Americans donated more than $410 billion to charities in 2017. While that’s great, the number of donors has actually declined. Instead, wealthy donors are donating more.
The good news is that you don’t need a six-figure income to give back. Sure, a check is great, but many places need people to volunteer time as well. You don’t have to give cash to make a difference in your community.
Read on to find out more about five unique ways to give back.
Foster Dogs or Cats
Millions of dogs and cats enter animal shelters each year, and advocates know that the supply of strays will always outweigh demand.
If you like dogs and cats, then you probably already have at least one. But even in that case, you can still make a difference by fostering a stray dog or cat.
Most foster placements last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. They’ll leave your home once they find a permanent family.
Worried about money? Try to work with a rescue group that provides you with free pet food and supplies.
Teach Kids about Art
A lot of schools have turned their focus to STEM subjects. Educators have good reasons for doing that, but kids still need to learn about the arts and humanities. You can help teach them.
Look for local organizations devoted to teaching kids how to read, write stories, or draw cartoons. Giving back to the community via art means helping kids become happier, well-rounded human beings.
One of the best ways to help the less fortunate? Leave your comfort zone. In fact, leave your country and volunteer overseas.
For instance, you can fight global poverty by working as a volunteer in India. Taking a trip like that requires more money than driving across town, so you’ll want to work with a reputable organization that limits its fees.
These trips also take longer to plan. You’ll need a valid passport, for one. Depending on where you’re going, you may also need to receive certain immunizations.
Visit a Nursing Home
Friendship offers proven health benefits. Unfortunately, elderly people are more likely to feel isolated. Such isolation is bad for their physical and emotional well-being.
You can fix some of that by calling up a local nursing or retirement home. Ask about their volunteer program. With any luck, you can set up a regular time to come by and socialize with the residents.
Donate to a Library
Reading makes a lot of us happy, but what should we do with our books once we’re done reading them? In some cases, your local library would be happy to take them.
Make sure to call and ask ahead of time, though. Libraries can’t accept every single book donation. At this point, they likely have enough copies of the Harry Potter series to last until the next millennium.
If they don’t need books, though, you can donate your time to something like an after-school reading program.
More Ways to Give Back
The above list is only the beginning of ways to give back. As you experiment with ways to give to others, you’ll probably find one or two activities that feel especially important to you on a personal level.
When you volunteer, you aren’t just doing something good for others. You’re also improving your own mental health. For more mental health tips, check out our blog post on that topic.