Generosity seems to be abundant around holidays or after natural disasters occur. But most folks in need and the charities that serve them have year-round expenses.  Remembering to donate, help, and volunteer on any day is a bonus—for the givers, too.

Kindness Has Many Rewards

While we should all aspire to being selfless, the truth is that giving and helping makes us feel good. Numerous studies have proven the positive mental effects of donating time, money, or goods to help the needy. People who are charitable suffer less depression and anxiety, and even live healthier and longer lives.
Aside from obvious benefits, such as tax deductions and feelings of joy, in giving we learn to accept and express gratitude.  Cicero one said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
Gratitude is key to creating social bonds along with increasing happiness and health.

Sobering Statistics

Most of us are fortunate to live in a first-world environment with clean water, adequate food, and many modern conveniences. Around the world, and in poorer parts of North America, that’s not always the case.  Here are a few facts and figures that may scare you, but will present awareness:

  • Almost 50% of the global population live on less than $2.50 USD a day—at least 80% live on less than $10/day.
  • In the U.S. in 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty.
  • According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • Issues with water and sanitation affect half the people on the planet.
  • In the U.S., 42.2 million live in food insecure situations, including 13.1 million kids and 5.4 million seniors over 60.

The good news is that these numbers are slowly improving, but not quickly enough for those who still suffer in near silence every day. The better news is we can help.

How to Get Started

Starting down the path of charitable giving is easy, but staying the course can be a challenge. Consider the following as you decide where, when, and how often you want to give:

  • Pick a cause you are passionate about (literacy, hunger, disease, etc.)
  • Set aside a specific time each day, week, or month to devote to your cause(s)
  • Plan on budgeting your time and/or money each month
  • Get friends, family, and kids involved to keep you motivated
  • Use the Internet to research charities and reach out to other people
  • Consider joining or starting a group to keep you participating regularly

Charitable Choices

Now that you have a cause in mind and a plan in hand, it’s time to find the right fit for you. You can “think globally and act locally” by looking into local charities.  Churches, temples, shelters, and clubs all offer great opportunities to devote time and money to worthy causes. Even donating clothes, housewares, and furniture to thrift shops is a great start.
You can also use these resources to research and choose charities:

Gandhi is quoted, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Giving and gratitude is a two-way street, and you’ll likely live a better and longer life with practice. For more articles on ways to improve the quality of your life and the lives of others, check out