Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do what?

I was trying to think of what to write about today and doing searches on Google and finding all kinds of things that I already knew about.

Then I came across an idea which I have never tried. I LOVE doing that. On my website and in my blogs, I’ve written about free ways to help others, fun ways to help others, cyber-volunteering, virtual mentoring, donating, volunteering, random acts of kindness and paying it forward.

I have never written about becoming a “professional volunteer” also known as a docent. Now, although I haven’t done it myself, I’ve met people who are docents at my local zoo and at museums around the U.S.

I’m calling docents “professional volunteers” because they train so they can become like a professional. A docent is someone who has been trained by the organization that they volunteer for to take the place of a paid employee. Like most volunteers, they do the work that needs to be done for free, but usually docents have to make a time commitment that a lot of volunteers don’t.

The next time you’re at a museum and are taking a tour, you might be taking it with a docent. I have certainly done this at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida which is filled with docents.

You might be wondering who can become a docent. Well, to be honest, most of the docents I’ve met have been retirees. For the time commitment it takes to become a docent, you need the unfettered time that retirees have.

I recently posted to my Facebook page a quote from Paulo Coelho (yes, I’d never heard of him before but I like this quote so I hope he’s not an ax murderer).

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. DO IT NOW.”

I want to do those things. They can be little and easy, like hugging your son every day.

Or a bit bigger. Maybe for you one of those things is to learn about airplanes, or feed a rhinoceros, or talk about great works of art.

As a docent, you can do those things, FOR FREE! You just sign up with a zoo, museum or other foundation that does those things and say you will commit to them a certain number of hours and they will commit to teach you.

Docent is just a funny word for volunteer and you all know how great volunteering is. The more you do it, the better you feel. So, God Bless and go for it!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Billionaire Dreams

Have you heard of Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg? Chances are, you have. They are some of the richest people in the world.

Now, have you heard of “The Giving Pledge campaign?” It’s a campaign by Buffet and Gates to recruit billionaires to agree to donate at least half their fortunes to charity.

People are keeping track of these generous billionaires. The "Philanthropy 50″ list is issued annually by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The 2014 list is the 14th annual list of the 50 most generous donors in America in 2013. Something surprising about these giving people is their mean age, the median age of the top 50 donors in 2013 was 72.5.

Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg and Pricilla Chan made new donations or pledges that total nearly $1 billion in 2013. Zuckerberg is the youngest ever billionaire on the top 50 donors list. Unfortunately, Zuckerberg is the exception when it comes to young billionaires. His peers are choosing, at least so far, to keep their money.

Following are the 10 most generous Americans in 2013 and how much they donated or pledged to charitable causes:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – $992.2 million
  2. George Mitchell – $750 million (bequest; passed away in Jul 2013)
  3. Philip and Penelope Knight – $500 million
  4. Michael Bloomberg– $452 million
  5. John and Laura Arnold   – $296.2 million
  6. Charles Johnson – $250 million
  7. Pierre and Pam Omidyar – $225 million
  8. Irwin and Joan Jacobs – $221.1 million
  9. Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki – $219 million
  10. Jeffrey Carlton  – $212 million (bequest; passed away in 2012)

The donors on the Top 50 list represented 17 U.S states and Washington D.C.

Giving away half your fortune may seem too far away for most of us to dream about, but for many of us giving of ourselves in volunteering and charitable donations can give us just the same feeling of hope and generosity as those billionaires get.

I truly believe (and studies have shown it) that giving makes you feel better. So, the next time you give to that guy down the hallway at work running a 5K for charity, realize you’re doing your part.

You may not be a billionaire but all our dollars add up to billions and they make a difference. You do have something in common with the billionaires on the lists above—you both try to make a difference in the world through charity. God Bless!