Although not always obvious, we are surrounded by opportunities to help those we care about. It is quite easy to overthink the sharing of a story because we have our own preconceived notions of what a need might look like. The following list is simply designed to help spark your imagination as you consider helping someone you care about.
Sometimes a story can be an emergency – like helping someone find housing. It can be helping with basic living or preventative care – like replacing tires on a vehicle or covering the cost of counseling services. A gift of kindness can go a long way, like when someone has experienced a miscarriage or loss. Providing bodywork may seem like a gift of luxury but for a single parent it make a world of difference.
- Extract the pain – Share the burden of a friend’s expensive dental procedure.
- Instead of flowers – Defray funeral costs for a neighbor’s loved one.
- Give the gift of sleep – Sponsor a weekend getaway for new parents.
- Ease the Pain – Grief Counselling for a friend in mourning.
- Help launch a Future- Pay for SAT coaching classes for a student.
- Invest in a Marriage -Professional Marital Counselling sessions for a struggling couple.
- New Job? – Professional work clothes for the first day on the job.
- Extend Hospitality – Language classes for a newly arrived refugee family.
- Celebrate a new birth – Put together a gift package of diapers, formula and toys.
- Keep the Lights on – Pay a friend’s utility bill.
- Keep communication open – Cover a friend’s phone bill for the month.
- Fan the flame – Send your married friends on a romantic date.
- Cheer on a student – Send a gift package to them in the lead up to exams.
- Growing a family – Cover the adoption costs for a couple navigating the process.
- Support Education – Buy School Supplies at the start of a new year.
- Climb on the bus – Buy a monthly bus pass to help make the commute to work.
- Patron the Arts – Extra music lessons for a friend’s child during the Summer.
- Celebrate a life – Throw a birthday party for a neighbor’s child.
- Promote Independence – Assist a teenager with driving lessons.
- Share the Burden – Help a friend with medical co-pays.
- Travel Safe – Cover annual car maintenance fees.
- Give Breathing Room – Purchase a month’s groceries.
- Sustainable Income – Help launch a new business with startup money.
- A Second Chance – Pay first three months rent for someone fresh out of prison.
- Equip and Inspire – Technical skills training for a young adult.
Here are some categories to help you think through your story: basic living/survival, education, gap grant, healthcare expenses, housing, parental support, professional expenses, self-sustaining initiative, transportation & auto expense, or utilities. These categories are how Common Change distinguishes between requests. Sometimes a request can fit multiple categories – so simply choose the most prominent.
When presenting a request or an opportunity to the group, be as detailed as you are able. Give other guests the context for your relationship with the individual, the background on the current situation, and some direction on how the group might help.
- Relationship: Establish your relationship with the individual you are advocating for. Are they a friend, family member, colleague or neighbor? How long have you known them? What is the nature of your relationship currently?
- Background: What led to the current need? Where is the individual at now and how could they use a little help? Have other avenues been exhausted? Have other relational networks been tapped into? Has the individual sought help from you or did you reach out to them?
- What’s needed: Make a tangible suggestion for how the need might be met and how the group can help. Break it down into specifics and a dollar amount.
- Invite the Wisdom of the Group: Close off by telling guests how they can help and give input. Invite their questions or suggestions. Let them know if you’re unsure about the best way to meet the need and be open to their input. Ask, “How might we…”
It is a good rule of thumb to ask your friend for permission to share their story before doing so. For example, “I’m a part of a group that seeks to pool money together to share with others that we know. I would love to bring your story to the group to see if there might be a way that we could help. I can’t guarantee that anything will come out of it but I figured I would see if you’re okay with me sharing.”