Philanthropy is when a person gives his or her time, talent, or treasure intending to benefit the common good. There are formal and informal acts of philanthropy, which means we can either help others through a nonprofit organization or we can do kind acts of generosity on our own. The types of philanthropic acts can be separated into four categories: 1) relief of need and suffering; 2) improvement of lives and communities; 3) reform of society; and 4) civic engagement. Volunteering is a part of philanthropy where you give your time or talent freely by offering to do something that is intended to promote good or improve quality of life for humans and/or animals.

There are many ways to volunteer but the most popular areas of civic engagement are: working with animals; mentoring; conservation and gardening; supporting a cause by campaigning; and working on health projects and in hospitals. These are all examples of volunteering your time to help others. Donating money and property is a way of giving back with things you treasure. Another form of helping others is micro-volunteering. This is done on the internet and can be completed in small increments of time. For example, by playing a game on www.freerice.com you are provided education on the hunger crisis and you help end world hunger by providing free rice to the hungry.

Service learning is a teaching method where learning objectives are deepened through service to others in a process that provides time for reflection and demonstration of the skills and knowledge acquired. The six steps of service learning are: 1) Investigate 2) Prepare 3) Act 4) Reflect 5) Demonstrate and celebrate and 6) Sustain. Researchers have found that students who are engaged in service learning versus their peers tend to have higher grades and better academic performance. In fact, students who participate in service-learning activities in high school are 22% more likely to graduate from a four year college. Many people believe reflection is one of the more important steps because it increases the likelihood that you would apply what you learned to real life. Reflection helps volunteers to better understand how they feel and what they’ve learned from the service experiences. You can reflect by: journaling, blogging, discussing, role playing or creating artwork. If you want to blog as a means of reflection, you can blog directly from your GivingPoint student account.
Here are some basic questions to help you reflect about your service experiences:

  • Where did you serve and for how long?
  • What talents or resources of your own did you use?
  • How did the effort or work make a difference in the bigger picture of this issue? Neighborhood? City? State? World?
  • List the things you learned?

Sources:
www.servicelearning.org
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/index.html

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