One of the most common questions I get when I discuss my charitable efforts with other people is “How much difference can one person make?”
Invariably the first answer that pops to mind is “Absolutely none, unless they try.”
However, I seldom voice that one, unless it is clear the person asking was doing so with the intent of belittling the work instead of attempting to truly learn how to help.
In many instances I talk about the efforts that I am involved with through our local Lion’s Club chapter and the local, national, and international differences that can makes in the lives of the many people we help in a variety of ways.
In other instances I talk about the more specific efforts I undertake with the Personal Energy Transport (PET) Project to improve the quality of life for people unable to walk all over the world.
Both of the above are subjects I’ve discussed on this page before, so I’ll spare you the repeated information other than the links provided.
We all understand that we can donate money to a variety of charities and a small donation form a single person can make a huge difference. While your cash donation to an animal shelter may not build a new section or save a species, it could easily prevent an animal from being euthanized and instead adopted. A small donation can what prevents a a family in an underdeveloped country from deciding which members of their family get to eat and which have to starve. It can provide fresh water for a day or more to a small village. It can clothe a baby. Helping contribute to the funds needed to cure a disease. It can help pay for a PTSD support animal or a new prosthetic limb for a wounded veteran. It can do so much more.
We can also donate time instead of money, by feeding people in need at a shelter, working to build homes for the homeless, delivering meals to the elderly, volunteering tutoring services at underprivileged schools, volunteering time at long term elderly care facilities just to give people company and attention they wouldn’t other receive, volunteering with youth activity programs designed to help prevent kids from joining gangs. Again the opportunities for donating time are endless.
So the question isn’t how much can one person do. Every one of us is capable of helping improve the quality of life for at least one day for at least one other person – every single day.
So the real questions are simply:
“How many people do you need to help, how many lives do you need to save, to feel like you’ve made a difference?”
“What are you willing to give or do to accomplish that?”
With that in mind, I’d like to bring another option to the table. A remarkably simple option.
The folks at Charity Miles #charitymiles have created a free app for your smartphone that allows you to help others simply by helping yourself.
They have partnered with companies like Humana, Johnson & Johnson, and Chobani to accomplish this.
If you are willing to walk, run, or bike even a single mile a day to help yourself get more active and healthy, these patterned organizations will sponsor your efforts and make a donation on your behalf to one of 40 different charities, you select which each time you start the app, and more options seem to be being added fairly regularly.
There is no set criteria for how far you have to go each time, or how quickly it must be done.
So if you’re willing to get out and move for 20 – 30 minutes a day you can make a significant difference.
They will donate $0.25 per mile for running or walking, or $0.10 for biking a mile.
So if you select one specific charity, and walk a single 20- 30 minute mile, five days a week, these companies would donate $1.25/week to your selected charity. That’s $65.00 a year. Clearly if you’re already walking, running, or biking for regular exercise you could easily accomplish more and be responsible for generating more for your chosen charities. But let’s stick with that minimum for a second.
Last year the folks at eMarketer estimated there were over 190 million smartphones in use in the United States. If even half of those owners walked the 1 mile minimum mentioned above for 4 days a week using this app it could generate over $2.3 Trillion annually for these charitable organizations.
Are you willing to have someone sponsor your efforts to get more healthy and active, or even to just stay that way, through donations to the charity of your choice?
I am. I split up my efforts by rotating through the charities I want to support, and I cover about 25-50 miles at a fast walk or slow jog each week doing so.
If you want to double up your influence, you could volunteer to walk dogs for the local shelter, take an elderly wheelchair bound resident for a walk around their community center, or work on community cleanup of local parks, as you walk.
How much difference can one person make? As much as they are willing to make.
Every little bit matters. Any little bit matters.