How You Can Pay It Forward
“Who am I? What is the purpose of my life beyond living for myself and accumulating wealth for me and my family?” Do you find yourself asking yourself these questions? I certainly do. And I’ve found the answer in philanthropy.
There’s a reason the universe bestows us with whatever we have — ability, talent, resources, success, the agency to grow to greater heights with each passing year. And that reason is to give back in equal measure. In fact, the more you have in life, the more you should give back — nature has willed it that way.
A life lived for only yourself is a selfish one. There is a certain joy in helping those less privileged than you, spreading joy, and showing you care for the community and the planet. And doing all of this without any expectations. In simple terms, this willingness and desire to help others is called philanthropy.
Giving back is not something I do to tick a box. It’s non-negotiable for me, having grown up in a humble middle-class family in India where the philosophy of giving back is deeply entrenched in the way of life. I believe everyone can and must give back — in whatever way they can.
When I visited India in 2015 from the US after having seen financial success with my health care technology company Edifecs, it was natural for me to start by giving back to my home state, Punjab. I have a vision for Punjab — to make it a healthier, happier state. So, I started the RoundGlass Foundation, which runs various social and environmental initiatives in the villages there. I have also invested in social initiatives in the field of sports and sustainability — RoundGlass Sports and RoundGlass Sustain.
Recently, I joined GivingPi, a philanthropy network committed to collectively solving India's development challenges. I am familiar with economic struggles, the huge inequalities that exist in society, and the lack of access to even basic health care and livelihood — and I believe in the power of philanthropy in removing these inequalities and transforming lives.
But philanthropy today is not just about a few rich individuals pledging money to good causes. It has evolved way beyond that. It’s about finding a cause to believe in, to fight for, to contribute to — however you can — and being personally involved in coming up with solutions for the wellbeing of the community, society, and planet.
More Ways to Give Back Than One
Despite all the bad news that floods our social and news feeds, it is always heartening to know that people across the world, across social levels are always ready to help those in need. According to the Giving USA report, individuals, foundations, estates, and corporations gave more to charity in 2021 than before the pandemic. Giving in the U.S. totaled a near-record $485 billion in 2021. It is especially heartening to see the younger generation also stepping up to help — three out of four millennials donated money during the pandemic.
Here are some ways in which you can help others, apart from contributing financially:
Use Your Talent
There is no age, gender, or financial restriction on paying it forward. You can use what you have, your own skill set or business network to start making a change. Even if you have no money to donate or time to personally volunteer, you can use your social media channels to help generate awareness or resources about a cause. You could help build a website for crowdfunding donations, drum up support for a cause, or help build a stronger communication network for nonprofits that need a voice.
Give Your Time
There is nothing better than volunteering to help a non-profit or charity organization. Here are some things you can do: Spend time with underprivileged kids or elders, help them learn reading or writing, curate resources for children’s education, teach them a sport, or just counsel kids about life and career choices. If you bond with animals, take care of strays by feeding them and taking them to the vet; take time out to feed or groom animals or help with cleaning at a pet shelter. You can even sign up for a local cause like planting trees, keeping the streets clean, or helping organize books at the local library. It’s all about being there. Your time is the most valuable asset you can give.
Live a Life of Wholistic Wellbeing
Embracing a life of wholistic wellbeing across dimensions — physical, mental, spiritual, financial, professional, social, community, and planetary — will help you not just live from joy as an individual, but also contribute to the collective wellbeing of humanity.
Incorporate the ingredients of wholistic wellbeing into your daily life. To start with, ask yourself, “Who am I”? Are you someone who lives just for yourself or believes in living for others as well? This is the beginning of your journey of philanthropy.
Wholistic wellbeing requires you to live in the now — this means being mindful of not just your personal needs but also the wellbeing of your community and of the planet, including eating, traveling, and living sustainably. It necessitates you to be humble and have authentic conversations, thereby helping build meaningful relationships with your social tribe and enhancing the social wellbeing of those around you.
It also urges you to celebrate life, enhancing joy and happiness in your own and extended circles. Last but not least, it teaches you to be in service of people, the community, the planet — extended dimensions of our existence without life would be meaningless and even impossible.
Learn to give with your heart. Philanthropy is more than just a moral obligation — it is our way of repaying kindness to the life bestowed on us.