Do This One Thing Before Donating to Any Charitable Organization

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“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” – Kahil Gibran

Do you ever wonder if you’re giving back enough? Or if you’re giving to the right cause?

What if there was a way to know whether or not you’re giving enough to the right cause?

Well, there is…Read on, and I’ll tell you.

In my time working for the U.S. government, the worst time of year for me was the Combined Federal Campaign, or CFC.

The CFC is an annual campaign whereby a portion of your salary is deducted from your wages for the charity of your choice. And to be clear, the CFC is an excellent initiative that raises millions of dollars for countless charitable organizations that are doing compelling work.

But every year during the campaign, there was a competition to see which office could raise the most donations. And each office appointed a coordinator whose job was to hound, nag, and stalk every person in sight to submit their CFC paperwork.

When I’d see the coordinator walking my way with a clipboard in hand, I’d duck into an office or hide under a desk.

I felt waves of guilt for not being more excited to participate. But there were hundreds of organizations to choose from on the CFC’s give list, and I never knew which charity I wanted to support.

So, every year out of fear of the coordinator’s wrath, I’d blindly pick an organization and donate money to it.

I never heard anything back from any of the organizations that I donated to, nor did I feel any real connection to the work they did. My money just went into a black hole, and I deducted it from my taxes every April.

In short, I went through the motion of giving without really believing in what I was giving to.

Then I met a man named Ruel Walker at a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, who worked for the Pachamama Alliance. In fact, I interviewed Ruel about the work Pachamama is doing a few months ago. Click here to watch.

When I heard how Pachamama was helping the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture, something clicked inside my head.

I didn’t want to be involved, I had to be involved.

After I sent Pachamama my first donation, I received a packet of information in the mail about how I could make changes in my own life to help the environment along with invitations to future Pachamama events with ideas on how I could teach others.

Pachamama made me feel empowered and excited about giving, which brings me to the key point of this article.

Before donating money or volunteering time to any charitable organization, make sure you truly believe in the cause and the organization’s ability to address it.

If you’re going through the motions of giving because you (1) feel as you have to, (2) will feel guilty if you don’t, or (3) are worried what others will think, then you’re not giving from a place of love, and you’re better off saving your time and money for something else.

True giving from the heart for a cause and organization you truly believe in feels inspired, and well, it feels good.

Take action! Here are 6 steps to help you find the cause and organization you truly believe in:

→Decide what you’re doing to give. Assess your current circumstances and decide if you’re best suited to donate money, volunteer time, or a combination of both. Don’t feel bad if you’re short on cash, donating time is an invaluable resource to most organizations.

Set the intention of finding the cause that makes you giddy with joy to give to. Just by setting the intention to find the right cause, the right organization will likely find you.

Do some research. Make a list of the general causes you most want to support (environmental, women’s empowerment, refugee assistance, supporting local businesses, etc) and browse for organizations that fall into each category. The Charity Navigator is a good resource.

Narrow your scope. I recommend focusing on no more than 1-2 causes. For example, I currently give back to two specific causes: Pachamama and the Non-GMO Project. Moreover, donating to organizations with a specific focus often enables you to see tangible results and feel the impact of your donations.

Bigger is not necessarily better. There are some large charitable organizations out there doing some amazing things and they need people’s time and money. But donating to small -to medium-sized organizations with a specific scope can help you to feel more part of the action.

Does it feel like a match made in heaven? This is the most important question to ask. If you find an organization that you kinda like, then pass on them. Give your time and money to the causes and charitable groups that are doing work so meaningful to you that you feel as though you absolutely MUST be involved.

The bottom line is to give to the organizations that bring you great joy to support. And when giving brings you joy, then you know you’re making an impact.

Take action! Do an inventory of what charitable organizations you’re giving your time and money to and ask how it make you feel. If the answer is anything less than, “Fantastic!” go through the steps above and consider other organizations that may be a better fit for you.

If you aren’t currently giving any time or money to a charitable organization or a cause, don’t feel guilty, just consider how it would feel to start giving.

Your thoughts? What organizations do you currently give time or money to? How do you decide if you want to get involved? Have you ever donated something because you felt as you had to?