Investing in Others, Your Family, and Yourself: Volunteerism

| July 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

giving1 Investing in Others, Your Family, and Yourself: VolunteerismChris Shannon, an educator for over twenty years, mom of two kids, and  financial literacy consultant for rAsa consulting, wrote this powerful article about the power of generosity that I would like to share with you.

It’s a familiar story—the first time we donated to a new cause, we were gung ho. Then the recession hit; we shaved off a bit when we gave the following year. Then, unemployment; we gave half. And requests keep pouring in—from organizations we already support, organizations we want to support, and many, many more. As our family struggles each month, and every penny suddenly seems precious, I feel guilt at not contributing, of not giving back. But zeroing out the charitable giving line in our budget doesn’t fit our values and doesn’t send the message I want to my kids. Turns out this is not a problem, but an opportunity.

Since the 2008 recession, non-profits struggle to meet increased demand with less funding. Given growing concerns of unemployment, underwater mortgages and rising college costs, it’s understandable that many of us have greatly reduced our charitable giving. However Kent Burress, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House in Austin TX, puts it best: “So many people think, ‘Oh,  I can’t help because I don’t have any money.’ Well, we’re all blessed with time.” Give your most valuable resource to others and watch your personal investment grow!

Publications from health organizations such as Nemours and the  American Academy of Pediatrics identify many benefits of volunteering with your family, including:

  • Volunteerism teaches community investment and fosters a connection and sense of belonging for your teen. They also learn more about the resources available within the community and are better informed to help their friends, or even themselves down the road.
  • Volunteerism can teach practical lessons—healthy eating from a community garden, the importance of reading by volunteering at a library, how to care for others by working at homeless shelter, how to be a responsible steward of the earth cleaning up public spaces, and so on.
  • Volunteerism can provide your teen with valuable job-readiness skills and life skills. Volunteerism creates a sense of pride, control and confidence—deeply necessary in teen years when everything seems beyond one’s control and self-efficacy is just forming. They learn that what they do can make a positive impact.

Best of all, volunteerism can create family traditions and memories. We spent so much time and money on a Disney vacation, but our kids have stronger memories of baking cookies to give to public workers during the holidays each year. Such memories and traditions are the glue that holds a family together long after your teens have grown and left the house. We tend to remember experiences more than things–so make it an experience worth remembering.

The potential rate of return from investing your time in a non-profit or worthy cause, and spending that valuable time with your family, will make you rich indeed.

About the Author ()

Jill Suskind, M.Ed. is a 25-year veteran public school teacher. Since 2007, she has been working with parents and their teens, providing innovative, practical, and effective resources and guidance for preparing teens for adulthood with positive money habits and attitudes. You can learn more about her work at

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