PAUL CLARK: People mistakenly assume that giving money is the only tangible way of helping what they or others identify as a worthy cause. Not so. There are other things that have much more worth than shelling out a couple of dollars and walking away.
Some people selfishly think that simply giving money makes them look good and clears them of having to get any further involved in what others identify as a worthy cause. They tell everyone else how they have given money and tell themselves they have done enough. They feel they did their bit and surreptitiously wish the cause would go away so as not to be reminded it's out still there, thereby inevitably incurring more involvement. They think to themselves, "Yikes, who wants to be stuck in that bummer" followed by "Here’s some money, now go away!"
Sometimes we hear the money is used for things other than the initial public appeal - nefarious or otherwise. Sometimes the money gets channeled out to geographical locations other than your own so your donation doesn’t help those close to your home or community. That’s a big one for me.
Sometimes you just simply don’t have the extra money to give. Don’t feel badly because I know each one of you has something unique to give. Something only you can share which makes it even more exceptional than money.
Bare with me here and I’ll tie two things together. Ok, so we’ve established there is something other than money you can share but how do you choose where to share it? Some make an effort to list all the worthy causes out there and randomly pick one. Others have a personal circumstance that focuses them on a specific issue or cause. Both fine, but if you are not in either category you can have a worthy cause actually find you when you least expect it, making it a much more personal and fulfilling connection.
Let me hook the unique whatyou canshare and the whereyou canshare together. I’ll give you a couple of personal experiences.
During our last election my wife Mary and I went to our local polling station at the Community Centre to do our civic duty and vote. Politics and voting were on our minds that day, a worthy cause indeed but not the kind I’m talking about here. When we were about to leave the building Mary noticed a small room with a little hand-written sign on the door window reading, ‘Community Works in Hamilton Township’. Neither of us had ever noticed it before. We could see rows of clothes racks and we decided to go in to see what there was inside and what it was all for.
At the far end of this slightly claustrophobic but highly organized room sat a smiling, grand-motherly lady behind a second-hand office desk. She greeted us with a great big welcoming hello and asked us how she could help us. We didn’t quite know actually. We weren’t really looking for help. We introduced ourselves and asked her what all this was around her, gesturing to the rows of clothes, stacks of puzzles and games and kids toys. She said her name was Donna and she made us feel instantly … well, at home.
Donna told us she and her sister Bonnie started and ran ‘Community Works’ the local food bank. We told her we had never heard of Community Works or realized our little hamlet even had a food bank for that matter. She jumped up and instantly took us on a tour of the room. In fact there was an even smaller side-room hidden off to the side filled with donated shelves and a small assortment of canned and dry goods. Mary noticed they even had small bags of dog and cat food. Donna explained that animals are an essential part of family life and the two should never be separated from families in challenge. How cool an attitude is that!
Donna explained that a year earlier her and her sister saw a big need in the community that wasn’t being addressed so they started to gather food and clothes from wherever they could find them for those too humiliated or embarrassed to ask for them. She told us that the bigger-named organizations were too impersonal, had too much red tape and therefore unapproachable for people in need. Also, that these organizations only provide clothes, or only food but not the both together and she didn’t feel that was right. She told us people are people and deserve to be treated as such and welcomed without judgment – “there but for the grace of God…” she added. She told us everybody needs respect and to know they have a shoulder to cry or lean on and that the coffee and home-made treats were always on hand for them here. She said food and clothing go hand-in-hand and she will make sure they are both available to anyone who needs them as long as she has a say in the matter. *pointing a finger in the air*
She told us when the word got out about how they treated people they attracted both the families in need and the volunteers to help them out. She went on to explain how it was her and her sister who made all the calls to individuals and businesses, drove in their rickety, rusty van to personally collect all donated materials and unloaded, cleaned, categorized and stacked or hung everything themselves. She joked that she ropes her elderly husband into moving the heavy things for them. My eyes quietly met Mary’s several times as Donna joyfully explained “what all this was.” *waving both arms in the air*
We were truly amazed at the whole hidden world we just wandered into and told Donna so. We asked her what her website address was so we could check it out when we got home. Well, we barely got the question out as she once again waved her hands in the air telling us that was one dream of hers that has yet to come.
Mary and I instantly glared into each other’s eyes knowing exactly what was coming next. You see, Mary and I were, for Donna, uniquely positioned … to design and donate a website. We also knew we could get free hosting for it.
The worthy cause just found us. Their new site is www.cwiht.ca (Community Works in Hamilton Township). All we did was use what we now how to do as creators of websites and videos to help promote these brilliant women and they food bank they so lovingly maintain.
Another example occurred couple of months ago when Mary called me from the road after a networking meeting. She told me one of the women there mentioned she was a volunteer at the local humane society and they just rescued over 125 puppy mill small-breed dogs. Some were puppies and most were breeders. Mary said the woman wondered aloud how they would ever get all those dogs adopted and how they could ever get the word out.
Another worthy cause just found us and we immediately knew we were in a position to help.
We quickly discussed the possibility of putting a YouTube video together for them and Mary called the woman immediately. To make a long story short, we showed up a few days later, shot the video, posted it and the response was great. We even found a little 6 year old to adopt. Well, she actually found us and we joke about who adopted who. One of the little dogs highlighted in the video had a broken leg that healed out of shape. The day we picked up our little girl we bumped into a mother with two young daughters. They were picking up ‘little broken leg’ and told us it was a direct result of seeing her in the video we posted. Mom told us as soon as the dog appeared in the video the girls looked at each other and said “Let’s go get that one!” Win, win, win, win, win...
In talking to the president of the same local Humane Society recently we found out they run mostly with volunteers and donations and needed something to show the public. You guessed it, we did another video and here it is:
Hey if we can do something, you can do something. You know what you’re good at and what you like to do – just keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to use what you know to help others. It can turn into quite an interesting journey. It’s a great feeling and goes way beyond just giving a couple of bucks to a faceless cause.
I’m not telling you any of this for the praise. We don’t need it and that’s not why we do it. We have things, particular to us that we are good at and it’s fun, yes fun, to see what pops up when you least expect it where we can share what we know or do. We have also met some pretty wonderful people along the way. People we would have never known existed if we hadn’t have taken the opportunity to make an offer.
Do you cook, do carpentry or knit? Anything. Do you enjoy talking to people or like connecting the dots? Someone or something out there can use your unique abilities more than a couple of bucks and will reveal themselves to you. I’m not going to suggest any places for you to go or mention any worthy causes because they will show up in your life and I trust you will instantly understand what I have been talking about all along here.
I know each one of you has something unique to give. Something only you can share which makes it even more exceptional than money.
Now that you are ready – let’s see what appears.
A quick note on the subject of superficiality: There are too many people who impulsively click on the Facebook ‘Like’ button in order to quickly move on to other more personal interests figuring they have done their part for a cause. They justify adding their ‘Like’ to the myriad 'Likes' in order to get the numbers way up and that it’s the number of 'Likes' that makes a difference some how. It becomes a game - a game of ‘Likes’ and being a part of getting those numbers up. They complacently believe their public showing, their acknowledgment, their ‘Like’ will encourage someone else will do something about a worthy cause. And if so many other people think it’s a worthy cause then they will look good by jumping on the bandwagon. Not so because it’s all just show and no go. They didn’t go out in the streets or go down volunteering or organizing or donating anything more than their ‘Like’.
Biography Paul L. Clark is an internationally acclaimed visual communicator with a breadth of diverse experience. His timeless designs and creative ingenuity are seen everywhere ~ on hundreds of websites, television shows, in movies, in the corporate arena, nationally and internationally, and on stores shelves and homes worldwide.
A long-standing member of the Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) of Ontario, Paul is a founding partner in inspirtainment inc. and WAVE Web & Print Design where he co-creates as Creative Director of website content and design, television programming and communication strategies for the international market.
Champion over a potentially fatal illness at the age of eleven, Paul has been a student of all things Spiritual ever since. Studies under a Native American Shaman, Energy Healers in Sedona, and various Spiritual Teachers, have enhanced his early awakening. Paul recently sidestepped his career as an art director for films and television to focus on co-creating Conscious projects like Master Heart Magazine.