“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
It is a new year, and for many people a new year is synonymous with setting new resolutions and goals for the year. Among the list of most common new year resolutions, most people will list exercise more, learn a new skill or hobby, save money, get out of debt, travel more, etc. While these are all worthwhile goals and resolutions to have and to work towards, have you ever considered adding “being a philanthropist” to your new year’s resolution list? If not, you should!
Despite what you might think, you don’t have to have copious amounts of money to be a philanthropist. In fact, there are ways that you can bless others’ lives, make a positive impact on your community and the world without having to spend any money. Here are a few actions you can do that will make a positive impact on someone else.
One of the easiest ways to be a philanthropist that anybody can do is to find ways to volunteer. This can be as simple as taking dinner into a sick friend, handing out food at a soup kitchen, or taking time to read to a small child. If you are looking for other ways to volunteer your time, consider spending an afternoon at your local food pantry sorting and organizing donations, checking with community and religious leaders to find volunteer opportunities in your community. Some local schools have volunteers who spend their time assisting teachers with various tasks to keep their classrooms organized and students engaged in learning.
Paying it Forward
There are countless ways in which you can pay it forward without having to spend a ton of money. It can be as simple as picking up trash along the roadway, or at your neighborhood park. Perhaps you’re feeling extra generous and can afford to purchase the person in the drive through’s order behind you. Another great way to pay it forward is to pay a compliment to those whom you interact with on a daily basis, or interact with via social media. If you live in an area with parking meters, consider dropping spare change into someone’s parking meter, or purchasing a bus, train or subway ticket for someone else. All of these are ways that you can pay it forward without having to spend a lot of time or money to make a positive impact on someone else’s day.
There are countless different ways and different items that you can donate to help benefit those who are less fortunate or those in need. This can include items around your home that you no longer need or use, i.e., clothing, shoes, books, electronics, etc. You can also donate food to your local food pantry by taking in your donations, donating to the United States Post Office Stamp Out Hunger food drive and other local food drives. Many thrift stores accept donations of gently used items that can then be resold at a discounted rate. This is a great way to clean out your closet and home, while knowing that your unused, unwanted items are going to help others.
Another way that many don’t often think about when thinking of philanthropic actions is to donate blood or plasma. There is always a need for viable blood and plasma to be donated. This life saving action on your part, requires no money, only your time and willingness to donate your blood or plasma to help save lives.
Other things that you can donate can include your time, skills and talents, spare change to homeless and charitable organizations. There are many different ways that you can donate to make a difference, costing you little to no money at all. Once you’ve donated once, it can become addicting and you’ll want to continue to donate again and again.
Along with considering adding “philanthropy” to your list of goals and resolutions for the new year, many people also have goals of getting fit and healthy. This is another great way in which you can adopt a philanthropy mind set. When working towards a goal of getting fit and exercising, consider looking for a race that supports a local charity. There are various types of charity events, anything from running, walking, cycling and walking pets that support just about any disease or cause that you can think of.
I personally have participated in a few different 5K races that have supported different causes. Some that I was very passionate about and others I wasn’t exactly familiar with, but I felt good doing something good for me, while contributing to a big, worthwhile cause. Similarly, during college, I was invited to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. All of these were experiences where I was able to do something that I enjoy, something that I would normally be doing, but this time I was able to help raise awareness and show support for something bigger than myself.
Aside from Relay for Life, popular events include events that support cancer survivors and research (i.e., Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure), Veterans (i.e., Ride for The Fallen, Wounded Warrior Carry Forward 5K), St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital (St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend) and so many more. If this sounds like something that you want to be involved in, search for events and races in your community that you can participate in, and show an act of philanthropy to those around you.
When disaster or tragedy strikes, one of the first things that people want to know is how they can help those affected. A simple solution is to donate funds to help cover the unexpected medical and or funeral expenses associated with the event. When you personally know those who have been affected, it is easier to know how best to help and get the donations to them. When it is someone who you don’t know personally, but you still feel moved to help, it can be in your best interest to consider crowdfunding.
Depending on the severity of the tragedy or disaster, a crowdfunding campaign can sometimes be created almost immediately after, to raise the most amount of funds as quickly as possible. Once created, it is easy to share the campaign on social media sites, and new outlets, depending on the size and severity, to gain attention and spread the word about the campaign.
The best part about crowdfunding, is that it doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part and it does not require a big, traumatic event to qualify. In fact, crowd funding has been and continues to be used for a wide variety of causes. Anything from, school uniforms to funding a new handicap accessible bathroom, to “Breakfast with Santa”. As you can see, crowdfunding can be used to bless and help others for any reason you can think of. An additional benefit of crowdfunding, is that it removes geographical barriers; allowing for people all across the globe to donate and be a philanthropist in their own way.
As you can see there are so many different ways in which you can be a philanthropist without having to have lots of money to donate. Small and simple actions that you can adopt in your daily life, can help you to develop a philanthropy lifestyle. Start today by finding small ways in which you can do good and bless the lives of others around you.
Author: Ashley Christensen