Giving is not mysterious or complicated. We humans are inclined toward good. And so:
I give because I can – I have more than enough and so many others have less than they need to live with dignity.
I give because I should – our better angels call us to do our part to make our world less broken and to help those in need or distress.
I give because of my father’s example – he lived a big, generous life of leadership and philanthropy, and I am inspired by the good he did.
I joke sometimes about “the warm glow of doing good” as my reward for donating or volunteering. Turns out, this notion has been studied extensively by economists and behaviorists, and it’s real. Doing good makes a person feel good. There is an emotional return to altruism.
Earlier this summer, I completed nine years of service on the board of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, which helps people in 34 counties who don’t have enough to eat. I was a food writer earlier in my career, and fighting hunger resonates for me. The Food Bank continues to hold a special place in my heart and is the focus of my giving; I’ve seen its impact and know its leaders and staff work from a deep sense of calling.
With time to do something new, I became a volunteer at The Green Chair Project, which is across Capital Boulevard from the Food Bank’s new central facility in Raleigh. In a nutshell, the Green Chair repurposes donated furniture and household goods to help Wake County residents emerging from homelessness. My usual volunteer task is sewing table runners and shower curtains from donated fabric, and I like to imagine families enjoying them in their new apartments. I like to know I have helped, and I like being part of a dedicated corps of volunteers.
All of which is to say: Please give. Open your hearts, your hands and your checkbooks and give as freely and generously as you can. Discern what unmet needs touch you deeply, find reputable nonprofits working to meet them and introduce yourself with a gift and an offer to help. And then, see how good that feels.