Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa all left an indelible mark on humanity, but you don’t have to spend your days doing good deeds to make a difference in the world.
There are seven billion people on this planet. What if more of us gave back, even in small ways? The effect of those billions of small gestures would be astronomical.
Did you know that in the United States, the majority of money donated to various causes is provided in tiny sums by persons from lower socioeconomic groups? As a result, those are the charities that raise the most money and have the greatest impact on those in our community.
These are the folks who recognize that giving is the most valuable gift, even if they appear to have nothing to contribute.
Sure, the wealthy donate significant sums, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t what has the greatest good impact. According to talkaboutgiving.org, someone earning less than $20,000 per year gives twice as much as someone earning $100,000 per year.
Furthermore, just 25% of all philanthropic donations is contributed by the wealthiest 10% of Americans.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING BACK
When we give back, we generate a ripple effect that extends far beyond those we assist, even when we believe we have nothing to contribute. We’re functioning from a place of abundance, convincing ourselves and others that our generosity will be rewarded and that we’ll be taken care of.
Rather than fretting about what’s in it for ourselves, we’re grateful for the life we’ve been given and the opportunity to help others who are less fortunate. Small gestures can have a big influence and inspire people to be nicer, more forgiving, and more eager to lend a hand.
HOW GIVING BACK BENEFITS YOU
We want our lives to have meaning. Giving back and learning how to make a difference in the lives of others gives life purpose because it makes life about something bigger than ourselves. It satisfies both our basic human urge to feel important and our desire to contribute.
We grow in our personal lives and make progress toward living an extraordinary life when we serve others. We challenge our preconceived notions about how much good one person can do in the world and witness firsthand how even the tiniest acts of kindness may change people’s lives.
Many people question how they can give back when they are barely surviving. However, making an impact on others does not always have to be about money. Some of the most powerful people in history didn’t offer money; instead, they gave their time or resources.
As Tony Robbins often says, “The secret to living is giving.” Here are some little ways you can give and make a big impact on the world.
1. DONATE SUPPLIES
You may support some of the most vulnerable individuals in your community – children – by donating materials to a classroom or school. Children are our future hope and ensuring that they with the tools they need to succeed is a worthwhile task. A few items can help them live up to their promise and reward their optimism.
Contact the local school board or principals in your neighborhood’s school or school district to get engaged. Alternatively, if you have friends or neighbors with school-aged children, ask them who to contact about giving supplies.
In addition to school supplies, you may be able to make a difference by providing books or internet resources such as computers, wireless devices, or software to children who do not have access to them at school or at home.
2. FEED SOMEONE
Cooking together, dining together, or simply sharing food is still one of the most potent ways for humans to bond. According to the USDA, 3.1 million families headed by single moms are at risk of being hungry.
Though it may not appear that you are making a significant contribution to the global hunger epidemic, feeding a few needy people once a week can make a significant difference in their life. Chatting and developing connections with the folks you assist feed can help you make an even bigger difference.
To aid the vulnerable poor in your area, contact local homeless shelters or soup kitchens to find out what their food needs are. Local churches are also excellent sources of information, and they routinely arrange successful food drives. See what other community groups in your region have to offer.
For example, you may find produce cooperatives that donate excess food to impoverished families, groups working to welcome refugees into the community with food-related events, or charity groups putting on dinners or bake sales to support their goals.
3. BECOME A MENTOR
Being someone’s mentor is a terrific way to make a difference — not only for them but also for you. Working with a mentor allows you to perfect your greatest talents, develop talent in your field or art form, and leave a lasting legacy.
Because we are all outstanding at something, anyone can be a mentor. As a mentor, you have the opportunity to assist younger, less experienced people in your industry who may have received less support and resources in the past. You can also help folks in a lower socioeconomic position learn how to improve their prospects, which is a long-term way of making a positive difference.
Focus on your strengths when looking for methods to mentor others. Look for professional groups or opportunities through your job if you want to work with others in your sector.
If you wish to help teenagers, contact your alma institution or use a website like mentoring.org. You can also look into local organizations that provide mentors to children who require positive role models. You can have a long-term impact by just listening to and supporting a child.
4. PAY IT FORWARD
Do you want to discover how to make a tiny but significant difference? Make an effort to pay it forward. Don’t repay someone who shows or demonstrates kindness to you. Instead, repay the favor by being kind to others.
Do a good deed or an uninvited favor for someone you know or even someone you don’t know. There are numerous ways you can do something simple that will have a beneficial influence on the person who gets it, and when you do, you inspire them to continue the good feeling and pay it forward. It also aids in the cultivation of happy emotions and the enhancement of your own sense of fulfillment.
On the way to work, pay for someone’s coffee. Look around your neighborhood for an elderly person or a single parent who could use some assistance with yard maintenance or mending a fence. Keep a supply of gift cards on hand.
Even letting someone go ahead of you during rush hour traffic or opening the door for someone can have a positive impact on their day. When you continually look for ways to act kindly toward others, it will open your eyes to the love and beauty that surrounds all of us.
5. PICK UP TRASH
Picking up trash in your community is a fabulous way to make an impact because it shows that you care about your neighborhood and take pride in where you live and work. It also sets a great example for everyone around you, and it makes people feel more comfortable in their community. Make it even more impactful by getting your family together to do the work side by side.
Begin by tidying up any area that you believe could benefit from some attention. Make it a habit to keep an eye out for trash and stop picking it up when you notice it. You can also take a drive around your neighborhood to observe what needs to be fixed.
Perhaps you might find a park where local children can play in a safe environment. If you wish to have a positive effect in this way but aren’t sure where to begin, contact a neighborhood group, block watch, community liaison police officer, or city council member for advice.
Being a volunteer lets you choose how to make an impact in your community by doing something you care about or supporting a cause that matters to you. There is almost no limit to the ways you can volunteer.
If you care about animals, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. Hospitals rely on exceptional volunteers if you have a talent for working with people. Offer your experience if you’re a professional with abilities you can donate to a good cause.
Volunteer opportunities can be found by contacting your professional licensure organization. You can also volunteer with a non-profit organization to assist them with fundraising for a good cause. Many organizations may have a beneficial influence on individuals they serve with just an extra $50, $100, or more per month.
7. TUTOR SOMEONE
A patient tutor can improve a student’s education and have a good impact on their life. It can make the difference between success and failure, or between being accepted into a school and having to wait until the next year.
Consider teaching a student in your region if you have the skills and time. If you want to work with children, it’s usually ideal to go through an organization. Many wonderful organizations can assist you in finding a way to volunteer as a tutor.
Alternatively, if your local school system or scouting organization offers a tutoring program, you can collaborate with them to benefit their pupils or members.
Recycling may just be one of the easiest ways to make a striking impact on the world around you. You can make an impact by recycling (or not using) just one plastic bottle of water a day. It’s an easy habit to start and will make you aware of more recycling opportunities while you’re out running errands or grabbing a bite to eat. As an avid recycler, you are literally helping everyone and will make an impact on the Earth itself.
Look around your home for innovative ways to recycle, reuse, and upcycle items. Online, especially on photo-based social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, there are many sources of inspiration. It’s incredible how much life can be squeezed out of anything, from old tires to plastic bottles.
You can also make sure you’re buying environmentally friendly products and bringing reusable shopping bags with you when you go shopping. Even the tiniest adjustments can have a positive impact on the environment.
9. DONATE CLOTHING
How many outfits have been gathering dust in your closet? If it’s time for more space and less clutter, donate some clothes. You will assist people who are living in poverty and need a helping hand from a friendly stranger with little to no time or financial expenditure.
Sometimes an outfit that is in good shape and fits is all a person needs to change their limiting beliefs into empowering ones and get a job or promotion that will improve their life.
Are there any elderly people in your neighbourhood? Do you have friends who have recently given birth or who are having difficulty finding daycare owing to their work schedules? By offering to help, you can give back to your community and make it a better place.
Offer to babysit and give a parent a much-needed respite, or add a supper portion to send over to a neighbour who recently underwent surgery when you do your regular grocery run. These are actions that help you make the most of your time and strengthen your bonds with your neighbours, transforming your community into one that never stops giving.
10. DONATE BLOOD
Donated blood helps save lives every day, and since blood can only be stored for a limited amount of time, there is always a need for more. Donating blood is a fantastic way to positively impact your fellow humans.
You can find out where to donate through Red Cross, United Blood Services, or your local hospital. Donating blood can save lives and make a positive impact on the families who are able to continue spending time with their loved ones due to your donation.
11. USE APPS THAT GIVE BACK
Almost all of us use apps on our phones every day, but did you know there are apps available that help you make a positive impact on organizations in need? Apps like Donate a Photo, Charity Miles, and Give2Charity provide easy ways to give back by doing activities as simple as taking a picture, going places you love, and working out.
You can also share what you do on social media to inspire those in your network to create an impact on a larger scale.
12. VOLUNTEER YOUR DOG
Does your dog love to give attention to others? If so, you have the perfect way to make a positive impact while living right in your own home.
You can train your dog to be a therapy pet at a local hospital, nursing home, or airport to give those who are sick or in need life-affirming love. You can also take your well-trained dog to local parks or other public areas and encourage others to give him attention.
13. RUN ERRANDS
You can inquire about clothing requirements at your local homeless shelter or seek out umbrella organizations such as United Way. Check first with domestic violence shelters, as many women fleeing unsafe situations do so without their belongings and are in severe need of clothing and toiletries.
Also, check for local organizations that assist homeless kids; these vulnerable teenagers are frequently on the streets without their things, and providing them with clothes to wear to school and/or employment will have a great impact on them.
When you evaluate your life, you’ll likely find that if you don’t have a positive impact on the lives of others, you’ll feel that something is missing.
When you commit a portion of your time, energy, or resources to help others, you’ll create a deeper sense of fulfillment for yourself and make an impact on those around you. For volunteer opportunities in your area, visit VolunteerMatch.