Being busy and broke is no excuse for being a selfish asshole. Helping and doing for others doesn’t have to take a lot of time, or cost money. There are a number of great ways that you can give back to your community and the world around you.
If you have time to scroll Instagram for #beyonce, or pin pictures of surfing kittens to your “Baby Animals Engaging in Watersports” board, you have time to do for others.
Below are 17 ways that you can give back to others that won’t cost you much more than your time.
Use Websites to find Volunteer Opportunities
VolunteerMatch and Idealist are both great websites that list volunteer opportunities by interest. They both also offer virtual opportunities. While shelters, food banks and soup kitchens still need people to volunteer staff their programs, this is a great way for people who have less available free time to give back to the world.
Give Back with Acts of Service
Taking the kids to school and a friend along the way has a young baby? Offer to pick her kids up and drop them off. Give her a day of peace without interrupted nap time and the stress that accompanies chauffeuring kids. Stop in and wash dishes or do a load of laundry for a friend who’s had surgery/death in the family/major life event.
Double Your Dinner Recipe and Feed Someone Else
Just like with acts of service, everyone enjoys a good meal that they don’t have to cook. If you’re short on time and money, just double up on a meal you’re already cooking for you family.
Donate Your Household Goods to a Women’s Shelter
Instead of donating your books and clothes to a thrift store where they may or may not even end up on shelves (or benefit a corporation rather than a cause), donate directly to a women’s or homeless shelter. Kids in these situations would love nothing more than the comforts of home and shelters rely on donations to provide most of those. Let a woman who needs that $300 blazer to land a job interview have it, rather than end up in my hands and on eBay.
Take Back Your Shopping Cart (You filthy animal)
Do the world a favor and go ahead and return that cart so someone who needs that parking space can get it. While you’re at it, look for a mom with her hands full and offer to return hers as well. Pat yourself on the back later.
Coupon for Freebies You Can Donate
There are always incredible deals on personal hygiene products, laundry detergent, and other personal and household care items that may be needed at a shelter or center. Do some good and score some awesome deals. Instead of creating your own stash of products that will expire long before you can even use them, give them to someone who can. Schools always need glue, paper, pencils and art supplies. Women’s shelters always need sanitary products and other personal hygiene things. This takes minimal time and effort on your part and can make a big difference to someone in need.
Share What You Don’t Need
While you’re couponing, you smart, savvy shopper, put some of those to good use in another way: leave them behind for others Have a coupon for a product you don’t need? Stick it next to the item on the shelf and let someone else save a little. It’s not much, but finding a surprise savings of $1 off something they need can make someones day.
Send Expired Coupons to Military Bases
Since you’re already sorting your coupons for a shopping trip to donate freebies to people in need and share your wealth of a stash with others who don’t get the same savings: pull out your expired coupons and send them to overseas military bases. Members of the Armed Forces who are stationed overseas can use these in on-base grocery stores, even the expired ones. Instead of just throwing them out, follow these guidelines and send them to help a family in need.
Text to Give Campaigns and Websites
You can donate money without spending a cent of your own. A variety of websites allow you to play games or simply click on a banner to make a donation, paid for by advertising fees. Here are a few good ones:
Make Your Voice Count
Quickly and easily send a message to your congressional representatives using ResistBot. With ResistBot, you can quickly and easily write to those who represent you about causes you care about. Take the time and guesswork out of reaching your state leaders. Give back to those closest to you by voicing your opinion on issues that matter to those who can make a difference.
A little compliment can go a long way in making someone’s day better. You may tell a woman how gorgeous her dress is, and not know that she spent thirty minutes agonizing over wearing it this morning because she “felt too fat”. Everyone loves a good confidence boost and this is an easy way to give back that’s free.
Start or Give Back to a Little Free Library
Little Free Libraries are great ways to bring the community together through literacy and giving. It can be just as exciting to leave behind a treasured tale as it is to give back to the library.
Share Your Knowledge With Others
Whether it’s through an informational blog or things you post on Facebook, share your expertise. If you know a lot about nutrition, share great articles for others to learn. Maybe you are an experienced breastfeeding mom. Offer resources and guidance to another mom who you see struggling. It’s easy to weave these types on helpful interactions into our everyday lives and give back by enriching the knowledge and experiences of others.
Take an Extra Kid for the Day
Good friends who cared literally saved my life (and possibly my husband and children’s) when I was struggling with postpartum depression. You already have loud, messy kids. What’s one or two more? Offer to take someone’s kid(s) for the day when they’re sick or going through a major life event, have a husband deployed or just need a break.
Say Kind Things to Other Mothers
We already have the internet telling us what shitty, inferior mothers we are. Let’s not even mention your opinionated uncle on Facebook.
Take the time to tell a struggling mom in public what a good job she’s doing. Empathize with her and offer her an example of a time your child was a total jerk and embarrassed the shit out of you and you felt like a complete failure. She may look at you in horror, depending on what you did, but you may help her see she’s not so bad. You’re worse.
How do You Give Back?
In what ways do you volunteer your time and efforts for others? Do you know of any great websites or resources to add to this list?