Be the change you want to see – but be realistic
No matter what we see on television or read on social media, I believe that it is human nature to be good and want to help others. It’s why we are here.
But it can be hard to help if you don’t know how to get started. Nine years ago, I certainly didn’t.
Then I heard from a Fusion Fitness Center member that the Newark Police K-9 unit needed to purchase a new dog. How cool would it be to help, I thought? Of course, I did not know how I was going to help, only that I wanted to.
Since then, Fusion and Friends have raised more than $80,000 for the Newark Police department. Our efforts have helped with the purchase of three canine officers, in addition to equipment and training for the dogs and their human partners. That’s pretty cool considering it all stemmed from a conversation in the gym with a police officer.
People often ask me how they can help with different charity events in the community. Here’s some of the advice I offer.
What are you passionate about?
Is it animals, children or feeding the homeless? I have a special connection to the K-9 department because I wanted to be a K-9 officer. I believe in what they do. When I talk about the program, ask for money or donate my time, I never feel it’s a burden on anyone because I truly believe in what I am trying to do. Make sure you feel the same way.
How much time can you actually give?
Time is precious. We all have work, family and a social life outside of charity. Make sure you are realistic with yourself and also with the organization you are helping about how much time you can honestly commit. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the mission and then quickly get burned out. That’s not good for you or the organization.
How long can you commit?
No matter how passionate they are, I believe everyone has a time limit when it comes to fundraising. Ask yourself how long you plan to commit to helping a certain organization.
I am frequently asked to sit on boards and committees for charitable organizations. As much as I don’t want to, I often have to turn down these requests. Sadly, there are too many people out there who need help and I am not always ready to tie myself down to one organization.
If you already volunteer, I recommend re-evaluating the charities you help out every two or three years to make sure you are on the same page with their current mission and fundraising goals.
If you don’t support a charity, I encourage you to change that. I have met so many one-person operations that are doing amazing things in our community. They just need more volunteers and fundraising to keep their missions alive. I suggest contacting Delaware Community Foundation or the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA) for some ideas.
One of the most exciting things about fundraising and charity is you never know what is coming next.
Over the summer, I partnered with Deb Buenaga, founder of Preston’s March for Energy, on the Inclusion Means Everyone 5K, a walk/run that took place just as its name suggests. Our overwhelming success with this inaugural event convinced us to hold another race, this time on Oct. 11 at the Christiana Mall. (For more information, visit www.inclusionmeanseveryone.com.)
The two of us were at coffee a few weeks ago to plan for this next event. We started thinking about where the money from the race would go this time.
The idea struck us like a bolt of lightning. We would use the race as the kickoff to our efforts to build an inclusive playground in Newark that could be used by all kids.
And with that, I was on to the next adventure.
Nic DeCaire owns Fusion Fitness in Newark and is a member of the DBT40 Class of 2014