Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Despite the best efforts of marketers, Thanksgiving is still focused on celebrating family, friends, neighborhood and community. It’s also the start of the holiday season, a good time for introspection on how to give back.

I thought about people giving back while attending the Encore.org summit in Los Angeles earlier in the week. Encore.org is a social enterprise founded by entrepreneur Marc Freedman that encourages people in the second half of life to take their skills and experience to help tackle society’s most pressing problems.

The overarching idea motivating the gathering was brainstorming ways to promote intergenerational relations, the message of Freedman’s latest book: “How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations.” Freedman and Encore.org have launched an ambitious national initiative to promote stronger connections.

“An extensive body of research on purpose, generativity, relationship, and face-to-face contact makes it plain: engagement with others that flows down the generational chain will make you healthier, happier, and likely longer-lived,” writes Freedman. “Likewise, when we think of what younger people need, the answer looks a lot like the assets of the older generation, today and into the future.”

Freedman is spot on. We need more civic engagement and intergenerational conversation, recognizing the common bonds and mutual opportunities that come from nurturing relations between the generations. That said, perhaps you’re moved to take a different approach or focus. There is no shortage of ills to be addressed. Whatever moves or motivates you, another critical takeaway from the conference was the importance of researching your options and creating a plan.

A theme of this column is that marrying meaning and money is not only a good way to live but it also is a savvy approach to managing money well over a lifetime. Take the common desire to make a difference at the core of personal finance decisions. One path forward is to start by asking basic questions: Where can I make a difference? What is my purpose? Who needs my help? As part of your quest, research charitable organizations by tapping into resources such as Charity Navigator. I’d also reach out to people who have launched encore careers. What can you learn from their experience. The quest will help you be more mindful with your giving. It will also bring your closer to living with purpose and a paycheck.

 

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor, “Marketplace,” commentator, Minnesota Public Radio.