How Millennials Can Use What They Have To Make A Difference

I wake up at 5 AM and I still never get everything done that I need to in a day. My workday always ends too early, and then I am off running to buy groceries, or meet friends for drinks, and somewhere in their trying to get exercise and not eat what is terrible for me. Before I know it, its 11 PM and time to get in bed so I can rest and do it all over again. It is exhausting.

If it weren’t enough to have a hectic schedule just trying to get ahead, it’s even harder to do so on a tight budget. It’s no wonder that you don’t give to charity. I don’t blame you. Nothing is cheap and just as our time doesn’t stretch out enough, neither does our money.

It’s important to be career focused in your life, as well as take the time to focus on self-care. If you aren’t doing well and if you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t do a damn thing that’s helpful for anyone else and there is no good in that.

So where is the time and money you need to give back when you are already busy and maybe a little broke? I promise it’s there, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

It’s Not Easy Helping Others

I understand why people don’t donate money, or volunteer, or fundraise for causes. I have been working in the non-profit sector for over 10 years. For 3 years I have been in charge of the fundraising department for Children Incorporated, an international child assistance organization and it’s not easy being on the inside of it, let alone be on the outside looking in. 

It’s difficult to determine what issues are the most important to support, figure out which charities are the best, or decide which efforts will have the greatest impact. There are a lot of decisions to make and it can be daunting and overwhelming.

Giving back is different for everyone and what most people don’t realize is that they don’t have to do something huge or know everything about a cause to be effective. We all need decide for ourselves how we can have a positive impact on the world, but it should always be completely up to us as individuals.

If you alone can only give five minutes and five dollars, then that’s great and it is enough really. Whether a donor makes a donation to Children Incorporated for five dollars or 5,000 dollars, I send them a thank you card with the same feeling, the same meaning, because they took the effort to do something no matter the amount, and that’s always better than doing nothing.

Make The Time, Set Aside The Money

It takes very little to make a difference in someone else’s life. I sponsor a child with Children Incorporated for $28 a month. To put it in perspective, that’s skipping one meal a month in a restaurant. That money comes right out of my bank account, so it takes me no time. You know what? It sends a kid to school that would never be educated otherwise.

Can’t swing donating every month? How about a one-time donation to buy a mosquito net to keep a child protected from illnesses? It will cost you $10 and two minutes of your time to go online and donate.  Want to feed a family who is having a hard time paying the bills? $25 will buy meals that ensure they don’t go hungry.

Only have half of what it takes to make a donation? Many companies offer options for matching gifts initiatives, where employee gifts are matched dollar for dollar. All you have to do is ask the HR Department at your work if they currently participate in matching gift donations.

It’s Worth It Every Penny

Giving back does more than just help others. It helps you too. It teaches you gratitude and humility and gives you perspective on the world. It also feels good to do something for others and that puts the focus back on your personal well-being, which is important.

Lastly, giving back makes you look good. Want to stand out in a job interview? Talk about the organization you donate to and how your money helps, and you are different that others interviewees. Donating to charity is also a great conversation starter with strangers because it shows other that you are compassionate and that you care about the world, and that is worth all the money and time you don’t think you have.


Shelley Callahan of Children Incorporated with children in India

Shelley Callahan of Children Incorporated with children in India

Author Bio: Shelley Callahan is the Director of Development for Children Incorporated. Since 1964, Children Incorporated has extended its reach to over 250,000 children, spread across 23 countries and through over 300 programs and outreach projects. Children Incorporated provides impoverished children with basic needs such as food, clothing, and educational support through sponsorship in an effort to break the cycle of poverty and offer children a chance at a brighter future.

Callahan has traveled extensively across the U.S. and around the world reporting on the burden of poverty and working to support communities in need. From digging wells in Colombia, managing medical teams in Haiti, and reporting on the slums in Kenya and Ethiopia, Callahan has steadfastly committed herself to supporting the underprivileged.  She started her career in non-profit in 2006, when she cofounded Books on Wheels, which provided free books to children living in low-income neighborhoods. After graduating with a Masters of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008, Callahan followed her interests to a global scale when she began working with Children Incorporated. She is the author of the book The House of Life (Chop Suey Books, 2016), and has written for many online and print publications about her work within the non-profit sector.

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