Put your time where your mouth is

How we spend our time matters

“I became the Dalai Lama not on a volunteer basis.” - Dalai Lama

I know the phrase usually goes, “Put your money where your mouth is.” I do believe that to be true. Taking action is something I’m very fond of. If I want to see friends I haven’t seen in awhile, I’m likely to be the one to organize a get-together. I’ll send the email, make the plans, bring people together. If there is a cause I’m passionate about, I’m going to make a donation and I’m probably going to write a post and tell people about it. Volunteer. Stay informed and stay committed to the cause.

But there is another important element that I don’t want to undercut. The importance of our time.

Last week’s letter was all about bringing people together but the flip side of that is when we’re invited, what have to show up. We have to do more than put our money where our mouth is, we have to take our time and put it where we’re passionate and where our heart is. We put our money too, the fundraiser in me would never fail to mention that! But there is so much more we can be doing.

This week I’m doing just that. As this newsletter hits inboxes, I’m up in the air on my way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for two weeks to work with Resolve Network. The founder, Vijaya, and I became friends a few years ago in New York. We met at a Kiva/microfinance happy hour and became fast friends. Vijaya was building Resolve Network from the ground up in New York but quickly realized to make substantial progress, she needed to move there. She’s been in Goma about a year and a half and due to programmatic growth and results, Resolve Network recently received a grant from UNICEF to add 2,000 microfinance partners, 30,000 beneficiaries for participatory development and 50,000 participants in their conflict resolution and dialogue program. Now what Resolve needs is a communications strategy, both with international funders, within the country, and through their online communications materials. I had joined Resolve Network as an advisor in 2012 and when Vijaya asked me to help with this next exciting phase of her organization, I had to say yes.

It’s not easy taking two weeks away from clients, projects and my family. A few years ago, a few weeks was nothing as I traveled and volunteered around the world, but now things are very different. I have a lot of commitments and time is my greatest resource.

However, I believe that if we wait to be given permission to take time to do something we want to do, it will never happen. We have to make the time. I have done this the past 5 years when I have taken an annual trip to help a nonprofit I support. From the Philippines to Ghana, Haiti and Guatemala, it’s important to me to take time and work on projects and causes that matter to me.

I strongly believe in Resolve’s mission to empower communities away from violence and conflict through economic development. I have a big agenda to accomplish over the next two weeks and I know it’s just a drop in the bucket versus what Vijaya is doing and what so many committed humanitarians do that move to the communities they want to serve. But we all can do what we can. I can’t hold my mirror up to someone else, we all are on this journey together. All I know is when I put my time where my heart is, good things happen.

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