Many of us will say we want to give back to the community at Christmas, but in December, as the shopping frenzy intensifies, the social calendar fills up, and we’re budgeting for lunch, gifts, and maybe even travel, good intentions can get lost by the wayside.
We all know why it’s good to give; it helps others, and it makes the giver feel good too, but there are many other benefits. Research shows that it’s good for our health, promotes social connection and cooperation, and best of all, it’s contagious. If you start giving this Christmas, it’s likely it will actively encourage others around you to do the same, meaning you are actually giving far more than your initial donation.
So, here is our practical guide to how you can make room for giving this Christmas.
Be guided by your heart
Find a cause that has meaning for you, and you will find it easier to make commitments, whether that be time, money, or both. For me, I witnessed a family member require a life-saving double-lung transplant, and this led me to give my time and money to The Lungitude Foundation in hopes of improving survival rates and outcomes for organ transplant recipients and their carers. There are thousands of charities out there who need your support, and you’ll find one that fits you. (Although if you are looking for a cause, I can’t recommend Lungitude enough.)
Replace something you won’t miss
Think about the small, unnecessary items you buy for Christmas and consider replacing them with a donation. Decorations are a great example; from trinkets that will collect dust in the garage for the next eleven months to Christmas crackers that end up in landfill, Australians spend $1b on decorations each year. Perhaps buy a few less this year and donate the money instead.
For Apt, an obvious one is corporate Christmas cards. While it is a nice tradition to send a card to clients and partners, the reality is that they all end up in the recycling. Instead, we donate to charities; this year, it was Redkite, World Vision, and Lungitude. We believe giving back is just as important to our clients and partners as it is to us, and the vast majority would prefer the money was spent on someone who needs it.
Give a gift with meaning
In a society that often laments that we have too many possessions, we do a good job of restocking at Christmas! Many of our gifts are unwanted – your child’s teacher probably doesn’t want another box of chocolates, for example.
Giving in someone else’s name can make you feel good and them too. Many charities have the option to send an eCard to the gift recipient, telling them what you have bought in their name. You can look for a charity that aligns with their profession or interests; e.g., for the teacher, organisations like Learning Links and The Smith Family that support education for disadvantaged children are a great choice.
For some of us, the tradition of a physical gift is important, and there are ways to do this that still enable you to give back. Many charities offer the option to buy physical goods where profits are given back to community causes, such as Conscious Step, where you can buy socks and indicate the cause you want your money to support.
Giving is better than receiving
If you know family or friends will buy you a gift, it’s an excellent opportunity to tell them you would prefer a donation. It’s also a great way to teach your children or grandchildren about the importance of community spirit and giving to others less fortunate – a lesson that truly can change lives.
It doesn’t have to cost a cent
You may also look for a way that your family can give time to a cause at Christmas. It can be a great way to not only contribute to the community but also spend meaningful time with your family – and potentially create a new tradition. Think things like serving Christmas lunch at a homeless shelter, caring for animals at a rescue centre, or packing gifts for a charity drive. Smaller and grassroots charities are often in need of time and can get overlooked because they don’t have a marketing budget to get their cause front and centre. Websites like govolunteer.com.au can help you find opportunities near you.
So, whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity, your giving is much more than just a year-end chore. It may help you build stronger social connections and even jumpstart a cascade of generosity through your community.
And, don’t be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process.
General Advice warning
The information provided in this blog does not constitute ﬁnancial product advice. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, ﬁnancial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for speciﬁc professional advice. Apt Wealth Partners (AFSL and ACL 436121 ABN 49 159 583 847) and Apt Wealth Home Loans (powered by Smartline ACL 385325) recommends that you obtain professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.