By Patrina Dixon, Owner/Author/Speaker, P. Dixon Consulting, LLC
In today's world, there are many ways you can give back to your community or those in need. A small encouragement or support from your end may make a lasting impression on someone else's life. Also, as the saying goes, if others' generosity has blessed you in your past, you are obliged to pay it forward to keep the good karma going. There is nothing more fulfilling in life than helping someone else without expecting anything in return.
I was recently a part of many of Experian’s #CreditChat panels and shared my views on paying it forward and giving back.
As a personal finance expert, international speaker, host of the podcast The Money Exchange and an award-winning author of the financial journal book series, It'$ My Money™, I have been asked several times by Experian to share my views and this one is near and dear to my heart.
For me, the primary benefit of giving back and paying it forward is just the joy that comes with the act of helping someone else succeed. The fulfillment which comes with that act far exceeds any tangible benefits. The causes that I support are the ones that align closely with my own beliefs. Some include United Way, YWCA, and my church.
The act of giving back doesn't necessarily have to be monetary. Even some simple acts of kindness and thoughtful gestures can make a significant impact. The action can be as small as asking someone how they are doing at the start of the day, sending a kind note to your colleagues, friends, or family and just inquiring about their well-being or just reminding them that you are thinking of them. I find that I give back in time and labor more than anything monetary. Sometimes all that someone needs is for someone to listen to them and that's enough to brighten their day.
You can give back directly for charitable causes without breaking the bank. If you would like to be generous, there are multiple ways you can do it, even if you are on a tight budget. You can create or build something that you can then give out to those in need. An example during the COVID-19 time would be creating masks and donating them to the organizations where you can make a maximum impact. Another way would be to help provide food for people experiencing homelessness in your neighborhood, which again provides a significant effect on person in need without having to spend a lot. These are charitable activities that can be done on a low budget and without a lot of pre-planning.
The act of giving back doesn't necessarily have to be monetary. Even some simple acts of kindness and thoughtful gestures can make a significant impact.
I have spent a significant portion of time raising awareness in shaping the spending and saving behaviors of my clients to guide them toward financial independence. I believe whatever the cause is, the best way to raise awareness is by using social media platforms, especially video-based platforms like YouTube. That is where the audience who will be supportive of your cause is hanging out, and you reach them where they spend most of their time. COVID-19 has also put most of the conventional ways of supporting and helping your community on pause or moved to unconventional ways. This doesn’t mean it is not possible, you just have to be safe and social distance and wear masks.
Many people are out of jobs, and many small local business owners are trying to save their business. You can help them stay open by buying local and support the jobless in finding new jobs, hire them or contribute to train them.
As with anything positive within human endeavors, we also have negative aspects like fraudulent charities and organizations that pop up. The best way to determine if a charity is legit is to search their track record by researching on Google or the Better Business Bureau website to see their business rating. You can also check who the team members are running the charity and read their financial statements to understand what percentage of your charity goes to the cause and what percentage goes to administrative expenses.
Sometimes acts of kindness are a complete surprise and come out of the blue without any warning. The most memorable act of kindness I received was when my husband and I went out for dinner for our anniversary. We had a beautiful evening and thoroughly enjoyed our delicious four-course meal. When we completed our dinner and asked the waiter for the bill, we were pleasantly surprised. The waiter told us the gentleman seated at the table next to us had paid the entire bill and taken care of the tip as well. It was such an unexpected but beautiful gesture, especially coming on the day of our anniversary. The gentleman that paid asked the waiter not to tell us and he was gone when we found out.
One of the areas I focus on is finding ways to help inspire kids to be generous. I spend a lot of time working with kids on educating them in developing better financial prudence for their future. On my website, there is a free It'$ My Money™ and Sammy Rabbit Coloring Book that is perfect for kids to have fun while learning that saving is a great habit. In my experience working with kids, I believe that the best way to teach them about giving back is to show them acts of kindness instead of telling them to be kind.
The best way to give back and pay it forward is always to be kind, spread love and joy, tip the essential and demonstrate these actions in front of kids regularly.