Wednesday, September 9, 2009

20 Ways to Make a Difference

When we do what we were made to do, mentoring others and finding volunteer opportunities, we discover that we all have resources to create a personal legacy, using our time, our money, and our ideas. Information on how to give back through charitable donations, involvement in non-profits as a volunteer, and starting one’s own business with the intention of giving something of value back to society. (Charity, environmental, philanthropy, volunteering and mentoring.) Here are 20 ideas to get started...

1. Homeless Shelters and Food Banks
Most people think of helping out during the holidays but homeless shelters and food banks can only survive on the assistance and kindness of others. Cleaning and maintaining the facilities, passing out food, using your business skills to organize their inventory and books are just some of the ways to help out. Local businesses and restaurants help with the donation of food or linens to keep up with the demand.

2. Neighborhood Cleanup
Schools, youth organizations, church groups, businesses, neighborhood associations and others in the community can participate in a community and neighborhood cleanup. Plant trees, eliminate graffiti and water lawns to create a cleaner more peaceful neighborhood. This helps decrease crime by building pride and relationships within the community. It also gives an opportunity for the youth to learn about community service and build character by seeing firsthand the results of destruction of property.

3. Habitat for Humanity
Volunteers help build houses for people in need. Build character and friendships a long the way. You can also learn some great skills in the process. They are international so if you live near a big city, chances are there is one local office near you.

4. Make a Wish
The Make a Wish foundation is nationwide. "It gives and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions. There are opportunities to volunteer based on skill set. See to learn more.

5. State and City Programs
Many state parks and beaches offer programs, clean up days or places to volunteer your time and talents. Working outdoors with kids or at the nature park are just some of the choices out there.

6. Hospitals
Hospitals offer a lot for interns and volunteering. You can work with kids who need some good cheer or help keep the facilities clean. This can also offer insight into the medical field for those interested in the demanding career. There are hospitals everywhere so this is a great place to start.

7. The Ronald McDonald House
The Ronald McDonald House is a place where families can go if a child is seriously ill. Instead of a hospital the child is treated in a warm home setting. "These programs provide a bridge to accessible health care and allow families more time together, which helps in the healing process." Volunteers can bring activities and fun to the house or help in the clean up and care of the children.

8. Senior Citizens Centers
Senior citizen centers offer volunteer programs to provide friendship and community activities to senior citizens. Friendship and caring is always needed as well as assistance in the health care of residents.

9. Animal Shelters
For all the pet and animal lovers, animal shelters need volunteers to help take care of animals, keep facilities clean and work with the public. Often the amount of public awareness for shelters is the difference between life and death for many animals. Call a local animal shelter for more information.

10. Special Olympics
"The Special Olympics is an international program of year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental retardation." The site also describes a wide variety of volunteer activities, including sports training, fund raising, administrative help, competition planning and staffing and many more.

11. Mentoring
"Mentoring is the presence of caring adults offering support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples – has proved to be a powerful tool for helping young people fulfills their potential." See for more info and needs near you.

12. Red Cross
The American Red Cross helps people in emergencies whether it's half a million disaster victims or one sick child who needs blood. Volunteer opportunities exist across the country. Contact your local Red Cross for more information.

13. Salvation Army
The Salvation Army provides social services, rehabilitation centers, disaster services, worship opportunities, character building activities for all ages and character building groups and activities for all ages. Volunteer opportunities exist across the country.

14. Go Green
There are many new programs to aide in the clean up and awareness of many environmental issues. Sometimes this work involves beautiful locations and unique animals. Go from energy efficiency production to beach and river clean-up and then save the dolphins. Environmental activism is heroic and worthwhile.

15. Libraries and Literacy
Many libraries need help re-shelving books, running children's programs, making books available to the community, and so on. Volunteers can assist library staff and the public during the Summer Reading Program. Contact a local library for volunteer opportunities in your area.

16. Your Talents
We are all unique and have either natural talent or training that can contribute in some way to many organizations. People skills, technical skills and even artistic skills aide in the awareness and reaction to charities. Most people want to give but need to be inspired or notified to make a difference. They need and call to action and a great speech, poster or website often does the trick.

17. Walk for Charity
Many charities have group events and charity walks. This is a great way to utilize your time and meet other people who take action to make changes in the community. Creating groups is a great way to help out and have a good time.

18. Fundraisers
Organize a special event to bring in donations to important causes. Simple fundraisers include cookie sales, car washes and yard sales. Golf tournaments, poker tournaments and dinner parties are also great ideas to bring attention and needed funding to your cause. The more creative the better.

19. Donate
Find the right charity to put your money into. Find a reputable organization that locates charities that fit your needs. Make sure their books are open that the money is getting to the right people. An organization that we believe in is They connect users to charities and offer businesses the opportunity to sponsor.

20. Start your own group
Schools and community centers provide a great resource to pull people together for a great cause. What cause is important to you? Your ideas and your time are valuable. Use your talents to make a difference and you’ll be amazed at the changes you can make.

View more BetterSelf Blogs at: