Have a Hart Day Illustrates 21st Century Volunteering

Have a Hart Day is a volunteer initiative started by Hannah Hart, a YouTube star, actor, author, and comedian best known for her web series My Drunk Kitchen. Hart is by no means the first celebrity, of any scale, to start a charitable organization, but Have a Hart Day, often shortened to HAHD, isn’t a charitable organization. It’s a model of volunteering that is focused on building community and helping others.

Hart has a philosophy that she refers to as “reckless optimism,” which entails moving forward and staying positive as much as possible. It’s helped her through some rough times in her own life, and it’s something that she’s had success sharing with others. Part of that process is a mantra of “when in doubt, help someone out.” HAHD is exactly that, it provides an opportunity to help others, at soup kitchens, food banks, or anywhere else that volunteers are needed.

Because the focus is on helping out, and not on helping particular people or in a particular place, it has a wide, global appeal. It also capitalizes on the fact that many of the volunteers who attend HAHD events are young, Hart has a lot of teenaged and “millennial” fans, and still trying to figure out what they want to do with themselves, in their lives, professions, and charitable work. HAHD events happen all over the world, with some cities seeing more events than others, with some bigger or smaller.

Unlike a charity fundraiser, there’s little chance of a HAHD event failing. Any number of volunteers are better than no volunteers at a soup kitchen in Seattle, for example. With enough planning events can be large and have a big impact, but Hart’s fan base, the people who are largely being drawn into these events, can get together and help out at almost a moment’s notice, without great expenditure on their part, or on the part of the group they’re working with.

News The Power of Giving

How to Get Your Kids to Volunteer

Raising children with the expectation that they will give back to their communities is important, and not just because you want to give them things to put on their resumes or eventual college applications. Teaching children the value of volunteer work teaches them to value what they have, to appreciate their own lives and find worth in the lives of others. The most effective ways to teach children about the importance is giving are to show them how through example and to simply talk about it with them.

Children whose parents talk to them about charity and volunteering are 20 percent more likely to give to charity than those whose parents don’t talk to them about it, says a study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. And that’s a very good thing.

“It’s especially important for kids to experience fulfillment from giving back because it lays the groundwork for them to grow up to be empathetic and philanthropic adults,” says Sharon Epperson, Senior Personal Finance Correspondent at CNBC. Especially as the holidays are just around the corner, now is a wonderful time to talk to your children about philanthropy.

Even better is to help them find a cause or a program your child wants to support, and there are plenty of them out there! Participate in their schools’ toy, coat, or canned food drives. Encourage them to learn about different charities or causes online to help them improve their readings skills and find something they care about.

“Young people today have been raised on phones and tablets in a way no other generation has,” says Lisa Tomasi, founder and CEO of YouGiveGoods, an online site for stating food or supply drives. “Kids can start their own campaign and track its progress. It’s a method they are familiar with an engaged in.”

There are lots of other ways to get your kids volunteering, too. Incorporate some kind of volunteer work into your family’s schedule—once a week, once a month, or once a year. If volunteering is part of your family’s values, kids are likely to grow up to embody them better.

Get out there and get going!

Donation News The Power of Giving

Millennials Prefer Volunteering to Donation

Millennials, those people who are now between the ages of 18 and 34, tend to get a bad wrap. They are often accused of not working hard enough, or expecting too much out of the opportunities they do have. Some older folk seem to think that all millennials are self-important children, who think they’re important or special because they all got participation awards when they were young (given to them, ironically enough, by the same generations that are complaining about it now).

But millennials have inherited a pretty broken economy, a faltering infrastructure, and a generally terrible job market. Millennials are often underemployed, with many working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Despite all this though, many still find time to help out in their communities.

According to a study from Achieve, a research agency, 77% of millennials would prefer to donate their time and find a charity they can help with a skill or expertise they’ve developed. Considering that many millennials are over-educated and underemployed, this isn’t terrible surprising. It’s easier to help out than to donate money, and it’s generally more personally rewarding.

The study also found that millennials tended to focus their energy on charities which were related to issues that directly affect people in their lives. Doing so allows them to bring a level of passion to their work that older volunteers may lack. These young people know that things aren’t perfect for them, and that it could be worse, and often is for people in their own communities or families.

In light of this new information, maybe it’s time people let up on millennials? They’ve been handed a rough situation and told it’s their own fault, but they’re not only making the best they can in those circumstances, some of them are also managing to help others at the same time.