Simplifying the Holidays: Everyday Philanthropy

everyday-philanthropist.jpgJennifer James is one of the first bloggers I met in real life, through the inaugural Disney mom bloggers mixer. She since has become a dear friend and a trusted professional confidante; someone I admire for her kindness, good karma, smart insights, and astute perspective as a long time blogger (among her many projects, she’s best known as the founder of the Mom Bloggers Club). The second in my Simplifying the Holidays guest blog series, today Jennifer shares a collection of wonderful ideas for everyday philanthropy where you can make a difference from the comfort of your home.

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From Jennifer:

It's the season of giving and there is no shortage of requests for donations to charitable causes both in our local areas and nationwide. While someone, somewhere is in dire need of help, it seems as though the demand is higher than ever before. Many people less fortunate than us desperately need a helping hand. The sheer numbers are overwhelming to be sure, but there is a lot we can do that does not always entail writing a check.

A new book, How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist, has hit book stores just in the nick of time for the giving season. With brilliant strategies and thorough research, Nicole Boles lists a plethora of charities in which you can donate your time and talents and that will make a measurable difference in the lives of those in need.

Reading through How to be an Everyday Philanthropist I was shocked, but delighted, by the types of charities you can volunteer your time to from home. As a busy mom, these are the types of charities that piqued my interest first and may pique your interest as well:

Read This to Me: I bet you didn’t know you could read documents to the blind and all that’s required is a fax machine and a working phone. Now this is a volunteer job we could conceivably do every day to help the blind. Read more on page 9.

Guide Dogs for the Blind: Guide dogs are amazing animals. They are expertly trained and wholly devoted to their master, but did you know that as puppies they are first raised and loved in the homes of everyday families like yours and mine? I didn’t either. Essentially you and your family raise a guide dog until they have to go to training school. What a great charity to give to! Read more on pages 33 and 34.

Look Pink: If you are a hardcore digital mom like me you probably spend your fair share of time on search engines. The next time you need to look up a recipe for dinner or want to do a search for mom blogs, for example, use Each search you perform automatically raises money to help fight breast cancer. Read more on page 47.

Hang Proud: It's tough being a young girl these days. Although we felt inordinate pressure to be stick thin and take cream puff courses in college, the expectation of girls to be sexy at younger ages is mind-boggling and girls still are underrepresented in science and math. That is why it is vital to mentor girls to become strong young women who are confident and love their bodies. And you guessed it, you can mentor a girl from the comfort of your own home. Through Hang Proud, you can become an e-mentor to a girl who is in desperate need of direction and a friend. Learn more on page 47.

Warm Up America: If you can crochet or knit you can help families stay warm during the bitterly cold winter months. Volunteers around the country knit everything from shawls to blankets to give to people who could genuinely use a handmade gesture to brighten their day and also keep them warm. Since 1992 volunteers have been keeping people around the world warm, from babies to women in battered shelters. Read more on page 63.

Giving to charitable causes does not always mean giving money, especially as the economy continues to do scary things to our savings accounts and discretionary income. But there are always ways of giving that utilize our skills and talents that really make a difference in the lives of others and that you can even do at home.

Learn more about charities that can benefit from your skills and devotion in How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist by Nicole Boles.

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Jennifer James is the founder of the Mom Bloggers Club and the The Mom Salon and writes about social media and mom blogging on her Tumblr blog. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter at @mombloggersclub.