Editor’s note: This Reader Forum was written by Mary Beth Schewitz of the Max Schewitz Foundation. We encourage you to comment and respond to this but please include your full name. Click here to read the GazeboNews comments and Reader Forum policies.
By Mary Beth Schewitz
Feeling over-extended and under-funded but wishing you could do more to help a good cause? Throw out any notions you may hold about charities needing only financial contributions or committee chairs. Embrace the micro-commitment. Many hands make light work, and it is never truer than when helping a charity reach its goals. Here are five helpful activities that almost all charities would welcome:
1. Contribute an auction item or an item to an auction basket: Do you own a flower shop, pizza parlor, or other consumer-focused business? Donate a product or gift certificate. Most auctions sell themed baskets and would welcome individual items. A luxurious loofa or scented soap would suit a guest room basket; measuring cups, a garlic press, or a cookbook would be welcome in a new kitchen basket. Better yet, get five friends to help with your own theme and donate a complete basket. Baskets often sell for $75-$150, so your $10 contribution will pay a big dividend for the charity.
2. Donate your special skill: Deerfield Children’s author Ruth Spiro is way-over-her-head busy, but she put a charitable spin on her business by donating an author visit to the Max Schewitz Foundation’s 2010 auction. Not only did that raise funds for the Foundation, it also enriched the education of second graders at the W.C. Petty School in Antioch (see photo). Do you think Inovasi Chef John des Rosiers has gobs of time? Not a chance, but he set aside time to design the fundraiser’s dinner menu, and he plans to work with volunteer chefs-in-training to produce a delectable meal for Maxtravaganza guests–the fundraiser is on June 18 at Lake Forest Sports Cars. . Unique talents add richness to a benefit auction. Whether you’re a star field hockey player, a piano teacher, a photographer or a proofreader your unique talents can be auctioned as a mini-internship experience. You don’t have to be famous to make a difference. (Visit theÂ 2011 Maxtravaganza auction page to see who else donated!)
3. Help with advance preparation: Have an hour to spare? Call and ask if there’s a need. Oftentimes charities have easily delegated jobs that can be completed in an hour. It may not be glamorous–washing flower vases, hanging posters, picking up supplies, or assembling packets, but hey, it all has to get done by a deadline so every hour is appreciated.
4. Help at the event: This is truly one of the most rewarding, fast-paced, yet short-term commitments. You’ll be assigned a specific task, and you’ll probably work with someone you don’t know, but you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and possibly a new friend by the end of the event.
5. Spread the word: Most charities have a strong mission and limited publicity budgets. Your word-of-mouth advertising can raise awareness and support for their cause. Post a link on Facebook or your own website; Twitter about an event; tell two people and ask them to do the same. You’d be surprised at how effective a big mouth can be in helping a charity sell tickets.
Even if you’re short on funds and time, you have what it takes–don’t be shy! You might be surprised by what you learn and who you meet–two of the great unexpected rewards of volunteering.