It’s the season of giving, and many of us want to help others. Looking to make a positive contribution but not sure how? You’re not alone. Our desire to give back and the demands for assistance are huge throughout the year, but especially as it winds down.
“There are so many organizations who need donations and volunteers,” says Anne Bardsley, author of Angel Bumps. “I’d say choose a cause close to your heart. When something is more meaningful people tend to give more, financially and emotionally.” Bardsley recommends finding opportunities to be kind as the day goes on, so you don’t have to plan anything. “It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to make a difference in someone’s day.”
Looking for a few more ways to give back? We’ve rounded up some fresh ideas.
Recycle Your Reads
Got a stack of books that you didn’t get to this year or already plowed through? Dr. Marlene Caroselli, a New York-based author, keynote speaker, and corporate trainer, suggests gathering those that you don’t intend to read again and donating them to a library. Libraries offer frequent book sales, which make it possible for others to get discounted books.
Pen Some Positivity
Looking for an easy way to brighten someone’s day? Write an uplifting note to a child battling cancer this holiday at iseeeme.com/letters. For every 50 letters received, a book will be donated to a child. The program is part of I See Me’s Letters of Love campaign, which was created in partnership with the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
Ever had someone pay for your cup of Joe? There’s a website—Suspended Coffees—that lets you pay for people’s coffee anonymously. You may not know whom you help directly, but you’ll know you’ve done something nice and put some good juju out into the universe.
Because it’s the end of the year and chilly in most places, now is the perfect time to organize a coat drive. Check out One Warm Coat, which gives you tools and resources needed to hold a successful coat drive. To find a participating location near you, search the One Warm Coat drive locator.
Make a Difference the Mobile Way
The internet is full of apps to help people do good. Check out Beam, which connects users with retailers who are committed to doing social good and giving back with every purchase. Others to explore include com and One Today.
Donating money is, of course, another helpful gesture, but be mindful of where you’re sending checks. Tracey Friedlander, an attorney from Maryland who volunteers with her family, recommends visiting org, CharityNavigator.org, GiveWell.org,and Give.org because they give information on charities regarding how they are governed and how they financially operate. December giving represents a significant percentage of all online giving (between 21.8 percent and 33 percent). Organizations really depend on giving at this time of the year. In fact, 28 percent of nonprofits raise between 26 to 50 percent of their entire annual funds from the end of the year. They need your help to help others!
Help Hurricane Victims
The storms that hit the U.S. this year are still having an impact. Looking to put in some manpower to help rebuild? Visit the National Voluntary Organizations Involved in Disaster.
Get Serious About Volunteering
Want to join a club that gives back throughout the entire year and can encourage you to do good all year long? Check out Kiwanis International, which has chapters across the globe plus programs for students.
Whether you donate money to write off on your taxes or single-handedly rescue someone from disaster, you’ll be doing good. Good news is that you can make the world a better place in a way that fits into your life—and enables you to make someone else’s a little better, too.
Teach Kids in Your Life to Give Back
Friedlander recommends gathering with family members—especially kids—to do good (it can also teach them about the importance of giving back and inspire them to do it throughout their lives). Whether it’s with your nieces and nephews, neighbors, or your own kids, check out the ideas and tool kits for kids worldwide at Youth Service America and generationOn. Families can volunteer at a pet shelter, prepare food at a food pantry, or deliver meals, among other idea activities. “While many are celebrating the holidays, others are feeling lonely and sad. A visit or kind gesture can be truly life-changing,” she said.