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50 ways to be charitable every day

  • 50 ways to be charitable every day
    1/ Victoria 1 // Shutterstock

    50 ways to be charitable every day

    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.

    ALSO: 82 top-rated charities for supporting the military, veterans, and their families

  • Pick up litter, with a twist
    2/ Curtis MacNewton // Flickr

    Pick up litter, with a twist

    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.

  • Pay for someone else at the drive-thru
    3/ Ministr-84 // Shutterstock

    Pay for someone else at the drive-thru

    It's sometimes dubbed “paying it forward,” although participants technically pay for the person behind them. The phenomenon of buying coffee or treats for the person after you in the drive-thru is a relatively new trend that's picked up steam in recent years.

  • Overtip
    4/ Sam Truong Dan // Unsplash


    Like paying it forward at a drive-thru, overtipping is a one-time, semi-anonymous gesture made to brighten the day—or week—of the recipient. Those looking for inspiration, or even some contagious cheer, may want to search #tipthebillchallenge for examples.

  • Keep those hotel giveaways
    5/ KOMUnews // Flickr

    Keep those hotel giveaways

    Savvy travelers may want to leave a little extra room in their suitcases. The travel-sized toiletries offered by hotels can be useful to a number of organizations, including many local shelters. Even major hotel chains are hopping on the bandwagon and donating extra toiletries.

  • Shop secondhand
    6/ miss.libertine // Flickr

    Shop secondhand

    Shoppers should be prepared to keep their minds open and their eyes peeled when shopping secondhand. There's less packaging and less expense, so it helps both the environment and the wallet. In many—but not all—cases, proceeds go towards local charities, so be sure to do your research.

  • Try One Today
    7/ jordandemuth // Pixabay

    Try One Today

    One of many apps designed to make giving easier, One Today urges users to “make it your very own generosity app.” One dollar can be donated each day to the giver's charity of choice.

  • Put your gift cards to good use
    8/ Rebecca Aldama // Unsplash

    Put your gift cards to good use

    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.

  • Share The Meal
    9/ WFP/Angeli Mendoza // Wikimedia Commons

    Share The Meal

    ShareTheMeal is yet another simple app that allows users to send a $0.50 a donation to feed a child for a day. The app comes from the United Nations' World Food Programme, and has shared over 31 million meals to date.

  • Explore fandom
    10/ Rae Tian // Unsplash

    Explore fandom

    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.  

  • Get crafty
    11/ Foundry // pixabay

    Get crafty

    Those with supplies at the ready may be pleased to know that their favorite hobby can easily do some good for others. A variety of organizations are ready and willing to accept crafts that only cost a few dollars to make, and are often simple enough for kids to pitch in and help.

  • Donate a photo
    12/ Priscilla Du Preez // Unsplash

    Donate a photo

    This Johnson & Johnson sponsored app hosts a photo gallery that allows contributors to upload daily photos. With every submission, $1 is donated to charity, so there is no money out of pocket for users.

  • Install a bat house
    13/ Deedster // Pixabay

    Install a bat house

    Bats live all over the globe, so almost anyone can support bat conservation efforts. Installing a bat house can be a one-time effort with minimal expenses that does a lot of good for the local ecosystems.

  • Attend an agriculturally minded concert
    14/ Free-Photos // Pixabay

    Attend an agriculturally minded concert

    Originally started by musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp, Farm Aid's mission is to “keep family farmers on the land.” Their flagship event is an annual concert, but there are a number of other ways to help.


  • Make a one-time donation
    15/ BNN_NEWS // Pixabay

    Make a one-time donation

    Giving money may be among the first things to come to mind when the word “charitable” is used. For those inclined, there are plenty of resources available to ensure that donations are spent in a way that the giver deems appropriate.

  • Commit to a regular random act of kindness
    16/ Sandrachile // Unsplash

    Commit to a regular random act of kindness

    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.

  • Share the spotlight with an important cause
    17/ Free-Photos // Pixabay

    Share the spotlight with an important cause

    Whether celebrating a birthday, graduation, anniversary, or retirement—or even planning a watch party for a favorite game or big awards show—it's easy to provide an excuse for guests to give to charity. Attendees may welcome the chance to bring donations and support a relevant cause.

  • Pay for school lunches
    18/ USDAgov // Flickr

    Pay for school lunches

    Writer Ashley C. Ford tweeted about the idea of paying for lunches in 2017, and has since launched a landslide of giving. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to handling outstanding lunch debt, so potential donors will want to reach out directly to schools or districts they'd like to help.

  • Bring kids along to volunteer opportunities
    19/ // Shutterstock

    Bring kids along to volunteer opportunities

    Kids can bring new energy when they come along to volunteer with friends or family. Grown-ups want to be sure that the activity is age-appropriate, but with plenty of options out there, they shouldn't have a problem.

  • Donate frequent flyer miles
    20/ Emiel Molenaar // Unsplash

    Donate frequent flyer miles

    A number of airlines allow customers to donate frequent flyer miles to a charity of their choosing. Once the traveler has collected enough miles to make a donation, they can often do it from the comfort of their home by calling the airline or logging into their mileage account.

  • Plan a swap with friends
    21/ Shanna Camilleri // Unsplash

    Plan a swap with friends

    At first, getting friends together to trade may not seem like a charitable act. In reality, swapping makes great use of what's already been created which saves energy, packaging, and money. Clothing swaps are especially popular, but trading goods, toys, and other items can work, too.

  • Handwrite notes of encouragement
    22/ kaboompics // Pixabay

    Handwrite notes of encouragement

    Putting pen to paper, or even crayon to card, rarely takes more than a few minutes, and only requires a postage stamp to reach its destination. Cards can be sent during the holidays, or anytime the giver wishes to brighten the day of the recipient.

  • Consider a little library
    23/ randy7 // Pixabay

    Consider a little library

    Little Free Libraries, dubbed “the world's largest book-sharing movement,” expand traditional library values of reading and community to neighborhoods across the U.S.. Although some Little Free Libraries have received pushback from community members, many folks are still embracing the trend.

  • Check out Little Free Pantries
    24/ Michael Barera // Wikimedia Commons

    Check out Little Free Pantries

    In the same spirit of Little Free Libraries, Little Free Pantries exist to bring neighbors together, and combat food insecurity. A mom in Arkansas came up with the idea, which has quickly spread since 2016.

  • Donate stocks or bonds
    25/ rawpixel // Pixabay

    Donate stocks or bonds

    Someone with stocks or bonds they're ready to share might be happy to know that donating them can help save money on their income taxes, too. Many large and well-known organizations, like Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, make the process easy and accessible.

  • Download Forest
    26/ janeb13 // Pixabay

    Download Forest

    Those looking to combine charitable efforts with personal productivity will find that exact opportunity with Forest. The app helps motivate users to stay off their phones by giving the option to plant real trees when enough goals have been reached.

  • Purchase from businesses that donate
    27/ REL Waldman // Flickr

    Purchase from businesses that donate

    The “buy one, give one” business model was popularized by TOMS, and the idea has only spread since their 2006 founding. Many businesses and brands have adopted similar models, offering goods like socks, toothbrushes, and medical scrubs

  • Visit AmazonSmile
    28/ Arcansel // Shutterstock

    Visit AmazonSmile

    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.

  • Bid for good
    29/ Burst // Unsplash

    Bid for good

    Another idea for those looking to do some good with their online shopping is BiddingForGood. The company, originally founded in 2003, takes the web-based auction model originally made famous by eBay, and provides a platform for fundraisers of all kinds to take their efforts online.

  • Donate bras
    30/ Pablo Heimplatz // Wikimedia Commons

    Donate bras

    A much needed, but often-forgotten item when it comes to donations, bras and undergarments can make a huge difference in the lives of recipients. Consider local organizations, or check Be A Dear, Donate a Brassiere, a national organization.


  • Send care packages
    31/ Leah Stiles / US Navy // Wikimedia Commons

    Send care packages

    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.

  • Set-up recurring donations
    32/ darkmoon1968 // Pixabay

    Set-up recurring donations

    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.

  • Host a fundraiser
    33/ minicooper93402// Flickr

    Host a fundraiser

    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.

  • Try Tab for a Cause
    34/ StartupStockPhotos // Pixabay

    Try Tab for a Cause

    Tab for a Cause takes over a web browser's “new tab” page and offers a cleanly designed page with various features, including some ads. Showing ads earns Tab for a Cause revenue, which in turn gets donated to the charity of the user's choice.

  • Do some creative canning
    35/ Chakshu101 // Wikimedia Commons

    Do some creative canning

    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.

  • Make happy rocks
    36/ echilds41 // Flickr

    Make happy rocks

    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.

  • Purchase to share
    37/ Free-Photos // Pixabay

    Purchase to share

    Consider putting a few extra dollars towards goods that are often used up and need to be replaced, like school supplies or personal hygiene items. It may seem like a small gesture, but the impact can be significant, especially for teachers.

  • Use that green thumb for good
    38/ Free-Photos // Pixabay

    Use that green thumb for good

    Growing one's own food has a number of benefits for the environment, though home gardeners may be happy to know that thanks to, they can help their communities, too. The search tool can help users find local food banks that will accept extra fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Go the extra mile
    39/ Taliesi // Pixabay

    Go the extra mile

    Runners, walkers, athletes, or those looking for motivation to move more will appreciate the Charity Miles model. The app tracks steps, and makes donations with each mile traveled. It's free, and funds come from a corporate donorship pool, so it costs nothing for users to contribute.

  • Show up, even just once
    40/ Leo Rodman // Flickr

    Show up, even just once

    A number of organizations have short-term volunteer options available that often don't require more than a few hours of time, such as food banks, for example. Those interested should watch community calendars for events scheduled around key dates and holidays.

  • Donate breast milk
    41/ Jengod // Wikimedia Commons

    Donate breast milk

    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.

  • Involve four-legged friends
    42/ seattleanimal // Flickr

    Involve four-legged friends

    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.

  • Support local libraries
    43/ StockSnap // Pixabay

    Support local libraries

    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.

  • Take a ride
    44/ rawq // Pixabay

    Take a ride

    Avid bikers may not need an excuse to hop on their motorcycle, but it turns out that there are plenty. Groups like the Patriot Guard Riders and Bikers Against Child Abuse are established nonprofits, while countless other rides and events are often available for bikers who know where to find them.

  • Have some guilt-free snacks
    45/ Rachael Gorjestani // Unsplash

    Have some guilt-free snacks

    Love with Food offers subscription snack boxes, and in an effort to combat hunger, donates one or two meals for each delivery made, depending on the size of the box. Monthly plans start at $7.99 per box and promise at least seven snacks.

  • Donate in someone else's honor
    46/ // Shutterstock

    Donate in someone else's honor

    Contributing to a cause on someone else's behalf allows the givers to make a personalized connection with their donation. Though be warned, there have been mixed reviews from etiquette experts on using such a gesture as a gift.

  • Attend a fundraiser
    47/ mackeedoo // Flickr

    Attend a fundraiser

    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.

  • Donate a personal item
    48/ Samantha Saulsbury // U.S. Air Force

    Donate a personal item

    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.

  • Serve a meal
    49/ addkm // Shutterstock

    Serve a meal

    There are countless opportunities to volunteer in-person with local food banks and with hunger-relief organizations. Commitments can range from one visit to long-term partnerships.

  • Be intentional about giving clothes away
    50/ Makistock // Shutterstock

    Be intentional about giving clothes away

    Donating clothes may seem easy enough, but giveaways can end up on a variety of paths, some of which are likely not what the giver intended. Donors who want to ensure their giveaways are doing the most possible good may want to do some research before dropping off those clothes.

  • Offer a skill or trade
    51/ Alex Radelich // Unsplash

    Offer a skill or trade

    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.


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