Adam Gant is a committed philanthropist

Category: Service

The Vital Role Of Volunteerism In Philanthropy Adam Gant

The Vital Role Of Volunteerism In Philanthropy

Fundraising, for most charities, is a never-ending task. There is always more to be done than most charities have either the finances or resources to do. When resources are already stretched thin just trying to accomplish the primary mission of the charity, it can be easy to see why so many charities are reluctant to dedicate additional resources to recruiting, managing, supervising, or even training volunteers. This can, at times, seem like a tremendous waste of meager and precious resources for a charity.


For these reasons, most charities prefer to simply cultivate donors that will give money rather than volunteers who only give of their time. While understandable, however, this line of thinking may actually do a charity far more harm than good. The truth is, volunteers are not only every bit as valuable as donors but may in fact be even more so. In fact, in many cases, your best volunteers may also become your best donors.


Mother Teresa may have built one of the most successful and longest-lasting charities in the 20th century. One of the many ways in which she accomplished this work was by cultivating a long string of wealthy benefactors. Rather than simply taking their money, however, Mother Teresa was well known for encouraging them to “come and see.” She didn’t just simply want donors to give money, she wanted them to come and see the need for the charity.


Seeing a picture of a starving child, a storm-ravaged area, or an abused animal can certainly have an impact, but it is no match for personal interaction. A person may simply walk away from a picture and forget its very existence within a few minutes. Actually picking up a starving child and feeling the fragility of their bones and the shocking lightness of their frame, however, is an experience that may stick with someone for a lifetime. No matter how challenging it may be, the more exposure you give potential donors to the realities of the work you are doing and the very real need for it, the more likely you are to find all of your most valuable programs fully funded as soon as the need arises. The more your potential donors are able to see the need first-hand and with their own eyes, the more likely they are to help ensure you have all the resources you need to alleviate the problem.


Organizing a Holiday Food Drive

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, food pantries and food banks across the U.S. assist millions of families in obtaining holiday meals. There are many families in need, so hosting a drive for food at your school, office, church, or other organization can be a wonderful way to aid in keeping shelves stocked. This also raises awareness about any hunger that exists in the community. Before asking people to raid their cupboards and local grocery stores, keep these things in mind.


Start by Making Contact

Email or call the local food bank in advance of the holidays so that its rules and accepted food types can be learned. Often, food banks will have a member of the staff who is trained to help make volunteer food drives successful. They might be able to provide collection boxes, posters that display pertinent information, and sample emails that offer gratitude. Also, not all food pantries and banks can accept donations during the holidays. The increase in people seeking help, as well as the influx of well-meaning volunteers wishing to help share holiday cheer, add up to a very busy time.

Involve Kin and Kith

When one starts a holiday food drive, one can serve as an inspiration for others to involve themselves in the war against hunger. Even a simple collection of donations at a holiday get-together can make a difference. First, of course, ask the food bank what is needed, provide that list to the guests, and then experience the fulfillment of helping those in need with what they need. Another route is to ask one’s employer to assist with sponsoring a food drive. Perhaps an incentive such as a raffle prize or day for dressing casually can be offered for those who participate.

Go Virtual

Instead of collecting physical foodstuffs, consider a fundraising drive. This is a wonderful alternative to the traditional drive to fill food pantries. The money raised still goes to food, but it allows donated dollars to be transformed into more meals because groceries can be purchased at reduced prices. Banks can then choose the foods that best meet the needs of people using their services. Consider also carrying on the generosity of the season well past its end. 


What To Expect When Volunteering At An Animal Shelter Adam Gant

What to Expect When Volunteering at an Animal Shelter

Volunteering at an animal shelter is one of the best things that a person can do. Providing love, care, and comfort for animals in need benefits all involved. Animals give unconditional love and adoration to their humans, and being able to repay them for these gifts is the least that we can do. By knowing beforehand what to expect when volunteering at an animal shelter, potential volunteers can make the most of their experience and be of service in the best way possible for the shelter animals. Here are some things to keep in mind.


Volunteer Placements

There are many different roles for volunteers to fill at an animal shelter. People might help by socializing kittens, walking dogs, cleaning stalls, filling envelopes, answering phones, working off-site at adoption events, transporting animals to the vet, fundraising, being a foster parent, running social media accounts, and so much more. It is important to choose a position that you are both good at and that you enjoy, as that will increase your commitment to the animals. With so many volunteer options available, there is a way for everyone to help.


Training Events

Animal shelters generally require volunteers to attend training events for the volunteer position that they will be filling. For example, if you will be taking care of neonatal kittens, it is vital to receive the proper training in caring for these newborns. If you are working at adoption events, it is essential that you know the animal shelter’s policies for prospective adoptive families. Not only does training benefit the human volunteer and give guidance for proper care and best practices, but it protects the animals and ensures that they are treated humanely and compassionately. Training guarantees that everyone is on the same page with regard to the shelter and its animals.


Time Commitment

Animals are sentient beings, and they benefit from a continuity of care from the same people. For this reason, almost all animal shelters require that volunteers make a specific time commitment to fulfill their volunteering duties. Some shelters require that volunteers serve a minimum number of days per week, whereas some shelters expect a certain number of hours. All shelters will ask for a six month to one year commitment. Remember: it’s for the benefit of the animals!

Foods To Donate Adam Gant (1)

Foods to Donate in Bulk This Summer

Nutritionists recommend that people eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, dairy products and healthy oils or fats on a daily basis. For over 42 million Americans, putting food on the table is a struggle. They do not have the means to provide for the nutritional needs of their families.

Over 13 million children go hungry on a daily basis. As summer vacation begins, the hunger crisis becomes a more prevalent problem. Students who have been getting meals at school will now be home all day without appropriate food to eat.

Approximately 10 million elderly adults in America also experience daily hunger. The senior citizen population often hide their struggle with food. They have a tendency to use what they have to benefit other people.

Government programs only marginally help those who need food assistance. Some struggling Americans do not qualify for the assistance that is offered. As a result, more people are turning to food banks for help.

Most food banks rely on volunteers and donations to provide for people in need. As summer starts, donations begin to dwindle. With fewer contributions, food banks become limited on how much help they can provide. Bulk donations of non-perishable food items can help sustain a program’s food supply and keep them in business.

Here are some suggestions for items that can be donated in bulk.


  • Canned Meats
  • Canned Fish
  • Peanut Butter/Other Nut Butters
  • Dried or Canned Beans/Legumes


  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole Grain Cereal


  • Dry Milk
  • Canned Milk
  • Shelf-stable Cheese Products
  • Boxed Milk


  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruits
  • Raisins/Dried Fruits

Miscellaneous Items:

  • Spices
  • Vegetable, Beef, or Chicken Stock
  • Pasta Sauces
  • Gravy or Seasoning Mixes
  • Tea, Coffee or Drink Mixes

Hunger doesn’t stop for summer. Bulk donations to food banks can help provide nutritious meals for families in need all summer long.

How You Can Start A Community Farm Adam Gant

How You Can Start a Community Farm

When considering how you can benefit your community, donating money and goods may be the first idea to come to mind. However, there are other ways you can provide valuable resources and opportunities for those in your area. One such idea is starting a community farm. The benefits of a community farm are plentiful, especially in urban areas, and they are a great way for you to get involved with your neighbors and form lasting connections.


What Is A Community Farm?

Simply defined, a community farm is a shared plot of land that hosts produce, flowers, and other vegetation for anyone to use. These gardens are tended to by the community, meaning that anyone can plant seeds, water sprouts, and harvest fruits and vegetables. Often, community farms are started in order to provide healthy resources and cost-effective opportunities to individuals who might otherwise lack access to such things.


Some of the primary benefits of a community farm entail access to fresh produce, urban beautification, cleaner air, diversified relations, and a stronger, more tightly-knit community. Though starting and maintaining a community garden can certainly require a lot of hard work, the positive effects are worth the labor.


Getting Started

One of the most important steps to take prior to starting a community farm entails actually communicating with members of your community and gauging their interest. If you are the only individual who is passionate about the initiative and shows interest in tending to the farm, you might want to consider alternative means of serving your community. However, even connecting with your neighbors is a great start; showing them that you have an idea that would benefit everyone could be enough to convince them to support your initiative.


Identify Resources

From available, fertile land to gardening equipment, ensuring you have what is necessary for the urban farm is essential. You should devote some time to researching the organizations in your area such as gardening clubs or municipal planners who can support your idea and provide you with valuable resources and advice. Connecting with individuals in your community who have gardening or landscaping experience will also be beneficial.


Establish Guidelines

Budgeting finances and determining management duties is often a necessary aspect of beginning a community farm. Designating how you will receive funding for your farm—through fundraising or membership dues, for instance—and who will be responsible for tending to the garden throughout each week can help eliminate some stress and uncertainty. Putting these rules in writing is an important step, as well, to ensure everyone involved has a sense of responsibility for the project.


Once you have taken the necessary steps for preparation, you can begin. The benefits of a community farm are immense, and starting one can improve your community by adding to available resources, providing green space, and encouraging community connection and engagement.

How To Help Charities Without Donating Money Adam Gant

How to Help a Charity Without Donating Money

For those with generous hearts, supporting a cause or organization they support and believe in is fulfilling and rewarding. However, not everyone is always able to provide considerable monetary donations to charities they endorse. Naturally, there are ways to help a charity without simply giving them money, and these methods are as valuable as financial aid. Below are a few ways you can benefit your favorite charities beyond granting them donations.


Donate Time

Perhaps the most common and popular option, volunteering with a charity is a great way to get involved and benefit the organization. Charities that operate soup kitchens, for example, are often in need of volunteers to serve the food. Homeless shelters, too, require volunteers to maintain and manage the living quarters. Many organizations that provide public services or resources require volunteers to help facilitate their work. Other charities could benefit from individuals with expertise in areas such as marketing or Information Technology (IT). Your skills and free time can be used to benefit charitable organizations, and while you may need to expend time, energy, and gas to do so, you won’t be directly financing the organization’s operations.


Donate Goods

Even if your financial status limits your ability to donate money, you may still be able to donate other items. Things like clothes, shoes, books, food, and paper products are typically welcomed in a number of organizations. If you have old, functional electronics, used vehicles, or furniture you no longer use, some charities accept these items, as well. Donating these items to a charity shop or distribution center can help those organizations provide valuable resources to those in need.


Donate Blood

Organizations like the Red Cross are always in need of blood and plasma donors. Donating blood costs nothing and is used to save lives. Most people are capable of donating blood, and the process usually lasts less than half an hour. For those who are able, donating platelets is also a great way to give back; platelets are necessary for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or receiving organ transplants, so they are especially valuable.


Helping charitable organizations doesn’t need to entail a financial contribution. Instead, you can consider donating your blood, time, and unwanted goods to those in need. Doing so limits the strain on your budget while also enabling you to benefit your community.

Beating Poverty with a Smartphone

Philanthropy is an ancient Greek word that roughly translates “to love mankind”. It doesn’t – contrary to the opinions of some – merely refer to the act of wealthy people writing checks. In the digital age of connection where communication with people halfway around the world can happen in a matter of seconds, the development of technologies that help to fight poverty is genuinely extraordinary.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our ability to support organizations from the comfort of our smartphones. Often, making a difference is just a click away. And while there is no substitute or better way to transcend our circumstances than by actively giving of ourselves and engaging with people, the simple fact that we can help, even in the smallest of ways, in such a quick and accessible manner is truly worth spotlighting.

Below are three great (free) ways you can help not only alleviate poverty but fight to eliminate it from the comfort of your home and the ease of your smartphone.

Pictures Against Poverty

Donate A Photo, an app by Johnson & Johnson, allows people to help fight poverty by simply taking a photo. This app is free and easy, and for every photo “donated” Johnson & Johnson will make a charitable donation of $1 towards the organization of your choice. Each person is allowed to upload one photo per day, which is an easy $365 given to charity through the course of a year, with no charge on account of the person snapping the selfies.

Walk for Water

Charity Miles is a free app that tracks your steps and donates money to a charity of your choice for each mile. It’s another great free app that provides you the chance to give while you also get your daily dose of exercise. One of the charities you can donate to is charity:water, an excellent philanthropic effort that provides clean drinking water to people who lack it. Currently, there are 800 million people who still do not have access to clean drinking water, and Charity Miles allows you to give to charities that are actively addressing that problem.

Helping Corporations Care

Tinbox is a free app that donates participating corporation’s dollars on behalf of your donation. The app is free, so all you have to do is log in, tap ‘donate’, and you are spending corporate dollars to help fight poverty. The app lets you give one dollar a day to a specific project a charity is working on, and it’s another creative and exciting way to ban together and help people.

For all of the complications that modernity has ushered in when it comes to fighting poverty, there are more ways than ever to help, even if it is in seemingly small ways. We all have the responsibility and opportunity to help our neighbor, and the above-mentioned apps, as well as many more, are indeed beneficial and edifying ways to do so.

Why Charity Can Only Take Us So Far

In an age that seems obsessed with social change, shouldn’t we be thrilled by the charity of others? It’s true, all the help that we give to those who are suffering is good and necessary. But I do fear that some of the push for change we see in the world is rooted out of a “knee-jerk” emotional desire for the world to change, as opposed to a solidified, strategic goal of embodying that change we so desperately wish to see.

This concept has recently led me to think about the difference between charity and philanthropy. To many, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference. In fact, many view charity as the organizations that give money to those in need and philanthropy as something that famous people do to give back. But the truth is, you don’t have to be or know Bono or even be massively wealthy to be a philanthropist.

There are more to these concepts than we typically think, and I believe it’s vitally important we discuss the reasoning and outcomes of both.

What’s the Difference?

Charity is the change we leave in the jar in the hopes that change will come in the world. While giving to charities is an excellent cause (and there are many great charities), it’s often classified as something that is an emotional and momentary response to something we see or hear about in the world. In fact, Steve Gunderson, former president of the Council of Foundations, provides a helpful distinction between charity and philanthropy:

Charity tends to be a short-term, emotional, immediate response, focused primarily on rescue and relief, whereas philanthropy is much more long-term, more strategic, focused on rebuilding. There is charity, which is good, and then there is problem-solving charity, which is called philanthropy. – Steve Gunderson

Charity tends to focus on what we can do in response to something.

Philanthropy focuses on providing dignity and respect to the individual.

Buying a meal for someone who is without a home is a great thing to do, but seeking to help build them up as a contributing member of society is even better. For me, philanthropy aims to instill confidence, dignity, and a sense of purpose back into those that so many in society can often forget. Charity is to be encouraged and is still required. But we should also encourage people to continue past giving and enter into partnerships and relationships with organizations and with people.

All are worthy of love, equity and respect. And for me, that’s what philanthropy is.

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