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Philanthropy Thought Leader Uncategorized

Turn off, tune in and then act


Leena Sidhu, philanthropic advisor, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

In an era of 24-hour news channels and ever-expanding social media, we are facing a world in which we know more about crises and suffering than ever before. From our own neighborhoods to far-flung regions of the world, the sheer volume of need can be overwhelming and it can be hard to know who to help and how. The key to knowing where to start is taking time to turn off—but not tune out.

Take a few minutes away from gadgets and noise and focus your energy and thoughts on which stories truly resonated with you. Was it a radio story that kept you in your car long after you arrived at your destination? Was it an email sent by a friend that caused you to shed a few tears? Was it a joyful triumph that you wish to help celebrate? What story or personal experience stops you in your tracks and moves you to act.

When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to India. My cousins took me to the village school and proudly showed me their books, supplies and playground. As a 10-year old from Atlanta, I saw old books, meager supplies and not much of a playground. A few months later, my teacher asked us to sell wrapping paper to raise money for our school. But that didn’t resonate with my heart. At my school, we already had up-to-date books, the latest supplies and a remarkable playground. I did not sell any wrapping paper that year. Instead I devoted that time to raising money from family and friends to send to my cousins’ school in India. I didn’t win any school fundraising awards that year but I felt super! I listened to my heart.

It doesn’t have to take long. You don’t need to devote hours each week to meditating on your deepest wishes for the world. But when you read a story or have an experience that won’t leave you – act. The decision has been made for you.


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