Are you approaching the Big 50, 60 or 70? You might feel healthy and energetic but the “R” word (retirement) is still around the corner. There are many stereotypes of retirement––the three “Gs” of golf, gardening and grandkids––but for most Baby Boomers and Generation Xers those activities will likely feel a bit empty. For the generations traditionally concerned with civil rights, poverty, hunger, the environment, climate change, education, immigration and health, income and gender equality, retirement will likely have to include socially conscious activities. Few want their retirement “giving” to be limited to greeting people at the senior center.
But how do you “give”? How do you navigate the complex and complicated world of charity and volunteering from hands-on tutoring, working at food pantries and overseas “voluntourism” to working with existing non-profit organizations (NGOs) and service clubs in your community like the Lions or Rotary?
If you have professional skills, how do you locate charitable groups that put your exact expertise to use? If you have resources, how do you identify worthy charities for donation and take advantage of the newer financial models like crowdfunding, microfinance programs, philanthro-capitalism, and social entrepreneurship?
And, of importance for both volunteers and donors, how do you review the 990 Forms submitted by charities to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and judge private foundations?
Certainly helping fellow humans whether through religious groups or out of social consciousness is the foundation of a spiritual life and enriched retirement. But finding your true passion and the ideal outlets for them is a conundrum that this valuable book astutely addresses. Nor does “giving” have to mean joining existing groups. Golden Giving gives solid, practical advice about starting your own charity and how to succeed at the all-important but dreaded function of fundraising.
Fundraising is all about trust and relationship building with some luck writes principal author Vasudevan Rajaram. The key factors to build trust are conveying to the would-be donor 1) commitment to the mission 2) transparency in finances 3) ethical conduct and 4) knowledge of inner workings of the organization.
Anyone who reads this book will be amazed at the breadth and specificity of giving opportunities beyond the well-known charitable groups that most people recognize. For example, who has heard of Bamboo–a Uganda based grassroots program in which volunteers mentor teens in rural communities on drug abuse, sexual education and general health? Who has heard of Urban Light, a group that specializes in male victims of trafficking––part of other anti-human trafficking groups listed in Golden Giving.
Many might not have heard of Engineers Without Borders and Engineers Without Borders International who work closely with local stakeholders in poor communities in providing water, sanitation, health, education and energy and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which operates in 140 countries. In the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois, the Citizens Advocacy Committee helps communities achieve self-determination through providing technical assistance, legal assistance, civic education and mentorship to youth and adults. Those with artistic skills can also give by playing an instrument or singing in local choirs or band or volunteering in their offices says the book.
Many looking at retirement in a few years will appreciate the detailed advice about maintaining financial health, negotiating taxes, Social Security and Medicare and achieving maximum physical health through stress reduction and good nutrition.
More than half of Americans now retire between 61 and 65 and almost 20 percent earlier than that. This book can be an asset to enriching the decades ahead.
About the Author:
Dr. Rajaram is a geotechnical and environmental engineer with a four-decade history of working on environmentally conscious underground construction, hazardous waste management, wastewater treatment and recycling and municipal solid waste management. His charitable giving includes the Greater Chicago Food Depository in Chicago, tutor/mentoring in Chicago and supporting an education non-profit in India, the country of his birth.
Golden Giving – Everything You Need to Know for an Enriched, Socially Conscious Retirement. by Vasudevan Rajaram (Author), Keith Olson (Contributor), Andrea Groner (Contributor) Paperback, 218 pages.
Martha Rosenberg is author of the award-cited food exposé “Born With a Junk Food Deficiency,” distributed by Random House. A nationally known muckraker, she has lectured at the university and medical school level and appeared on radio and television.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.