by Ellen Winiarczyk, academic director of Nonprofit Leadership program
This year as we celebrate Colorado Gives Day on December 7, 2021 I am reminded of how my life, and all of our lives, have evolved over the past year. In 2020, those of us who had the gift of continuing work full-time were grateful if we had 1-2 of these items in our life: a job, food, shelter, family, and health. As an educator, I was grateful to be able to help my students negotiate the difficulties they were encountering whether due to COVID-19 illness or isolation, or through racial awakening and upheaval. Times were difficult. Giving through volunteering, or financially, in 2020 was essential to ensuring that as a community we survived. And people gave robustly in 2020 as the GIVING USA data has told us.
In 2021, we need to continue to give for heart reasons! First, giving really is healthy! When we give research tells us that we have better mental and physical health including lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, lower stress, and greater happiness (Cleveland Clinic 2020).
Second, it’s important to feel that we are a part of something bigger than us! In a world of self- centered apps (e.g., TiKTok, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) it is important to emphasize others and keep our own narcissim at bay. To be a part of something bigger than oneself reminds us that we are a mere drop of water in a much bigger world. But when we give we keep connected to community causes that are important links to us keeping us grounded in that community where we can make a difference. .
Third, when we give together with others, as a society our heart beats as one putting our pride in giving financially to causes that we believe are important. We aggregate our giving making a BIG DENT in the financial future of the organizations we love. Our action is a gift of love and collectively this action of love is healthy not just for us, but for the organizations and our greater community.
It is important to stay heart healthy in this continuing year of uncertainty. So give robustly to the organizations you love for your heart health and the health of our community.
Are you interested in making a difference? Check out our Nonprofit Leadership graduate program!