“The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” ~ Albert Einstein

The 2012 holiday season is complete…

The distinct sound of the Salvation Army bells have ceased to toll through the cool air…

And, shopping for a prime parking space at the mall was…well…like something out of an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

With all of the hustling around this holiday season, the challenge became not only finding that right present for the right person…at the last moment. It came down to making a good, quality decision.

As we pondered that last-minute purchase, it was indeed very easy to lose sight of the other challenges of the season. The challenges I’m speaking about is not about the color of the sweater, the smell of the cologne, the style of earring or the brand name of the handbag. It’s the challenge to open our eyes and recognize that there are those around us that are less fortunate.

There are many in our respective communities that had literally no money to spend on gifts this past holiday season….much less, feed their own family a decent meal.

There are those of us that will turn a blind eye to this fact…choosing to ignore.

Cologne or handbag…sweater or earring. Hmmm…

We spent our hard-earned paychecks to make a purchase…ironically, with a gift card receipt just in case.

What if this coming year, you gave the gift of time?

I know what you’re thinking.

“Time is the one thing I don’t have enough of already.”

I see it from a different perspective. If you gave the gift of time, all sales are final…there are no gift receipts. So, as you look at your maxed-out credit card bill from this past holiday season, I sincerely ask you to consider another option in 2013.

I challenge you to not ignore. I challenge you…

To volunteer at a community food line.

To volunteer at a local pet rescue.

To volunteer at a hometown youth center.

To volunteer at a local hospice.

To volunteer you…and give back to your community in any way you can.

There are those of you that might ask, “What is in it for me?”

Well…first and foremost, you will undoubtedly discover a philanthropy in which you can identify with on a consistent basis throughout the year. And, your community will recognize you for giving back. Your clients will recognize your ability to connect with their same benevolent mindset.

“Sales” is a funny thing. I have long said that selling without selling is the best way to increase your bottom line. Connecting with your constituents on a philanthropic level will allow you to relate to your community and gain more attention without having to stress over how to sell.

The key, however, is to get involved in an organization that you truly believe in. If you get involved just to get attention…you’ll be spotted a mile away. Give of yourself…give your time, because you genuinely identify with the cause.

It is a door-opener… an attention-getter…and, a conversation-maker.

So, for those of you that are a bit skittish in sales, volunteering allows you to communicate about an important, personal cause…alleviating the stress of having to always “sell.” It permits you to tell a story of giving back…a story about an important philanthropy…and, a story about your community.

It allows you to relate and connect. And, when you connect…the conversation becomes that much easier.

There are many, many more areas you can offer your time…I just challenge you to find a place to give that time. Because, in the end…your time is what is needed most.

Give the gift of you this year.

Volunteer because you care.

Volunteer because you can.