The importance of giving all year round – not just during the holidays

By Al Novak, Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Excela Health

Whether it be donating toys, making financial contributions, or giving your time to a local organization, during the holidays, most of us feel a desire to give back.

But what if we could carry this feeling, this motivation, to do good for our community all throughout the year? Yes, the holidays certainly put us in the mood for giving, but think of the impact we could make if we carried this same attitude with us throughout the year.

Consider these top five reasons you should contribute all year round – and not just in December.

  1. The need exists throughout the year. People aren’t just going hungry during the holiday season. Families struggle to meet basic needs 365 days a year. And children need to be cared for and supported all year long, through mentoring programs, after school care, encouragement and more.
  1. Giving changes lives. No matter what day it is, what time of year it is, your gift of time, talent or treasure will touch someone in your community who needs help. Thanks to thousands of donors, supporters, volunteers and partners, United Way helps 414,000 local families, children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and more throughout the year.
  1. Doing good feels good. Throughout my time as a professional, I have come across a lot of research showing that giving is a good and healthy thing for all of us. It helps us mentally, physically and socially. People who are doing good in their community naturally feel better about themselves, knowing they have given back to the world and made a difference for someone.
  1. Bringing people together. When you give throughout the year, you’re opened up to a community of other givers. Whether that’s for United Way like myself, or another local agency, or maybe you connect with someone who’s giving to a different cause entirely – when we give throughout the year, we can connect as philanthropists, and there is power in that.
  1. Learn about your community. If your eyes are open all throughout the year and you are tuned in to the philanthropic scene, you will learn about the ins and outs of your community. Being involved with United Way, I have the opportunity to hear from different agencies and learn about the great work they’re doing and the people they’re supporting.

For these reasons and more, I make an effort to give and participate in charitable efforts throughout the year. Agencies, like United Way, who are doing the grass roots work to help struggling families, children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and others need our help.

After you make your year-end gifts and in-kind offerings this holiday season, consider making a philanthropic plan next year that is a 365-day commitment. You can start by identifying your passions and what you’d like to achieve with your gift, and find a cause that aligns.

For me, I knew that I was in the right place when I met baby Sam in Excela Health’s Family Additions Center two years ago. I learned that he was born addicted and could see that he was undersized even at the age of three weeks. In that moment, in addition to the work I do professionally and my support of United Way, I was compelled to do even more for my community to help families and babies like little Sam get healthy and make it in life.

When you make a commitment to your community throughout the year, you make a commitment to yourself. If we are all dedicated to giving back to our community in 2019, we will make an incredible impact in our region. I urge you to get started today.