1.) Choose Carefully.
There a few things to consider when you want to honor the Jedi ideal of Service to Others. Most do this by participating in a charity. Getting involved with an organization that has the structure set-up to create a desired impact. While you may want to mail a box of goods to a region hit by disaster, there is no one there to receive it, distribute the goods, and make sure it goes to those that need it most. So instead you would donate to a charity group you know has boots on the ground and is providing that service. Of course with so many charities out there, you need to be choosy.
So first off pick a Cause that is important to you. You can start broad and narrow it down. Animals or Humans? Young, Old, Endangered? Education, Prevention, Relief/Aftermath? Lets say you pick Animal Protection. You feel a desire to specifically help Gorillas such as the Cross River Gorillas. So you go to www.gorillas.org. Maybe you can’t get that specific so you go with www.worldwildlife.org. Or maybe you want to be part of a smaller group like www.wildlifewaystation.org. The main thing is to pick something that speaks to you as that will focus your efforts.
2.) Time can be more valuable than Money.
It is not about being rich and using charities as tax deductions. I mean if you are, awesome or whatever, but not all of us have money we can send to a charity. At best we may have a 50 dollar yearly charity budget. But a lot of organizations find your time much more useful and thus more valuable. Relief efforts often require a lot of people sorting, packaging, and moving goods and care packages. Homeless and Animal Shelters often need help with cooking, feeding, and cleaning. Reading programs at local libraries often need volunteers more than money.
So don’t feel money is the only way to give back and be of service. You can make a big impact by giving your time and energy to a charity. This may be more difficult with certain charities as they operate in countries where specific problems or animals are located, but there is usually something you can do. Just do your research and really look into how best you can help a cause that resonates with you.
3.) Seems Legit.
Homework. Research. Verify any Charity before you give. Also consider the size of the charity. Their records on where their money is going and if they have positive financial stability. You don’t want to give to a charity that is about to go under due to years of poor financial use. Giving your time and money to a big charity is often most appealing because they tend to have visible impacts as group. Of course smaller charities can really use help and your efforts can often be felt and seen right away.
The main thing is to make sure the charity is legit and using the money properly. Which there are plenty of sites which allow you to see the rating of charities and exactly where the money is going. Groups like Charity Water boost 100% of all donations going directly to their cause. While other groups some of the donation will go to administration (employee) costs, which is not a bad thing. But it is important to make sure your money is being used wisely. Many charities have gotten in trouble for putting most of their money into management pockets. So do your homework.
4.) You are Not Alone.
Rope in your friends, family, and all humans within arms reach. Okay, maybe not that, but you can arm yourself with knowledge and information and education those around you. Some people may be interested in the same causes you are and looking to help, but don’t know where to start. Others may be less proactive, but are looking to donate to a worthy and verified charity. So don’t feel you have to silently and singularly help out an organization you like and feel is doing good work. Talk about your work and efforts. Have fun with your cause and look to encourage others to get involved. Also remember you are in fact joining a group. Many people who are seeking to help just like you. Saving the world does not fall on your shoulders alone. So don’t approach it with that mindset.
5.) Don’t Over-Extend Yourself.
First off – if you are donating money budget for it. Do not just give all your money away. Spend wisely. If you ruin yourself financially then you won’t be able to give in the future and that doesn’t help anyone. So spend wisely, budget accordingly, and continually give what you are able and comfortable in giving. If that is 10 dollars a year – then that is what it is. Don’t try to save the world all at once.
Of course just as important is to make sure you don’t over-extend yourself. Don’t wear yourself into the ground, working yourself to death, for a worthy cause. Again, if you destroy yourself in the process then your helping stops and no one wins in that situation. Slow and steady wins the race. You cannot cure or save the world overnight. Whatever cause you chose will take time. So pace yourself accordingly. You want to make a positive impact and that will take you a few years. So don’t spend all day every day giving all of your time, all of your energy, and all of your money. Because you can only keep that up for so long. So spend your time and money wisely on the charity of your choosing so you may do so for as long as possible/necessary.