When was the last time you felt as if you’d really made a difference in the world? That your actions directly impacted someone else’s life, increasing their well-being?
Many of us can’t remember the last time this occurred outside of our immediate families and circles of friends. And that’s not necessarily our fault. It’s not as easy as it should be to find quality opportunities to give back to our communities and to the world at large.
Sure, we can donate a few dollars here and there. But not all of us are fortunate enough to have the money to do that, and donations don’t always end up in the right hands anyway. If we want to feel that we’re making an immediate, positive impact, we have to roll up our sleeves.
Where to begin? With these nine ways to give back close to home and far away.
1. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Who doesn’t love working with animals? Depending on the shelter’s needs, your duties could involve direct care, administrative tasks, other types of support work, or all of the above. In any case, you can take pride in knowing that your work paves the way for future pet parents to adopt furry friends who desperately need homes.
2. Team Up With Faith Organizations Doing Good Things in the World
Find a faith organization that’s already doing amazing things in the world. The best opportunities lie with groundbreaking groups that go against the grain. When you read stories like this one, about V1 Church making 2020 its most charitable year yet, you can only dream about what lies ahead.
3. Share Your Skills By Teaching a Community Education Class
You have talents and experiences that no one else does. Why not share them with your neighbors by teaching a community education class? Even if it doesn’t pay well, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped others.
4. Join a Neighborhood Board or Community Action Group
Staying close to home, why not join a community board or action group and directly, positively impact local politics? Whatever your priorities for a stronger, more resilient community, you’re sure to find willing partners in your efforts.
5. Organize a Canned Food Drive
Whether it’s through a faith organization, a school, a food bank, or some other community organization, a canned food drive can have immediate benefits for the less fortunate. If no one is stepping up in your area, why not take the initiative yourself?
6. Take a “Volunteer Vacation”
Organizations like Volunteer HQ help people who want to give back around the world do just that — safely, efficiently, and without navigating red tape themselves. Look for opportunities that speak to your values and skills.
7. Participate in a Habitat for Humanity Build
Do you like rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty? You’d be a great fit as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Don’t worry, you won’t need to get your plumber’s license or go back to school for an engineering degree. Habitat volunteers take on straightforward tasks that just about any able-bodied person is capable of completing.
8. Gather Old Toys and Books for Less Fortunate Kids and Families
Admit it, they’re just gathering dust in your storage closet or attic. You’ll never use them again. Why not donate them to families and kids who need them right now, and who can’t afford them otherwise? There’s no better way to light up a home.
9. Support Reputable Organizations Providing Disaster and Hunger Relief Around the World
We almost made it to the end without recommending cash donations to faraway lands. Yes, not all international aid organizations are great stewards of donor funds, and direct cash assistance can be problematic in certain cases, but let’s face it: Donating to reputable groups like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders is a good use of your money and an efficient use of your time. Those donations really do help the less fortunate, often in places it’s not safe or practical to visit ourselves.
Do Your Part to Make the World a Better Place
You can undertake any of these opportunities to give back and support the less fortunate as soon as you’re able — taking the first steps today, if you’d like, and completing the deal in a few cases (such as sending a donation to the Red Cross).
In doing so, you’ll have done your small part to make the world a better place. You might discover that giving back and paying it forward are deeply satisfying. Perhaps you’ll want to do it all over again before long.
There’s only one way to find out.