Recently, my Facebook feed has been inundated with content and videos from Upworthy, and I watch some of them. For the most part, I realize that these are a time suck. Maybe I get a bit of good news or get outraged over an injustice, but on the whole were they really worth my time? Probably not.
Today was different though. Today I saw a video that inspired me to actually go out and do something. The video was for the Urban Innovation Exchange that started in Detroit, and discussed a SOUP project they do. People come in, pay $5 for a bowl of soup, salad, and a vote. Individuals from different projects come to the event to talk about their project/organization, and whoever gets the most votes at the end of the evening gets the funds raised from the event.
That started me thinking (always a dangerous idea, I know!). After my Random Acts of Kindness 2013 , I received great feedback about how this inspired other people. Some people did a 12 Days of Christmas theme, others just went out and did nice things for people, and others said that they wished they could do something like that but time/money/resources was an issue. So, how could I make giving back to the community part of things that they already do? How could you put your own spin on this Urban Innovation Exchange and SOUP project?
I used to be part of a poker game when I lived in Chicago. Each person would buy into a Texas Hold ‘Em tournament for a whopping $5 per tournament (some nights the first one ended early enough there was time for a second…or we’d had enough to drink and enough fun that we just weren’t ready to stop), and whoever won the tournament usually donated the money for food. Yes, that’s right, no one ever really left with a dime, just the joy of winning (and I do so enjoy winning). We showed up because it was fun, and we liked playing. (even if occasionally an individual would bet to make all their piles of chips even)
The SOUP event got me thinking about how a night like that could be turned into a mini-fundraiser. The winner of the tournament got to pick the charity to receive the evenings winnings. It seemed like a revelation to me, because somewhere along the line I forgot (even after the Random Acts of Kindness 2013) that giving back didn’t have to mean big bucks, supporting causes you believe in doesn’t have to feel like work, and that a lot of people worry that they don’t have enough time or enough money to make a difference.
I may have mentioned that I hang out with some really amazing people. (Seriously though, why would you spend time with people who weren’t?) I host a lot parties (in some form or fashion) at my house, and I almost always cook for the get together (because I just love cooking). I always get questions like: “How can I help?” “What can I bring?” “Do you need anything?” I’m willing to bet that next time if I tell them they an bring a can of food, $5, a personal hygiene item, a get well card, a letter for military personnel stationed overseas, or even an hour of their time to donate to a good cause they’d do it in a heartbeat.
Maybe you don’t play poker or host dinner parties. So what? You can use this for movie nights, game nights, book clubs, quilting circles…whatever you do for fun. Seriously, I would love to see a group of people who get together for like a Halo night write thank you letters to military personnel…how cool would that be? Too bad I suck at Halo…any takers? Maybe you’re planning a Sherlock watch party, and you have everybody bring stuff to make a package for a member of the homeless “network” or a Doctor Who party where everybody brings something for either mental health services (because he’s a mad man with a box) or for a children’s charity (because he can’t just sit there and watch children cry)….oh crud, here I go with theme parties again. Can you see the possibilities?
So how do you know where to donate in your community? Well, excellent question. Although, I only looked briefly, when I did a search for “Tulsa Non-Profit Organizations” the first link that came up was a website Great Non-Profits that you can use to search either by city/state or by area of interest. People can leave reviews and share experiences with different organizations too, which I love. I haven’t actually dug in to ensure that every non-profit is on the up and up, but I do know that the ones I skimmed through for the Tulsa area were well-known, reputable organizations.
Need more ideas? Send me what you and your friends do for fun, and I’ll come up with something!
‘Til next time,