September 5 will mark the second annual United Nations International Day of Charity, a day on which the U.N. encourages the world’s citizens to raise awareness and donate time to charitable acts. The U.N. General Assembly created the Day under Resolution 67/105 in 2012 “to promote charitable activities around the world.” The GA selected the date to honor Mother Teresa, who dedicated much of her life to charity and who passed on September 5, 1997. “Donations of time or money; volunteer engagement in one’s own community or on the other side of the world; acts of caring and kindness with no thought of recompense; these and other expressions of global solidarity help us in our shared quest to live together in harmony and build a peaceful future for all,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Here are a couple of ways to celebrate the Day:
Volunteer Close to Home
Explore websites like Volunteer Match that allow its users to browse volunteer opportunities based on location and interests. A 2001 U.N. report claims volunteering grows social networks, increases self-esteem, develops skills important to future employment opportunities, gives volunteers a sense of purpose, and equates to a U.S. economic benefit of $225 billion per year. To volunteer with the spirit of International Day of Charity to the fullest extent, volunteer without any intention of including the experience on a resume. Choosing to volunteer for an issue or organization for which you are passionate, could lead you to continue the effort even after the Day of Charity.
Log On to Social Media
With Social Media connecting millions of people around the world, it is now easier than ever to advocate at the grassroots level. The Blackbaud Index estimates the nonprofit sector raised $22 billion online in 2011. Starting an online fundraising campaign to share with your friends and followers can raise funds for a noble cause and inform others about the issue. However, if those of you with social media accounts do nothing else to celebrate International Day of Charity, like their Facebook page and follow @IntDayOfCharity. Supporters can tweet using #CharityDayUN, share the website of their favorite charity or volunteer organization, or share articles relating to the Day of Charity.
Americans gave $335.17 billion to charity last year alone, and the U.N. would like to see a spike in that giving in September. But beyond giving directly to your organization of choice, try involving more people in donating for the Day of Charity. A door-to-door food drive for a local soup kitchen is another chance to remind others about the upcoming Day and encourage them to participate. Those who may not be able to give monetarily could consider sorting through old clothes and household items to donate to organizations like the Salvation Army.
However you choose to celebrate the International Day of Charity, remember to, as Ki-Moon says, “recognize charity for what it is at heart: a noble enterprise aimed at bettering the human condition.”
– Erica Lignell