Question Details: Do you feel it’s more beneficial to donate time, effort, and caring… or money? Do you ever wonder how much of monetary donations go to administration? How do you feel about the “think globally, act locally” concept?
I originally answered this question at Mahalo.com in summer of 2009. Edited for grammar, spelling, formatting, and overall readability.
Answer: I think it’s better to donate time and effort than money, however, not everyone has that time to use. I guess money really is a donation of time too though since you worked for that money. I personally donate to Worldvision. I like it because I can pick out EXACTLY where my money goes to; what it’s buying, and which country. They also offer a breakdown of how much goes to administration, transportation of products, etc, and honestly, it wasn’t much last time I looked.
When I was younger I attended church and youth group regularly. Most of what kept me there was the volunteer work. We would do a lot of nice things for the community, everything from helping seniors with yard work and painting, to volunteering at summer camps, picking up garbage, fixing up public facilities (like parks and arenas), visiting nursing homes, and showing new people around the town (it was a small town). I LOVED doing this… I really felt like I was making myself useful. However, I was not a religious person, and everything we did was “In the name of God” and there was always some sort of “God did this for you” to the people we helped. I don’t necessarily want personal recognition, but that just wasn’t my belief. We didn’t pick up garbage because someone asked God for it, we did it because we wanted to help clean up our community!
I ended up leaving the church when I was 14 or so. I had a job, but I still had some spare time here and there… It’s much more difficult finding volunteer opportunities when it’s not affiliated with the church! I only wanted to do things I felt were making a difference. So for a few years I planned and worked at the Children’s Festival in my hometown. I helped seniors (my grandmother and a couple of her friends) do their shopping. I played piano at my grandmother’s retirement home (I wasn’t very good but everyone always loved it). I also volunteered at the local public school’s library putting away books, reading to kids, checking books in and out. However, I quit that quickly because I realized it wasn’t really HELPING people, it was just giving the paid employees an opportunity to take an extended lunch break. I worked a few concerts (great big sea) but again, thats really not directly helping people, it’s just giving the paid employees a break. I want to do things that people actually need, and will be thankful for!
I would love to get in to volunteering more, but I’m very picky about where I spend my time, and I’m having trouble really figuring out how to do it. I’ve checked kijiji and most of the ads are like, come sell tickets for Harry Potterfest. How is that helping anyone to have a better life? So for now I just donate my money, and I’m thinking about helping out at the OSPCA/Humaine society or visiting at the nearby retirement home or maybe putting up an ad to do some yardwork for seniors. Those things actually benefit someone/something, rather than, y’know, handing out flyers for the new taco stand. An older person might not be able physically to do those things, and not be able to afford to pay someone to do it, and they will really appreciate you helping them out for a couple hours!
But it’s hard to get in to volunteering without religious affiliation!
Think Globally, Act Locally. I have never heard that before. (Note: Of course I have now but this is a few years old). I agree that you should focus on your own community first, but you can’t ONLY focus on your own community. What about other places where there is no one to do that? I’m sure there is not someone with disposable income in the villages in Africa debating whether or not to provide vaccinations!
Split it up, locally and globally, but look for high-impact volunteering, things that actually have a purpose and someone to benefit from them, not just letting employees slack or letting a company pay one less person!