More than just me: The power of contribution

There is a certain joy in participating as an individual and getting involved with the greater good. As I write, in a weeks time I am due to walk 55 kilometres along the Sydney North Shore beaches to raise funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

I have been training heavily for the last 12 weeks so that I can survive an anticipated 14 hour walk along sand, continuous steps and rugged coastline.
What I will attempt to do, during this walk with my team members, is have at the very front of mind that whilst what we are doing is physically hard – what we are doing has meaning.

We will have raised funds and awareness for an incredibly good cause and will make, in some way, a small but vital contribution to the world.
We all live incredibly pressured, busy lives where time is a precious commodity. This combined with the pressure of “having it all” often means it can feel like the world is happening to us with little meaning rather than that we are creating our world with meaning and purpose.

From my own experience the satisfaction that I have felt from making a social or community contribution and how it impacts on my view of the world has been personally significant.

Now I don’t consider myself a do-gooder by any stretch of the imagination (and there are some truly inspirational people out there who are) but I do get considerable pleasure out of making a positive difference, in some way, to the world around me.

Over the years, I have donated, mentored, fundraised, volunteered time, money and gifted to help others and that experience has not only helped me grow but also at times reminded me of how fortunate I am as an individual and how I am part of a bigger, more important, picture.

Interestingly, there is another pay-off, other than to my own sense of purpose. Studies show that unconditional contribution strongly contributes to healthier relationships, higher job satisfaction and can add an additional 10 years to life expectancy. So, I guess in essence by doing good – you feel good too.

Some of my peers in the community are doing some wonderful things and are making a difference in profound ways which makes me further inspired to make a greater difference and contribute.

Jimi and Dan launched the “Live More Awesome” charity in New Zealand which is raising awareness of depression and looking at fresh, innovative ways to deal with depression each and every day. I think it is wonderful that they have brought what has been a traditionally a “taboo” subject into the open and looked at ways to connect fun social experiences such as their Biggest Water Slide, or gratitude books in schools, to a more serious theme.

Or New Zealand photographer Stuart Robertson who has started the global art project “Peace in 10,000 hands” generating awareness and dialogue around the concept of peace and how it impacts on our lives. Stuart is photographing a single white rose, an ancient symbol of peace, in the hands of 10,000 people from every country on the planet.

To date Stuart has photographed 1,000 people from nine countries and 40 nationalities and anticipates generating millions of dollars to further peace for generations to come. There are many other great examples both here and internationally where people have contributed to making a difference and giving service to others.

This concept of giving forward and making a contribution or difference has further evolved from it being a personal process into a business. There are now multitudes of online communities, organisations and social media platforms where you can generate support, funds or provide assistance.

An online global platform “Give Forward” says that their business is about creating unexpected joy throughout the world. It provides a fee-paying service where people are able to set up a gifting page and connect and engage with others both within their own social community and to a greater “global audience”

Similarly the fundraising for my Sydney Coast walk where, as part of my registration, I have access to a complete online fundraising platform where I can share my fundraising and training updates and photos raising much needed funds and awareness for the Fred Hollows Foundation. Sharing your compelling story seems as much part of the process as the contribution itself.

Every one of us has a range of knowledge, skills and experience – and each of us can make a valued contribution. Never doubt that there won’t be an organisation, individual or charity out there that will benefit greatly by someone making a contribution.

Imagine the difference we could make in our community and environment if we all committed to contributing in some way – whether it be with time, money or skillset. Not only would the accumulated effect or impact be considerable but it would give us all the opportunity to experience greater meaning, purpose and connection to the world we live in.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”. My challenge to you is to ask how can you contribute and make a difference.
What would be wonderful is if we could create an active community of people making a contribution and making a difference.

At NZIM we would love to share some of those stories so that we can inspire others. For those who do take up the challenge please contact me and let’s make a difference together. 

Fiona Hewitt is the chief executive at NZIM and comes to the role with almost 20 years in senior management and executive roles. With a strong focus on strategy, business development, marketing and relationship engagement and stakeholder management, this has supported her passion to work with, and for, organisations committed to achieving strong results. She has a deep personal interest in making a difference and finding innovative ways for organisations and people to perform to their very best. 

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