The most generous time of the year is just around the corner. With holiday spirits high, corporations and individuals will make important decisions on the best ways to allocate their time, talent and treasure.
Some will maintain the status quo, choosing to repeat successful community outreach programs of the past. Others will challenge themselves to give to a new cause or endeavor.
It’s not uncommon for people in the second group to struggle with a few unknowns. Yet, that’s no reason to give up on the pursuit. Below are three common fears that creep up when we feel a calling to help in new ways, and a few ways to work through those natural reservations.
When we first begin researching a specific need, it can become pretty overwhelming pretty quickly. That’s because there’s an incredible amount of need in our communities, and the resources to address it are stretched thin.
Don’t be discouraged if you sense the time, talent or treasure you’re able to contribute isn’t enough. The old adage “Every little bit helps” is old for a reason – it’s true. Consider developing a stair-step approach in which you start out small and increase your giving over time. You might also talk with others in your network – colleagues, friends, strategic partners, vendors – to see if they are willing to match your contribution.
Even when you feel compelled to help, there may be a part of you that’s nervous. It can be intimidating to volunteer in new spaces or places. There are several ways to prioritize personal safety while answering that calling to help.
One is to connect with an organization familiar with the areas you want to go and the people you want to serve. Ask questions and insist on training. Experienced practitioners will be able to guide you through the things you need to know to be as safe as possible while serving. Another is to understand your qualifications. Talk with a knowledgeable person to get a full appreciation for the ins and outs of volunteering and be honest about whether or not it’s a good match for your skill set.
Getting it Right
People are often afraid of making mistakes – in giving and beyond. They worry about giving the wrong thing or the wrong amount, causing someone to feel bad or making an error in judgement. The simplest way to get around this fear is to ask. But, that’s not always possible, nor does it always feel appropriate.
Do your research. Talk to the people that have volunteered or contributed before you. Ask what they learned.
Second, practice. The more time you spend with an organization, cause, charity or set of people, the more aware you become and the more proactive you can be. That’s when giving really gets good – when you start to identify the need before it becomes acute.
Lastly, trust your gut. Something has alerted you to this particular need, so listen to that instinct. You may mess up, but that’s okay – mistakes are proof you’re trying. Learn from the misstep, apologize if necessary and prove you are there to get it right. You will.