The Power of Giving

Ways to Give Back while you Travel

Giving Tuesday
Love to travel? Love to give back? Why not combine them? IMG: via Shutterstock

Having the funds and resources to travel abroad is a huge privilege. Every continent holds different adventures, experiences, and different landscapes and cultures that are just waiting to be explored. But how can you give back to the communities that are so gracious to have you along the way? Here are some ways to give back while you travel:

Provide a Microloan – There are organizations all over the world where you can contribute small amounts of money and make an immeasurable change in someone else’s life. These microloans help entrepreneurs in these developing countries start or expand their current small business. If you’re interested in providing microloans, we suggest looking into organizations like Kiva or Investours.

Try a different way of travel – There are certain companies that allow you to travel differently so while you take a nice trip you can still make a difference. There are organizations like Epic Road that will take you to Africa and while you safari you can go with a team and implant a microchip in an endangered black rhinoceros. You can also help with anti-poaching efforts or the adoption of baby elephants if their mom has been taken to poaching.

India has Reality Tours where you can visit the slums in Bombay and the profits they make are reinvested into that community. These activities will not only enrich your understanding of other cultures, but provide support to the places you visit.

Volunteer while you travel – There are more than enough opportunities to volunteer while abroad, including long-term and short-term options. Some places will encourage you to volunteer for free, others will charge a fee for volunteers. Do your homework so you can be sure to make a real difference.

Support local business – When you travel to a new place, it can sometimes feel more comfortable to stick with what you know. However, giving back while traveling sometimes means stepping outside of your comfort zone! Instead of relying on hotel restaurants and chain stores for your needs, pay a visit to the local eateries and shops. Eating and shopping locally will greatly help family-run stores and restaurants who rely on tourism for their well-being. Besides, you may stumble upon some real local gems that the concierge overlooked!

How do you give back when you travel?


Hillary Clinton Encourages Tech Companies to Give Back

Hillary Clinton
Image: Alan Freed

While speaking at Dreamforce 2014, a tech convention for cloud-based data management company SalesForce, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton focused on the ways tech companies can—and should—give back to their communities.

“What we have to be really focused on now is making sure that the benefits of technology to people’s lives outweigh the pitfalls,” said Clinton, adding that it was important that companies such as SalesForce are “creating more jobs, connecting up more families and communities, and expanding our horizons.”

SalesForce in particular has focused on charitable causes with their 1/1/1 model, which commits SalesForce to donating 1% of its time, products, and financial resources to humanitarian organizations. That’s meant $68 million in grants and 680,000 volunteer hours from staff for more than 23,000 nonprofits and schools around the world in the last 15 years.

These comments come at a time when companies at large, and particularly tech-oriented businesses, are cutting back on philanthropic giving. In 1986, corporations were giving 2.1% of profits to charity; by 2012, that percentage had dropped to 0.8%.

And though tech companies are generally doing well financially, many have still seen fit to take from their communities instead of giving back: Twitter negotiated $56 million in tax breaks from San Francisco to support its expansion, and Oracle convinced the city to use public funds to host America’s Cup race, which cost $11.5 million after dismal fundraising attempts fell short.

On the other hand, Google remains one of the most philanthropic US companies, donating $1.1 billion to charity in 2012—8.5% of its profits. However, most of these charitable donations go to international charities, begging the question of whether or not tech companies should be focusing more locally, or if all philanthropy is equally necessary.

In the wake of these events, Clinton’s Dreamforce speech encouraged industry leaders to fulfill what she described as their duty to use tech for social good, potentially kickstarting a new wave of philanthropic giving.


How to Give Back in Everyday Ways

Giving Benefits
IMG: via Shutterstock

One of the best things about giving back to your community is that doing good can be implemented in everyday ways. Rather than feeling like you need to book a trip to a foreign country to take part in humanitarian efforts or give your entire life savings to a charitable organization, there are many ways you can give back in realistic ways.

The first place to look is in your own bloodline. Rather than turning all your attention to finding a soup kitchen or nursing home in need of volunteers, look at those in your immediate circle and family to find those in need. Do you have a cousin or niece who doesn’t have money to get to school? Or how about an aunt who needs to be driven to the grocery store once a week? Remember, your family and circle of friends are just as deserving of your compassionate efforts to do good as anyone else.

Rather than just helping every once in awhile, find a way to give back regularly. When you donate your time and efforts consistently, especially with children, they can follow your example and you will inadvertently start a chain reaction. Your influence goes above and beyond just those you are in immediate contact with. Spread the influence, and “pay it forward” with regular good deeds and volunteer efforts.

Another easy way to give back with just a small change can be to rethink your birthday. Usually during the year, all our calendars begin to explode with all the things we have to do, and it seems like we will never have enough hours. This is when volunteering gets placed on the back burner. Instead, use a day like your birthday to give eight hours of service. This is one day that you can consistently dedicate to volunteer work each year.

How do you give back to your community in everyday ways?