Ideas for Summertime Giving

Today is the first official day of summer! Many of us are looking forward to traveling to a vacation spot and reconnecting with family. Some will be very happy to enjoy some R&R during a “staycation”. But, for some families, summer brings a new level of stress. With kids home from school families may struggle with childcare as they head to work. And many who rely on subsidized school meals may be scrambling more than ever to put food on the table.

Summer is a hard time for nonprofits. Demand is high and supplies are low. As businesses and families enter summer-mode, donations to nonprofits come to a frightening halt. For three months there will be no school drives for the local food pantry. Businesses also slow down their charitable work as employees head out on vacations. Now is the time for individuals to step up and lend a hand. Is there a way to enjoy summer AND help your local nonprofit? We say, absolutely yes! Here are some ideas to get you started.

1) Get the kids involved. Kids are home and looking for something to do. They have loads of energy, creativity and enthusiasm. Talk to your kids about ways they can make a difference in your community this summer – they are never too young to start. Fun activities like a car wash or lemonade stand can collect money for a cause. A summer food drive is a great idea. Kids love using the technology at to run an online food drive. They can tap into their social networks and learn how to use social media for good. Setting up a drive is simple, free, fun and most importantly, gets much-needed food items delivered to local food pantries.

2) Get the grandparents involved. Retired people are a great resource for charitable work. Many welcome the responsibility and interaction that come with volunteer work but don’t know where to start. Recruit your parents, grandparents, older neighbors, and senior center patrons to help support your cause.

3) Collect donations at your next family or business event. Is your business holding a summer picnic? Are you planning a graduation, birthday party or just fun get together? Why not ask each attendee to bring a canned good to your event? Set up a table to drop off and showcase the goods you’ve collected. We promise this donation table will be a happy topic of conversation at your event.

4) Make a difference as a family. Family time is important to many over the summer months. What better way to motivate and bond a family than to work together for a greater good? Studies show that kids that see parents and grandparents volunteering are more likely to volunteer and donate to charity as they get older. Animal lovers, call your local animal shelter and set up a time for the whole family to go in and volunteer. Families of book lovers can run a book drive for area kids’ summer programs. Outdoorsy families can grab gloves and a garbage bag and clean a local park. Active exercise enthusiasts can organize a neighborhood run or fun walk benefiting a cause. Choosing your cause, organizing and planning the event, no matter how small, will be some of the most rewarding family time you’ve ever spent. Imagine how you will all feel when you have accomplished your goal, together.

5) Virtual volunteering. If it's hard for you to commit to a scheduled time and place to volunteer, virtual volunteering is a relatively new option for you to consider. Contact the nonprofit that is close to your heart and discuss virtual volunteer opportunities. A few hours of your time using your home computer can make a big difference to a nonprofit. Offer your expertise in accounting, marketing, graphic design, party planning, logistics, and more.

Let’s not forget that simple acts of kindness count too. Consider helping an elderly neighbor with yard and home maintenance – another great opportunity to get the kids involved.

So, enjoy summer 2016 and make it a momentous one by making a conscious effort to add in at least one act of philanthropy. Like sleep, exercise and eating well, philanthropy is proven good for the mind, body, and soul. Enrich your lazy days of summer with compassion and action to help those in need in your community.

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