Have you ever seen an episode of the final round on “The Apprentice?” I admit to watching a few of the final episodes in its first few seasons. When I overlooked the bad acting, strange hair and hysterics, it seemed to boil down to creating an event to win the title. I sat, stunned, as a bunch of people struggled, bungled and botched events any mid-level planner could execute while half asleep. Yet somehow, this was the ultimate display of greatness. For the first and only time in my life, I wanted to be a part of reality television.
The show got me thinking. Not about a potential stint on reality TV, but that what we do for a living is seen as a formidable skill, if not by our executive team, then by people who are unable to produce an event on their own. Apparently, what we do naturally presents a challenge for many otherwise talented individuals.
Your skills needed
Case in point: I’m approached by at least two dozen charities a year looking for help planning their luncheons, galas, black-tie dinners, etc. So many large-hearted philanthropists have the desire and energy but not the ability to plan their fundraisers. I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of causes that warrant time, funds and attention. No matter how much I give, I can’t make a dent in the tidal wave of need.
This is where you come in. The holidays are full of messages about giving, starting the new year, resolved to do good things, promises to become a better person. This year, why not commit to working with one charity and using your skills to change the world?
Finding a cause is difficult only in that there are so many from which to choose. Kids, cancer, veterans, animals, homeless, illiteracy, clean water, the arts, international issues. The list is endless. The city in which you live likely has families in need, kids with a terminal illness, pets needing adoption, a food pantry, students raising funds for school trips and more. Find one that resonates with you and offer your help.
Your time counts
You don’t need to write a check. In fact, that’s the opposite of what this is about. The investment of time and personal energy is a powerful force, especially if you are a planner. Your organizational skills, creativity, resourcefulness and natural problem-solving skills are invaluable.
Churches, synagogues, YMCAs, the Chamber of Commerce, library or fire and police departments are all good places to start. Many municipalities have message boards on Facebook that can put you in touch with local causes.
Does this sound too time-consuming? You can still do your part. Save the bath amenities you get when you travel. Put one of each toiletry in a baggie (tied with a pretty bow if you feel artsy) and, when you have a sizable amount, donate them to a women’s shelter.
Send an email to friends organizing a closet-cleaning charity drive. Collect and then donate the items for distribution, or do the drop-offs yourself. There is nothing more infectious than the feeling that comes with generosity of spirit.
Whatever you choose to do, the effort will be appreciated. If you haven’t ever donated your time to a charitable cause, you are in for an incredible treat. If you want to know what greatness feels like, you need a cause, not a gig on reality TV.
Need a cause to support or a place to share your stories? Leave a comment or question in the box below and/or email @SMEChristy or firstname.lastname@example.org.