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50 ways to be charitable every day

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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

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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.

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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.

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Sam Truong Dan // Unsplash

Overtip

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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rawpixel.com // 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.


 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 AmpleHarvest.org, they can help their communities, too. The search tool can help users find local food banks that will accept extra fresh fruits and vegetables.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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rawpixel.com // 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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