Based in Vancouver, Canada, this is a blog by Michael Argast. My areas of interest include travel, economics, technology, the environment, personal development and other eclectic topics.

Giving back...

To those who are given much, much is expected. - Maya Angelou

After Black Friday, Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday. A day in recognition of giving back, encouraging people to donate time, money, energy to charities and other good causes.

When I stepped back from full time work a year ago I made a conscious effort to step up my giving activities. Earlier this year I joined an great local organization called Social Venture Partners (SVP), which is gives money and volunteer effort from experienced professionals towards early stage charities focusing on at-risk youth.

Last week I attended a session run by SVP that really opened my eyes to the reach and impact of non-profit organizations in all our lives. Examples in just my life include the church that sponsored my wife's family to Canada when she was just 7. It includes the sports clubs (Burnaby Girls Soccer, others) my daughters participate in. It includes ISACA, a non-profit industry association I participate in. It includes the numerous volunteers who build and maintain the trails I love to hike in the summer with my family, or the Rotary groups that build sea walks, parks and more. It includes my school PAC that fundraises for a new playground, runs a hot lunch program, plans Grad activities. 

In Canada, over 2 million people are employed by the non-profit sector, and the combined budgets and impact of these organizations is larger than that of the Big 5 banks. This doesn't include all the volunteer hours, non-employed people who give time, energy, money.

We are blessed to live in a society that cares so much, where so many people give so much. I personally have always found that giving is like exercise and energy - your gifts provide you more in return, and energize you, rather than tiring you out. 

My wife has always been an inspiration to me - she's always finding new causes, volunteering, offering advice to others in their struggles, lifting up through generosity. 

The great thing about giving back is there are options for everyone. If environmentalism is your cause - there are great organizations like the Green Team that removes invasive species from our parks. If children are your cause, Big Brothers, Take a Hike, literacy programs, Brownies, a sports league - there are tons of ways to contribute. Even in your work environment, taking the time to find and mentor others, joining an industry association as a volunteer - or even if you're brand new, taking the time to share what you learn with those around you can be not only fulfilling, but extremely rewarding as you develop your career.

Like any other learning experience - giving is a muscle, a skill that develops as you use it. Take a moment to ask yourself - how are you giving back? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

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