Everyday Philanthropy: Simple Ways You Can Start Helping Others Today

A simple act of kindness can be enough to change a person’s life.  From the tiniest village in Africa to the streets of your hometown, opportunities to better the world exist and present challenges to those who are brave enough to accept them.

The giving of one’s time, talents, and body is selfless and rewarding.  People from all walks of life and economic statuses can become an “Everyday Philanthropist,” a term created by author Nicole Bouchard Boles by opening up their hearts, homes, and minds to making a difference.

The young mother and expert on low-cost and no-cost giving knows a thing or two about the human spirit.  She has transformed hers through research and volunteerism.  Donating time to worthy causes helped her gain a better understanding of the world around her and the real meaning behind philanthropy.

In fact, the underlying theme of her book is that one does not have to be wealthy to be influential.  Boles notes that many people envision a philanthropist as “a grand lady in pearls writing out checks with a lot of zeros,” but that is far from the truth.  Anyone can leave their mark on the world as long as they are willing to try.  Bank account balances do little to dismay the power of a good intention.

Throughout How to Be an EVERYDAY Philanthropist: 330 Ways To Make A Difference In Your Home, Community, and World‒At No Cost, readers are given ample opportunity to dip a toe into the wading pool of volunteerism.  Here are some of the ideas suggested by the author:

  • Sign an online petition.
  • Knit hats for the homeless.
  • Donate your unwanted formal wear.
  • Recycle your old bicycle.
  • Help out on Election Day.
  • Ditch disposable and use cloth or canvas grocery bags.
  • Eliminate junk mail waste by getting off of mailing lists.

Small commitments like these can eventually lead to bigger endeavors like the experiences written about by author Pam Grout.  Her book, The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life includes many free opportunities to make a difference as well as providing information about programs that charge a fee.  Being a lighthouse keeper or working at the legendary Patch Adam’s Gesundheit! Institute are a few of the ways that people can roll up their sleeves and get involved with helping others.

Grout, who has written several books for National Geographic, sees the spiritual side of travel.  She believes that the closer you get to the people you meet on your journey, the better.  She states, “People in developing countries have a depth of joy, a richness to which those of us consumed with material things are often blind.  The question persists: Who ends up getting helped the most when you travel to help others?”  Chances are the person that she is referring to is you, an “Everyday Philanthropist”.

According to a report put out by the Corporation for National & Community Service, volunteering has measurable benefits.  People that give their time and resources to others are happier, healthier, have better control over their lives, demonstrate high levels of self-esteem and greater life satisfaction.

If you are looking for a way to improve the quality of your life, volunteerism is one of the quickest routes to a better sense of overall well-being.  Grab a friend or family member and spend a few hours at your local soup kitchen.  The people that you help will be glad that you did.

Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer for ChickSpeak, Buzzine, DisFUNKshion Magazine, Student Stuff, and a guest contributor for Wisebread.  She loves thrift related topics and can spot a bargain a mile away.

Author: Charissa

Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.

7 comments
Julie
Julie

For people who rent and cannot keep a pet at home, volunteering a couple hours a week cuddling with cats or walking dogs can be fun and fulfilling.

Also, a website called LiveMocha is a peer to peer site where you can learn languages for free. You complete an activity and another learner who natively speaks the language you're learning corrects your activity. To volunteer for 20-30 minutes from home you can correct another person's activity in your native language!

TODHD
TODHD

As the saying goes, the more people that you help, the more it would benefit you

Credit Girl
Credit Girl

In reply to @Jen,

You bring up a great point that we really ought to donate better whole grain foods. My church community also runs food drives so I'll definitely make that a point next time. Although I'm sure they'd be happy with any food we provide, it'd just be more nutritious if we could provide them with healthier alternatives.

Credit Girl
Credit Girl

I think it starts at home. What we teach our children at home is how they will act towards others. In my family(extended as well), we teach the children to volunteer and give back to the community. We do that by participating in city beach clean-ups as well as conserved marshes and parks. In addition to that, we also show them that they must share their possessions by giving up things they no longer use because someone else can certainly make use of it better than them.

TODHD
TODHD

The more that you give back, the more that you will receive. That is the attitude that you have to have going into any situation

kt- lifedividend
kt- lifedividend

i prefer donating things to the less fortunate because my work schedule does not allow me to volunteer in hospices and whatnot. I give things that i use so that i dont feel as if i am unloading my rubbish on the less fortunate

Jen
Jen

These are small, and not things I do everyday, but I think they help.

Whenever I go to McDonald's I toss my change into the collection for the Ronald McDonald House (homes around the country near hospitals where children and their families can stay when the children are receiving treatment). I also toss my spare change into the Salvation Army buckets during the holidays. Plus, for the Sundays when my church collects food for the local food pantry I'll buy extra canned goods and pasta when I'm at the store. I buy the same items I buy for myself. Just because they're poor doesn't mean they shouldn't eat the same quality I eat. Plus, I heard on NPR this morning that hunger isn't just a problem, but getting nutritious foods, and food pantries are seeing more junk food showing up than healthy food (e.g., sugary cereals instead of whole grain cereals).