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10 easy ways to make a big impact
How even the smallest of of gestures can make the world a better place
“…the wealthiest 10% of Americans only account for 25% of all charitable giving…”
Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa all left an irrevocable mark on humanity. But, you don’t have spend your days being a good samaritan in order 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 most of the money given to various causes in the U.S. are given in small amounts by people in lower economic groups? Consequently, those are the causes that raise the most money.
Sure, the wealthy give in large amounts, but looking at the big picture, that’s not what makes the difference. In fact, according to talkaboutgiving.org a person who earns $20,000 per year or under gives twice as much as someone who earns $100,000 per year. Also, the wealthiest 10% of Americans only account for 25% of all charitable giving.
But giving doesn’t always have to be of monetary value. Some of the biggest influencers in our history didn’t give money — they gave time or resources. Here are some little ways you can give and make a big impact on the world.
Donate supplies to a classroom or school
By donating supplies to a classroom or school, you can make an impact on some of the most vulnerable people in your community — children. They are also some of the most promising and hopeful people! A few supplies can reward that hopefulness and help them live up to their promise.
Get involved by contacting the local school board or principals in your neighborhood’s school or school district. Or, if you have friends or neighbors with kids enrolled in school, ask them who to speak to about donating supplies.
Become a mentor
Being someone’s mentor is a fantastic opportunity — not just for them, but for you, too! Working with someone as their mentor allows you to hone your best skills, develop talent in your industry or art and even create a legacy. Anyone can be a mentor, because we are all great at something; moreover, as a mentor you get to help younger, less experienced people in your field who may have had less support and resources.
To find ways to mentor others, focus on your strengths. If you’d like to work with people in your industry, look for professional organizations or opportunities through your employer. If you want to work with young people, reach out to your alma mater or through a platform like mentoring.org.
Pay it forward
Looking for a small but meaningful way to make an impact? Try paying it forward. Do a good deed or unsolicited favor for someone you know, or even a total stranger. There are countless ways you can do something small that means the world to the person on the receiving end, and when you do, you inspire them to keep that good feeling going and pay it forward.
Pay for someone’s coffee on the way to work. Look around your neighborhood: is there an older person or a single parent who could use some help with their yard work or a fence that needs mending? Keep a stash of gift cards with you, and give them to people when you see someone who needs help or just a pick-me-up.
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 makes people feel more pride in their community.
Start anywhere you think could use some sprucing up. You can simply make it your practice to keep your eyes peeled for trash and stop to get it when you see it. Or, you can take a drive around your neighborhood and see which areas need work. Maybe you can choose a park so that local children have a clean place to play. If you love the idea but feel stumped, reach out to a neighborhood group, block watch, community liaison police officer or city council member to ask for suggestions on where to start.
Being a volunteer lets you choose how to make an impact in your community doing something you care about or supporting a cause that matters to you. There is almost no limit to the ways you can volunteer.
Volunteer at an animal shelter if you care about animals. If you have a talent for working with people, the hospitals rely on great volunteers. If you’re a professional and have skills you can donate to a cause, your expertise will be invaluable. Check with your professional licensure organizations for volunteering opportunities.
A patient tutor can make a tremendous impact on a student’s life, and can even mean the difference between success and failure, or acceptance to schools and waiting until next year. If you have the skill and time, consider tutoring a student in your area.
It’s generally best to go through an organization if you’re hoping to work with kids, and there are many great organizations that can help you find a way to volunteer as a tutor. Contact readingpartners.org or volunteermatch.org to find opportunities in your area. Or, if the school district or scouting organization where you live has a tutoring program, work with them.
Recycling may just be one of the simplest ways to make a striking impact on the world around you. 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 the Earth itself.
Look for new ways to recycle, reuse and upcycle things around your house. There are countless sources of inspiration online, especially on photo-based social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram — it’s amazing to see how much life people can get out of everything from old tires to plastic bottles.
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 be helping people who are living in poverty and need a helping hand from a friendly stranger.
You can ask your local homeless shelter about their clothing needs, or reach out to organizations like United Way, which function as umbrella groups. Check with domestic violence shelters, as many women leaving dangerous situations flee without their possessions and desperately need clothes and toiletries. Also consider looking up groups that help homeless teens in your area; these vulnerable teens are often on the street without their things, and they need clothes to wear to school and/or work.
Donated blood helps save lives every day, and since blood can only be stored for limited amounts of time, there is always a need for more.