leaders and our country's future).
I might not have grown up with a community service quota, but I still find myself deeply involved in my community. For me, volunteering stems from a desire to help others and create a brighter future for the next generation. I'm newly married, the owner of a "fixer upper" (our first home) and a small business owner, so I don't have a lot of money to give. Volunteering is the natural choice for me, and I am constantly rewarded with smiling faces and the satisfaction of seeing the events that I helped coordinate become a success.
In the end, volunteers do raise money and offset costs, a true treasure for budget-strapped communities and not-for-profit organizations everywhere.
Learn more about how you can make the most of your donation of time, talent and treasure in "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation," or visit www.margaret-may.com.
Kelly Beard is the owner of New Growth Media, LLC. Visit her website at NGMedia.biz to learn more.