Over the course of your career someone will ask you to volunteer your time, talents or money for a charity the company has selected as worthy.  Often, people are pressured into participating.  This is most evident during United Way campaigns – but can also occur during Habitat for Humanity workdays, Big Brother/Big Sister mentoring events, blood drives and plenty of other well-intentioned drives.

    Here is a checklist to help you decide if you should participate:

    • You believe in the charity.  It is one you have used or someone you know has benefitted from AND it aligns to your values.
    • You want to be more generous, but haven’t found the time.  If this is convenient for you and not offensive, maybe this is the one.
    • You can afford the money, time or blood AND it will help create your personal brand as someone who is giving.

    Do  not participate if you are feeling the following:

    • The charity does not align to your personal values.
    • You already participate to the degree you can afford with other well-deserving charities of your own choosing.
    • You honestly cannot afford the time commitment or the money requested.  Better to say “No” than to let someone down later.
    • Pressure from management that requires you to participate to further your career.

    I have learned over the years that everyone has talent and that deep satisfaction comes from sharing our talents.  Some people have a talent for making money.  It must be easier for them to share their talent: they just write a check.  If that isn’t your thing, find something you can enjoy doing.  It can be as simple as being a chaperone on a school field trip.  But give back. Even when there is no recognition.  It will come back to you or someone you love somehow – and it’s always a good thing to have a surplus in the karma bank.