Pay It Forward! The Retirement Benefits of Philanthropy

There are many advantages to a financially secure retirement. You can do what you want, when you want: moving closer to your grandkids, visiting exotic locations you’ve only dreamed about, and more. And you can also give back, making an impact on the causes that matter most to you. Giving back creates the kind of purpose people often find themselves missing in retirement, and for many of us, that sense of purpose isn’t optional; it’s essential.

Maybe you’ve always had a purpose—something as clear and true and tangible as your own pulse thrumming beneath your fingers. Or maybe, without the things you’ve been dedicated to for so long—a job, your kids, a spouse—you need a little help finding what moves you. If so, you’re not alone. And fortunately, identifying where your passions lie is as easy as asking yourself a few simple questions: 

What breaks your heart when you see it? Is it people living on the street, orphans, starving or sick children, abused women, abandoned animals, polluted beaches? When you identify the issues that create that familiar ache in your chest, you can start to do something to address them.

 What makes you feel good? Of course, there’s more than one way to go about making a difference. What feels good to you? Do you find power in writing a big check, or would you rather spend an afternoon reading to a child, building a house for a homeless family, or enjoying a meal with an elderly neighbor? Asking this question and considering your answers can give you direction as to where to invest your time and energy. 

What would make the biggest difference? Think about how you can make an impact. What does the cause, organization, or individual you’re looking to help actually need? Is it money for new equipment to outfit a health clinic, individuals to help tutor children in an afterschool program, or perhaps your expertise—entrepreneurial insights or accounting knowledge, for example, that can help an organization meet operational goals or better fulfill its own purpose? With this in mind, consider how you can provide support in a manner that will be satisfying to you, and useful for them. When it comes to service, that’s the sweet spot. 

Set some time aside to really think about these questions. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to homing in on your purpose and making the world a better place, which is a priceless gift for everyone involved. For more on achieving a purpose-driven retirement, click here and check out my book, You’re Retired… Now What?