Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stop making excuses.

I've been writing So What Can I Do for several years now and I find many people are very supportive of my efforts. There are always a few though, who are convinced I am wasting my time. These folks have so many excuses for why they don't need to become involved, be more generous, work for justice, make the world a better place. Here are the excuses I hear most often, along with a few ideas to help folks stop making excuses start making a difference.

--> Excuse: "______ organization is just a scam." Well, I'm not so naive as to think that there are no scams out there. Certainly there are. But there are many many organizations, businesses, and people who are not trying to scam you. Sometimes people use this excuse because if they believe everyone who says they are trying to make a difference is really trying to scam them, then they don't have to ever do anything. It seems to relieve them of responsibility. Well the responsibility is still there. Try these ideas to stop making this excuse:

*Solution: Use a charity rating organization like or to determine how the organizations that interest you spend money. These services help you evaluate charitable organizations, so that your donation of time and talent does the most good.
*Solution: Think globally, act locally. When you give time or money to a local organization it should be easy to see the effects. You can check up on them and see the fruits of your donation, and hopefully be inspired to give again.
*Solution: Choose local foods, goods, and services. That way you support your local economy and everyone in your area benefits.

--> Excuse: "I can't participate because I have to work on improving myself first." A few years ago, I read biographies and autobiographies of people I admired: Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Ghandi, Angela Davis, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and many others. I think I was looking for perfection. Of course, I never found it. Nobody's perfect. If we all waited until we were perfect to start making a difference nothing would ever get done. We're all flawed, but we all can serve. We can all contribute, we just have to find the ways that work best for us. Here are a few ways to get started:

Solution: Click to donate or visit a charity mall. These are fast and easy ways to contribute to the causes you believe in.
Solution: Donate blood, organs, milk, marrow, or hair. You'll make a huge difference in someone's life and you don't have to be perfect (or even near perfect) to donate.
Solution: Improve yourself. Get therapy. Take a class. Learn to read. End your addictions. Do what it takes to be the person you want to be and you'll have that much more to give to others. Just search on this site for these topics and your find more resources to help you get started.

--> Excuse: "____ may not be a scam, but it won't work." Do you have an idea to make the program work better? Then volunteer! Or choose to contribute or serve in ways in which the difference is local and/or immediate. Here are a few ideas:

Solution: Teach someone to read. It works, and you'll see a profound difference in your student's life. The literacy agency in your area has all the materials and resources you need to get started.
Solution: Fight hunger in your community. When you provide food for some who is hungry, they can tell you right away about the difference you've made. It works.
Solution: Volunteer your time. You'll see for yourself the difference you are making.

--> Excuse: "What's in this for me?" I guess we all have to be a bit self-interested, but don't let it get out of control. It helps to remember that no one can make it alone. We need help from someone, even if we pay them. So your concern and care for others can help you too. Here's are some ways to wean yourself from some of that self-interest:

Solution: Be a social entrepreneur. Many people are discovering new and exciting ways to make money and make a difference at the same time.
Solution: Make interest bearing microloans or charitable investments. Not only will you receive interest on your money, but you'll also help make the world a better place.
Solution: Sell your cell phone, reduce e-waste, and get some cash. It make sense even if you don't care about the environment or the health of the people who process electronic waste.

--> Excuse: "I'd love to help but I don't have enough time/money/etc." Even Bill Gates probably wishes he had more of something. If you don't have cash, give your possessions. If you don't have time, give money. If you don't have money, give you time and talent. You get the idea. No excuses.

Solution: Turn off the TV, save your spare change, stop junk mail and you'll have more time and money to give. Think about what's most important.
Solution: Click to donate. You don't need much time or money for that. And since you're reading this, you probably already have the internet connection you need. These have got to be the fastest, easiest, most inexpensive, way ever to make a charitable contribution.
Solution: Try socially responsible investing, and make some money so you'll have more to donate.

--> Excuse: "I'd help but I don't like working with kids/my hands/etc." No excuses folks. There are many ways you can help make a positive difference in our world. Some don't require you leave your home. You can even help without interacting with any other people. Want some ideas?

Solution: Be a virtual volunteer. You'd be amazed at the ways you can help without ever leaving your home. And you can be of service to organizations all over the world!
Solution: Write a letter to let your elected officials, media, and other know about your priorities. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and there's power in numbers!
Solution: Become an everyday philanthropist. You don't have to have a lot of money to make a big difference. In fact, those with the least money often give the most. Just give thoughtfully.

Hopefully by now, you've run out of excuses and a motivated and educated about all the ways we can improve our world. Thank you, in advance, for all you do.

"No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be." -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)


Ron Robins said...

I like your reference to socially responsible investing!

I've been following socially responsible investing for about forty years. I also have a site that many of your readers might be interested in. It covers the latest global green and socially responsible investment news and research. It's at

Good luck and best wishes, Ron Robins

Sam Davidson said...

For the last 18 months, we've been working hard to eliminate the "I dont have enough time" excuse. Check us out at CoolPeopleCare.

Thanks for showing us how to eliminate all of these other excuses!

Karama said...

Ron, Thanks so much for the link to Investing For The Soul, and for your good work on socially responsible investing. I hope you enjoyed your visit to So What Can I Do. Please come again soon!

Sam, Thank you for letting us know about Cool People Care. What a neat site! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and hope you and your readers will return again soon for more.

All the best to you both!