The world today can be overwhelming at times, especially to one with a so-called “bleeding heart”. There are wars and famines, droughts and oppression. But there’s also kindness and love, courage and wisdom.

All over the world there are people working to make a difference. At FineLine, we see it in our daily lives. And we know there are a lot of donors out there who would like to know how to support these people to achieve their missions.

So today starts a three part series on how to incorporate philanthropy in your daily life.

First, let’s talk about how an individual life can make a difference. Maybe you have heard about this story:

“Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean everyday. He had a habit of walking on the beach each morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “Sure made a difference to that one!”
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

This story still makes me cry.

It really does go to show you the significance that is made with just one soul in this world. Every time you decide that you want to help an animal, either by taking it for a simple walk or donating leftover dog food, that animal’s world changes. Have you sponsored a child through an organization? That has given one life the chance for a fair education where they may not have received this chance before you. Did you purchase a t-shirt from a company that plants trees with every purchase? Those trees have provided oxygen for a whole world of people and animals. And think, if you volunteer with an organization, even just a few hours a week or month, you create space for the employees to be even more productive in their daily jobs. Your smile at the homeless person you just served dinner too might shift his whole attitude. You made a difference. 

If you woke up today thinking your actions are too small, let go of that thought. You impact much more than you know. There are so many ripples to every action you make, today alone, but also with your entire life. Take it from me:

You. Make. A. Difference.

Stay tuned next week for Ideas on How to Give in your Daily Life