By Kate Atwood

Last month I challenged you to look at philanthropy in a different way. I introduced a new perspective around using, not just your fortunes, but looking at your misfortunes as well. I strongly believe that if you want to build giving into your lifestyle, it’s best to look at ways that work for you, too. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, it is charity after all, however I believe it’s key. Make it mean something for you.

Here is another way to do just that: look at philanthropy as an outlet to learn something new. Often we seek out volunteer opportunities that use our talents and skills we already have refined or mastered. This makes sense because we are trying to help others. However, what if rather than signing up for projects using skills you already had, you chose to give back to learn something new or practice to get better?  Ultimately you benefit twice as much, by helping yourself and helping someone else.

Take these examples:

  • Sharpen your carpentry skills: Sign up to volunteer and help build a house for Habitat for Humanity (
  • Learn more about gardening: Help plant a community garden with Atlanta’s Park Pride’s Community Garden (
  • Refine your cooking skills: Join the best chefs in town by signing up for a Simple Abundance class where all the proceeds benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank (
  • Get in better shape: Sign up for Boot Camp for A Cause ( where proceeds from your participation go to various causes throughout the year.

These days, there are many way to give back that involves a skill you want to practice or improve upon, that also impacts our community. Looking at the list of those things you want to learn this year, see if any of them allow you give back too. It’s a Living by Giving win-win.

For more about Kate Atwood, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.