I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhat like Rip Van Winkle, I think I nodded off for most of the year and woke up in the wonderland of glowing Christmas crèches and merry music filling the air with good cheer.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the season when many of us feel motivated to take stock of our world and dream about what we can do to make it better. For many, this vision of a better tomorrow means connecting with like-minded benefactors and finding ways to invest in the lives of others, giving to meet needs and serving to provide inspiration.

Like no other time, opportunities abound. Excitingly, research—such as that published by the Chronicle of Philanthropy—indicates that there is a “big boom in online giving” for charities and non-profits. In fact, in recent years, double-digit gains have been recorded in the percentage of online giving. Increasingly, the young and young at heart are using their bandwidth and bank accounts to explore and empower causes that have proven track records for benefiting humanity.

So, where might one turn to look more closely into online altruism?

Bricks, mortar and more. Many of the places that you already love and support have ways for you to engage online. Whether it’s finding ways to volunteer, locating a needs list or finding ways to meet financial shortfalls, it behooves modern-minded non-profits and charities to give us an easily navigable online giving process. If you already have a charity that you passionately support, explore their online presence and see if you might find a special way to engage at this crucial time of year. They need it!

Out of the box options. Exciting ways to connect and give seem to be emerging by the day. If you have a cause—or even if you don’t—you’ll be able to find an online need that connects with your values, your vision and your voice.

Fundly.com, for example, provides one of the most successful online social fundraising platforms available. Fundly has helped connect over 10,000 organizations and their needs with millions of social philanthropists who’ve collaborated to raise over $330 million. With a well-crafted online and mobile presence, Fundly allows just about anyone to “tell their story and connect with donors.”

Rally.org is another online option for exploring non-traditional ways to support needs and causes that resonate with your interests, goals and vision. Rally encourages their users to “create their page, share their story and raise money.”

But, does all of this online action make a difference?

Dana Klisanin, Ph.D., is a psychologist who has made researching “digital altruism” a key component of her career. In a recent interview with the American Psychological Association, Klisanin explored the fascinating upswing of “cyberheroes” and “collaborative heroism.” Her research indicates that the pejorative idea of “slacktivists” lazily engaging online is actually not supported by the data. Rather, Klisanin notes that “research has found that people who take action online are up to five times more likely to take action offline and to recruit other people to take action.”

So, as this year winds down and as you explore the many needs of our community, state, country and world, consider going online and finding a way to be a blessing to a non-profit, a charity or an individual who has a compelling need and captivating story. It’s very possible that you’ll be the person who not only changes a life, but also empowers others to join you in changing a destiny.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a very happy New Year to you and your family!


Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.


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