20 Ways To Give Back Without Spending Any Money

There’s a major misconception in the world today about giving back. We hear of major donors like Bill Gates, who has given over  $30.2 billion to charity or Mark Zuckerberg, who pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to public interest causes, and we are in awe.

These contributions are truly inspiring, but sometimes the magnitude of these donations causes people to have the false impression that massive donations have to be involved to make a difference in the world. Luckily, there are other ways to give back without breaking the bank.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK)

It’s the small things that truly add up when it comes to making the world a better place. That’s why I chose to begin this post with a few ideas of random acts of kindness that you can apply to your life. Think of what a better place the world would be if everyone attempted to give back by doing one small act of kindness each day.

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  1. Smile and say ‘hello.’ It’s easy to forget that a simple smile and acknowledgment of someone’s existence is enough to turn their day around. Smiling is even scientifically proven to make you happier– and it’s infectious. So spread the love and smile today!
  2. Stop complaining. It’s easy to get down about your life and find flaws in yourself or others, but attempt to break the habit. Not only is complaining terrible for your mental and physical health— it also brings negative energy to everyone around you. Focus on the positive aspects of your life and talk about your joys instead.
  1. Give someone a compliment. And it needs to be genuine. Think of the effect you would have on people if you said one nice thing every day! Make an effort to build people up instead of putting them down.
  1. Write a kind letter. A letter is better than a verbal compliment– because the person can keep the note and look back on it during tough times. Take time to write down why you appreciate someone– whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, or a thank you letter to a soldier overseas.
  1. Bring someone a meal. Okay… This one is kind of cheating if you have to go to the grocery store and buy ingredients, but assuming you’ve got some food in your pantry– throw together a meal and bring it to the local homeless shelter or to a neighbor who is going through a hard time.
  1. Quit driving like a maniac. The next time someone cuts you off or is driving too slowly in front of you, smile and let it go instead of tailgating and honking your horn. There’s enough negative energy in the world– don’t let bad drivers ruin your day.
  1. Help the environment. Pick up trash on the ground when you see it. Recycle and reuse plastic bags. Make eco-friendly choices like walking or carpooling when you can. No action is too small when it comes to making a difference for the environment.

 

Volunteering

Why not give your time instead of money? Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer. Reflect on your natural talents and abilities then find a way to use them for a good cause! I’ve listed only a few examples of ways you can give your time to the community. For more ideas, visit Volunteer Match to get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you.

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  1. Homeless shelters. Distribute meals, organize the food pantry, collect clothes. Do anything you can to help those in need.
  1. Nursing homes. Visit with the residents. Take time to ask about their lives and truly listen. Read to them, teach them computer skills, or bring them cookies. Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a world of difference for the elderly.
  1. Children’s hospitals. Play with the kids, read to them or help with fundraisers.
  1. Animal shelters. Foster an animal when the shelter runs out of space, help clean the kennels, or take the dogs for a walk.
  2. Tutoring.  Have a gift for teaching? Perfect! Volunteer at a local school or Boys and Girls Club to help kids who are struggling with homework.
  1. Coaching. If you love sports, coach a local youth sports team. Become a role model for underprivileged children and make the effort to change their life for the better.

 

Donating

We live in a world where people are obsessed with material items. It’s so easy to get caught up in having the best stuff– whether it’s the best clothes, the best furniture, or the best toys for your kids. Let go of the material items you don’t need. Even better, use your talents to make things you can donate. Here are just a few ideas:

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  1. Give away all the clothes you don’t wear.  How many items of clothing do you have sitting in your closet that you haven’t worn within the past year? I bet there are at least 10. Help someone in need and donate them to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
  1. Give away any books you don’t read. There are so many people who would love to read the books that are gathering dust on your shelves. Your local library most likely has a donation center to accept gently used books, or you can donate your books to Books for Soldiers.
  1. Donate lightly used toys and stuffed animals. Take old toys to the local children’s hospital, homeless shelters, or children’s centers. There are an astounding number of underprivileged children who would be ecstatic to receive the new toys that are just sitting in the basement.
  1. Make something you can donate. Many people overlook the fact that they can use their talents for good. Are you crafty? Great. Make a blanket or knit hats and scarves for the homeless. If you’re an artist, donate your artwork to charity.
  1. Give blood. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs lifesaving blood according to the American Red Cross. There are millions of people who face emergencies every year that you can help by making a charitable donation.
  1. Donate your hair. Children who lose their hair due to chemotherapy and other medical issues are dependent on organizations like Wigs for Kids and Locks of Love for hairpieces. Change and child’s life and help them gain self-confidence by donating your hair.
  1. Download charity apps. There are a few charity apps that don’t require you to donate any money of your own. Are you a runner? Download Charity Miles and sponsors will donate up to $0.25 per mile to your cause for every mile you run. Want to make donations with everyday transactions? 4ME4WE allows you to shop anywhere and those businesses donate a percentage of the revenue gained from your transaction to the causes you choose.

Bonus: Promote your cause with social media. Another great way to support the causes you love without spending a penny is to advocate for them using social media. A simple way to do this is by using the 4ME4WE app, which allows you to automatically share which brands are enabling you to donate to your favorite causes AND gives friends and followers more information about the charities and causes you care about.

 

Did I miss something? Feel free to add to this list in the comments.

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