How to Start Giving Back to Your Community

community philanthropy purpose social justice Oct 02, 2023

When it comes to giving back, it can be hard to know where to start. There are so many worthy causes out there to engage with and people you can impact. So how do you decide where to give your time, energy, platform and efforts? And how do you decide what to do to make positive change? 

Step 1: Focus on YOU. 

As simple as it sounds, it’s important to start with YOU. What do you care about? What matters to you? There may be an issue that impacts your local community, your family, or yourself personally. The best way to give back is to figure out what you will be motivated to continue to work to support. If you have to force yourself to show up, this might not be the cause or impact path longterm for you. Focus on those things that really matter to you, so that you can show up authentically and stay motivated to make a difference. 

Step 2: Reach out and ask what that community needs.

Once you have an idea of what matters to you, then it’s about understanding your strengths and where you can support. A good next step is to reach out to organizations, community organizers and those impacted to learn more about where the most support is needed and how your strengths can play a role. 

Don’t assume you know what a community or organization needs- take the time to meet and listen to what they feel would be most helpful.

Step 3: Identify where and how you can help. 

Once you have some conversations about what’s needed in that space, then it’s time to focus back on you. What skills or unique opportunities can you bring to the table? For example, maybe you are a great graphic designer, maybe you have a platform or community you can motivate to get involved, or maybe you can help plan an event around a cause. 

If finding a specific skill set that makes a difference feels overwhelming, think back to the conversations you had with organizations and members of that community. Can you donate a few hours of your time to them with some admin projects? Or do you have a few extra dollars to donate? All of these options are important and go a long way. Organizations and causes need every kind of support - from time to effort, to marketing and awareness, to monetary support and donations. 

Step 4: Start small.
It’s not about making the biggest impact at once, but rather making small and consistent efforts over time. Giving one hour a week every week is more impactful over time than giving 20 hours once a year. Don’t feel pressured to make and inspire huge changes overnight. It takes time to make an impact - don’t put the pressure on your shoulders to do it all. 

It’s most important to find causes and issues that authentically matter to you. So start there. If nothing comes to mind right away, explore a few things that you’re interested in, or join a friend and spend time supporting some of the causes they care about to see if they match your interests. It’s ok to take the time you need to explore what matters most before diving in.


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