Can you guess who donated the most to charity in 2012? According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, it was businessman Warren Buffet, who made $3.1 billion in charitable donations last year. To get an idea of just how much more he gave than others on the list, consider this: second place went to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan for their $498.8 million in charitable donations.
Of course, you don’t need to donate millions to make a difference. In fact, you don’t even need to donate money. Next to currency, time is often the most valuable commodity, and you can leave a big impact giving just some of yours.
That’s why, in honor of National Volunteer Week – starting April 21 – we reached out to some of our personal finance bloggers and asked them how they give back, why giving back is an important part of true wealth and what advice they have for those looking to volunteer.
What’s the responsibility of the wealthy when it comes to helping those in need?
David Ning, of Money Ning
“Many people will naturally think of the finance side of things whenever the subject of wealth comes up. But being wealthy is so much more than just having a huge amount of money at your disposal. Certainly, you need enough financial assets to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. But having an abundance of time, healthy relationships and true happiness are also big parts of being wealthy. By volunteering and helping those in need, you are not only making yourself more wealthy, you are creating more opportunities for others to be wealthy too.”
Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers
“True wealth involves much more than earning a high salary. If you don’t have any sense of personal satisfaction, it doesn’t matter how much money you make. The best way to achieve true wealth is to give back and help those in need. Choose your charitable organizations wisely, especially if you plan on giving a substantial amount. In any event, giving back to those in need is the best way to achieve true wealth – a sufficient bank account along with a wealth of personal satisfaction.”
Ashley Jacobs of Wise Bread
“Wealth is not just a monetary concept but an emotional one as well. The fulfillment you get by being able to help those who need it can far outweigh any joy you feel from the material items you are able to bring into your life. Anyone who has ever volunteered or helped someone in need knows that the experience gives back more to you than the effort you put into it. Monetary wealth isn’t everything. Being able to make a positive impact on the lives of others can make you richer than any paycheck ever could.”
How do you give back?
“Aside from monetary donations and offering my time in the local community, trying to provide useful and actionable content, as well as interacting with the readers, have become natural ways for me to give back. Through my site, readers contact me about different aspects of their finances all the time. I always tell them that I won’t have all the answers, but I try to point them in the right direction as best I can.”
“My company has yet to undertake any significant efforts to give back in terms of financial assistance, though we have investigated several charities to determine where our funds will do the most good. However, we do feel that our business has a charitable aspect to it, as the financial information and advice we provide is 100 percent free for our viewers and extremely valuable during these difficult economic times.”
“I am a huge animal lover and do house/pet sitting as a side gig. I wanted to figure out a way to utilize my side gig to give back and decided to start Sitting for a Cause. I have started giving back 50 percent of all my house/pet sitting profits to animal related causes. For people who have side jobs and can afford to give back a little (or even a lot) of their extra income, this is a fantastic way to be charitable.”
What should people do if they want to volunteer in their area?
“People sometimes hesitate to volunteer because they feel like they have to support an honorable cause. The reality is that the heart of volunteering really means lending a helping hand. Start offering your time at places you are already familiar with. Whether it’s at a daycare where your kids go or at your local community center, there are plenty of places that will always welcome your time.”
“People who are interested in volunteering should put a bit of thought into the process before moving forward. The first thing they need to determine is how much time they can devote to any particular project. Find out the requirements and responsibilities of any volunteer position before committing, and make sure you can set aside enough time. Next, choose something that you are passionate about. To find volunteer opportunities in your area, use the website VolunteerMatch.”
“It is important to first identify a cause you can be passionate about. You are more likely to stick with volunteer projects and opportunities that speak to you on an emotional level. Whether it’s animals, homeless people, children or the environment, figure out where you’d most like to volunteer your time, then look for organizations in your area that cater to that cause.”
What kind of obligation do the wealthy have to give back? What kind of volunteer work have you done?