Be the change Mahatma Gandhi


I spent much of last Saturday painting a Habitat for Humanity home in the northwest part of metro Phoenix. We’ve all donated our time, talent, and treasure at various times to one cause or another. Some give to their chosen religious institution, to get tax write-offs, and others for the sheer intrinsic joy of being a contributing member of society. Whatever route you choose, I encourage you to make a habit of giving to those around you.

As I was painting the garage with the new homeowner, I couldn’t help but sense the sincerity in her voice. It drove her to tears that complete strangers would give over seven hours of their time to help give her a roof over her head. To her, this was more than a home, it was something to build on. It was something to foster change from. It was something to provide hope for her children’s future. Her story isn’t that different from many others who have been unlucky in love, end up a single parent, and then struggle to make ends meet. The job market is tight, cost of living is increasing, and a dollar will only stretch so far. Although the story has become more common, her determination to use this gift to build a better life was unique and inspiring.

In addition to how she impressed me, I was also impressed by who was there. I was painting alongside a CFO from a large healthcare organization, the COO from the same organization, students from a local school, an entrepreneur, the director of marketing from a PR agency, friends of the new home owner, the owner of a construction company, and many more. There were no titles, judgments, or stereotyping, just a diverse group of hard working people that wanted to give back and make life better for one family.

Philanthropically speaking, how do you become the change you wish to see in the world?

1. Determine the Why – Why do you want to give back? Truly ask yourself what the motivation is. Is it because you want to put it on your resume? Is it because you truly want to affect change? Are you attempting to grow your own skills? Do you feel a connection to your community and want to see it prosper? Determining this first will help you select the organization to align yourself with.

2. Choose the Right Organization – Explore to learn more about opportunities in your area. Be sure to align yourself with something you value and are passionate about. If you attempt to help half-heartedly, you won’t last long, so get involved with an organization that has a mission and vision you buy into.

3. Budget Your Time – I recommend that you start small. Block time on your calendar over the next few months when you plan to volunteer. By starting small, you will be able to budget your time well, accomplish life’s daily tasks, and begin to build the positive intrinsic feeling I mention above. As time passes, and you buy into your philanthropic efforts more, slowly budget and spend more time.

4. Get Others Involved – I told a few friends that I helped Habitat for Humanity over the weekend, and a few said, “Why didn’t you call me?” I instantly felt bad. But, it goes to show that others want to be a part of groups that are doing good things for the community. As soon as you sign up and begin volunteering, spread the word through your social media channels and when you are with friends. You might be surprised how many people join you next time.

5. Be the Change – Now that you’ve identified your intrinsic motivation, chosen the right organization, made philanthropy a regular part of your schedule, and motivated others to get involved, how can you affect change on a bigger scale? You can use this basic process to get involved with other organizations, connect acquaintances with opportunities, and further connect other communities in need. Don’t fear being a leader, excite others to follow you. One small step at a time, others will follow, and your change will become a movement.

In a world full of political discord, media-driven propaganda, and focus on the shareholder, isn’t it time that we look beyond the dollar and look into our hearts to account for the triple bottom line?

I’m ready to be the change. Are you?