Giving back to the community
What’s the first thing you want to do when you receive incredible news? You reach out to someone who’s important to you to share. What do you do when something terrible happens? Hopefully, you reach out to a loved one for support. We rely on the people around us for emotional support during good and bad times. As much as this need for connection is ingrained in us, it also goes the other way.
This is the essence of giving back to the community – supporting others in the ups and downs of life just as they support you.
Why is it important to give back to the community? Because the secret to living is giving. True fulfillment doesn’t lie in material possessions, following a certain blueprint for your life or even in finding a passionate relationship. Those things are all parts of achieving a good life. But real meaning in life never comes from what you get, it comes from what you give.
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Why is it important to give back to the community?
The importance of giving back to society can’t be understated. When you give back, you’re able to better the lives of the people around you – your loved ones, the people in your community or the lives of people somewhere else in the world. And finding meaning by giving back to the community doesn’t just benefit others – it benefits you.
Improves mental health
Research has shown that volunteerism increases happiness and decreases depression and other psychological distress. Why? The science of happiness. When we volunteer, the brain rewards us with “happy chemicals” that make us feel good in both the short- and long-term.
Improves physical health
Want to live longer? Volunteering is also good for your physical health. Studies have linked it with lower risk for hypertension and decreased mortality risk, among other health benefits. Get even more health benefits by combining volunteering with physical activity, like stocking a food pantry or building homes.
Expands your network
Surrounding yourself with good people is key to achieving your dreams – and you’re guaranteed to meet like-minded people while volunteering. Treat volunteering like a networking opportunity, and you never know who you’ll meet.
Develops new skills
If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Whether you’re learning how to build a home, gaining soft skills like public speaking or just getting out of your comfort zone by meeting new people, volunteering is an opportunity for growth.
Transforms your perspective
There’s no better way to adopt an attitude of gratitude than by asking yourself how to give back to the community. Helping others can make you realize how much you have to be grateful for.
Fulfills your deepest human needs
As human beings, we innately realize the importance of giving back to society, because it fulfills our deepest human needs. Growth is one of those needs. Volunteering also fulfills our needs for contribution and significance, making us feel needed, unique and helpful.
How to give back to the community
The beauty of giving back to the community is that giving back is its own gift. Putting the following strategies into action will connect you more deeply with yourself and with those around you.
1. Find your purpose
What is it in life that drives you? Finding answers to this question forms the backbone of giving back to society. Are you inspired by making lots of money at your job? Do you enjoy being recognized for your accomplishments? That’s a good start, but think deeper. Why do you enjoy making money? Is it so you can provide for your family and feel secure? Perhaps you relish being recognized for your achievements because it makes you feel like you’re making the most of your time or you enjoy giving back to your industry in some way. There’s always a greater purpose that drives your actions.
Now, what if you could work toward your purpose by giving back to the community? This will help you reach a greater sense of fulfillment. You can feel like you’re making a major difference for a good cause and ultimately get closer to achieving your personal goals.
2. Start small and start today
Why aren’t you already giving back? Is it because you feel that you don’t have the time or money to do so? It’s not about a lack of resources, it’s about a lack of resourcefulness.
Many people wait to give back, but the truth is, no matter what resources you have, you can start today. And the truth is, even if you have very little, if you’re not giving back to the community now, you won’t if you become wildly successful. Contribution is a mindset that enables us to devote part of our lives to helping others – it’s not about how much you have. Whether you make $30,000 a year and donate your time to volunteering at a local community center or you make $1 million annually and are able to donate a portion of each paycheck, there are ways you can start helping others today.
3. Create a ripple effect
Think of a few people you admire. Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff and Serena Williams are a few names that come to mind. What do these people regularly do? They work diligently to spread their messaging and create value in the lives of others. They prioritize giving back to society. Now, think of the positive impact these people have had on the globe. Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has given more than $45 billion to charity.
Do you find these actions inspirational? Most people don’t have the means that Bill Gates does, but that doesn’t mean your contributions can’t inspire others too. Once you start giving back to the community, you’ll see how your positive actions encourage others to get involved, too. Maybe your coworkers want to come along on your next beach clean up or your child is eager to volunteer at a local homeless shelter with you.
The same is true of financial giving. If you find a nonprofit that piques your interest, maybe your friends and coworkers will be equally inspired to give as well. Why is giving back to the community important? It allows you to create a ripple of positive impact, which inspires others to do the same.
4. Find what fits
Giving back is about finding a fit between your passions and how they can meet a need. There are as many ways to contribute as there are problems to solve, so take the time to find what works. Find an area of philanthropy that speaks to you.
If you love children, seek out ways to give back to your community’s schools. If you love gardening, help beautify local parks and waterways. If you’re on a limited budget, consider donating your time or making use of your network to facilitate others’ contributions. Acts of kindness as small and inexpensive as recycling or visiting an elderly neighbor go a long way toward giving back to the community.
If you’re low on time, consider financial or in-kind donations. As you find opportunities for giving back to society that fit with your ideals and lifestyle, you’re able to contribute without stretching yourself too thin.
5. Embrace your life as a resource
If learning how to give back to the community sounds like a feat reserved for heroes, that’s your limiting beliefs doing the talking. The reality is that everyone’s life experience is unique, and your set of experiences equips you with skills and a perspective no one else can duplicate. You don’t have to be perfect to give back. All you need is the self-acceptance necessary to embrace everything you have to offer.
So why is it important to give back to the community? Not only will your actions benefit those on the receiving end of your good deeds, but you’ll find a personal sense of joy and fulfillment through your contributions – and even gain physical and mental health benefits.
Once you develop the habit of giving back regularly, even if you’re making a small contribution, it will begin to feel more natural and easy to do so. Always remember that the secret to living is giving. Start contributing to the world around you today, and prepare to reap the benefits of giving back.
Getting to know yourself is fundamental to giving back. When you understand the driving force behind what inspires you, you’re able to give back in a sustainable, meaningful way.
Ready to contribute?
Join Feeding America’s 1 Billion Meals Challenge to start making a difference right now.