If you want to make a difference in the world, you can. Here’s how you can organize your affairs to enable you to leave your mark on the world.
Make a commitment
The first thing to do is to commit to making a difference. You can have a huge impact in your community and on the world without quitting your job or divorcing your spouse. It starts with deciding to do it.
Identify a cause
You may get asked routinely to make donations of your pizza money to various causes. You can continue to do that if you want, but you should choose one or two causes that will be the focus of your family philanthropy. Find a cause that fuels your passion, that you can do as a family and that you can do with your friends. Do something that matters enough that you’ll stick with it throughout your life.
Get involved in the cause with your time. It doesn’t need to be a great deal of time, but even an hour or two each week consistently will allow you to have an impact. In one year, you could be donating 100 hours. If you involve your whole family that would be hundreds of hours. Over a decade it will become thousands and thousands of hours. Your contribution of time will become huge all by itself.
The average American gives about 3 percent of her income to charity. About 20 percent of Americans who itemize their deductions give 10 percent or more of their income to charity. If you really want to make a difference, you’ll want to be organizing your finances to allow you to give at least 5 percent of your income to your cause.
There is a real synergy that develops between your money and your time. If you are giving both to the same cause, you’ll find yourself involved in decision-making for your cause before you know it. You’ll be invited to serve on planning committees and then the board. Before long, you could be the chairman of the board of a local charity or the local chapter of a national or international charity. In any case, there will be little question that you are having an impact and you won’t have to worry about how the money is used, because you’ll be influencing that directly.
This plan requires that you make wise financial choices about the home you buy, how often you move, the cars you drive and how often you replace them. It won’t require you to forgo retirement savings or family vacations. In fact, a family service vacation may be the vacation of a lifetime.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.