What would a leader give?

This holiday season I challenge you to give gifts like a leader.

What type of gifts do leaders give? To me, a leader is someone who proactively helps other people; to give like a leader think about how some of the gifts you give can be used to help those in need.

Below are a few ideas. Some of them require no money at all and enable you to help people locally and globally!

Shopping spree for the less fortunate

Cost: $1+

Who you’re helping: your local community.

Block off an afternoon to run around to toy stores, clothing stores, and grocery stores so that you can stock up on goods that will benefit people who really need them. Once all of the cute toys, warm clothing, and non-perishable goods have been collected donate them to Toys for Tots, local homeless or women’s shelters, and local food pantries. This way the less fortunate will receive gifts, fill their bellies, and stay a bit warmer during the holidays.

Protip: To really understand the impact you’re having, imagine the reactions that children, hungry families, and the homeless will have as they enjoy your gifts.


Donate to a charity that your believe in

Cost:  $1+

Who you’re helping: depending on the charity, people locally, people nationally, or people internationally.

Take a bit of time to find an organization that you truly believe in, and make a donation. There are literally thousands of great organizations. Here are a few of my favorites:

Protip: in the day-in-age of the internet based giving, donating to charities can feel impersonal. We enter our credit card information, click donate, and look for the email confirmation. When the process of helping others becomes rote, part of the magic goes away. You can reconnect to the magic by reading about where your money is going, how it will be used, and then imagining the impact that you’ll be having on specific individuals.


Cost: $0 – only your time.

Who you’re helping: usually people in your local community, though you can volunteer anywhere.

Find an organization that you truly believe in and donate some of your time. If you’re interested in tips on how to do find organizations and opportunities, click here.

Protip: you’ll notice that when you volunteer, you feel more alive and energetic. Enhance your happiness and your impact by making volunteering part of your monthly routine. If you want to socialize while volunteering bring a friend or family member.

Give a microloan

Cost: $25+

Who you’re helping: up to you – you can grant a microloan to people in America, people in Vietnam, and everywhere in between.

Traditionally, microloans are granted to poor people in the developing world and are used to help them start businesses which will lift the entrepreneur (and often their families, and eventually their communities) out of poverty. Today you can give microloans to people all around the world.

Personally, I like to use kiva.org.

Protip: once your loan is returned invest it in another project. You will never get more bang for your buck than continuing to reinvest your microloan in new and exciting projects.

You’ll notice that as you get good at giving gifts that help other people you’re also creating a mirror effect – you’ll also start feeling better about yourself because you’re disconnecting from the material world and reconnecting to the human world. Now that’s a good holiday gift!

Bonus tip!

Enduring leaders know that in order to lead at their highest level they have to take care of themselves. As you’re getting gifts for others, be sure to get something nice for yourself too. Personally, I’m setting aside a week in 2012 to learn how to surf and completely disconnect from technology.

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