These days, there are more ways to help others than ever before, with 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the U.S. alone. Many of these organizations provide opportunities to give with just the click of the mouse, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Americans gave $410 billion to charity in 2017, or that in 2018, 77.4 million Americans volunteered to help those less fortunate, logging 6.9 billion volunteer hours.
With so many choices available to get involved and give back, busy individuals might have a hard time narrowing down their options. With that in mind, Stacker has put together a list highlighting some everyday options for being charitable.
To compile this list, Stacker set out to find causes that are possible to support on a day-to-day basis, are widely accessible to readers across the U.S., and manageable for all income levels. Stacker has highlighted the simple, the convenient, the creative, and the most unique opportunities to pay it forward.
Check your schedule and maybe even grab your wallet, there’s something to inspire nearly everyone in the slideshow ahead.
Those interested in helping the environment and tending to their overall health may be interested in plogging, a new trend originally developed by Sweden's Erik Ahlström. It's easy enough; while jogging, keep an eye out for trash and litter, and pick it up as you go.
Unused gift cards can do more than simply take up wallet space. A number of services allow you to donate your balance to a charity of choice, and others will accept the card directly via mail. Regional organizations can likely benefit too, just be sure to check in first and make sure they accept gift cards.
Fans of popular entertainment can find opportunities to give back in the spirit of their favorite book or movie, if they know where to look. Examples of organizations directly tied to iconic cultural properties include the 501st Legion ("Star Wars") and Lumos (founded by "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling). Those who want to dig a little deeper may find just the collector's item they're looking for at Charitybuzz.
Performing a random act of kindness, either independently or in line with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation—which offers downloadable freebies to support their mission—is often simple, inexpensive, and just the thing to brighten someone's day. Plenty of other resources exist online to help spark ideas for those who'd rather operate independently.
With the same features and products as Amazon, users may find AmazonSmile hard to pass up. On qualifying purchases, 0.5% of sales go to a charity of the shopper's choice.
Military personnel who are far from home can enjoy the kindness of strangers with the help of a number of organizations. The Department of Defense list offers a starting point for those looking to send care packages to those deployed overseas.
Philanthropists who prefer a longer commitment may be drawn to some of the many organizations allow donors to opt-in and give regular, scheduled donations. It can be a great fit for those who want an ongoing relationship with their cause of choice, or those whose budget allows for steady contributions.
It's not just car washes and cookie sales; there are endless ways to spotlight a worthy cause. A personal garage sale with a commitment to donate earnings, or even a community event with a donation jar can still shift the focus toward others.
Participating in a Canstruction event might be a great match for those with a competitive spirit, artistic streak, and a passion for fighting hunger. Events are hosted throughout the globe, with participants creating (often elaborate) sculptures out of canned food, and ultimately donating the materials used.
Ever been walking along and spotted a colorful rock painted with a cheerful greeting? It may have been part of The Kindness Rocks Project. Decorating a rock with a motivational greeting may be just the craft to help connect kids to the idea of charitable giving, too.
Though it's something that only lactating mothers can consider, donated breast milk can make a significant difference in the lives of young babies and their families. Donors can also take comfort in knowing that many organizations prioritize recipients based on need, meaning that their milk is most likely going to the babies who can most benefit from it.
Pet owners may be happy to hear that they don't have to leave their best friends at home when they volunteer. A number of options exist for animal lovers who want to include their dog or cat in their volunteer efforts, too.
Showing up and checking out books is often all that's asked of library patrons, but don't forget that libraries offer plenty of other community services, too. Friends of the library programs give neighbors opportunities to help and donate. Ensure that your library card is up to date and that your local branch has your information so you can hear about upcoming happenings.
Trading dinner in a restaurant for a benefit or a movie night for a silent auction is a chance to put funds that would have been spent anyways toward something that benefits the greater good. A break from routine may also inspire other ideas.
One person's junk is another person's treasure, which is another person's charitable donation, or so the saying goes. If you have unneeded items like toys or household goods in new or gently used condition, there are a number of ways those items may help someone else. Try keeping a bin or box in a nondescript part of your home to collect items as you go and make the process less daunting.
Professional knowledge and abilities can serve more than just an employer. A wealth of technical, creative, and industry-specific skills can be shared with nonprofits and other groups to advance missions that matter. Volunteer matching service Catchafire can help those interested find a perfect fit.