Make a difference in the new year

Check out a few ways to give back. Volunteer, donate and make a difference.

If you’re like many people, charitable giving is something you think about at year-end. Donating before the close of the tax year may be part of your smart financial plan, and philanthropy can feel top-of-mind around the holidays—but it doesn’t have to be limited to one season. Real differences for the causes and communities you care about can happen year ‘round. As you make your New Year’s resolutions, consider adding a little generosity to your list with one of these ideas for giving back.

Donate by doing good

Your time and talents can be just as valuable as your pocket change.

Know a charity whose site or social media could use some work? You can “donate” your skills for a few hours or hop on a long-term project. Reach out and offer your computing capabilities or social media savvy. Some charities even look for “ambassadors” to help take pictures at events and spread the word on social. Or, if the digital world is your playground, spend a weekend hunkered down with fellow coders at a charity hackathon. A quick search will help you find the perfect charitable fit for your interests and skill sets.

Try volunteering virtually. Organizations, particularly small ones, recognize the value in remote volunteers. Many require remote, pro-bono work—like making calls, writing thank yous, or even writing grants. You can help out by sharing your skills from the comfort of your couch.


Make it your resolution to have fun while giving back.

Stash any pre-conceived notions you may have about fundraising—it’s a great way to have a good time, especially if you’re with the right crowd. Make it a social event and enlist your friends and family to join your efforts for awesome activities such as a mud run or warrior dash. Or, try throwing caution to the icy-cold wind and dunking yourself in frosty waters for a polar bear plunge. You can get your friends and family to pledge donations for every second spent submerged… or pull them into the water with you.

Shop & gift for a cause

Make your purchases and presents more meaningful this year.

There are a ton of companies and organizations that sell products that give back to communities in need. For example, if you’re looking to upgrade your sock collection with a bold pair, look to purchase from a company that give a new pair to a homeless person as well. Grab unique, handcrafted home décor items from certain retailers, and you’ll be supporting communities all over the world. You can even purchase and donate life-changing livestock to families in need with several international organizations.

Some non-profits also have quick, easy ways for you to give meaningful gifts to the people in your life. Capital One grantee Kiva, a crowdfunding platform for social good, offers gift cards that your friends, colleagues and family can redeem to loan money to more than 2.2 million entrepreneurs in 86 countries, changing someone else’s life — halfway around the world or even in their own backyard. As the borrower repays, your Kiva Card recipient will get updates on their progress, and they can even relend the money to other borrowers.

“The spirit of giving is a powerful force for good,” said Premal Shah, co-founder and president. “A beautiful aspect of the Kiva Card is that the recipient can lend their support to people they connect with and the $25 can be loaned again and again, extending that spirit year-round for years to come.”

Tech that makes giving easy

Today, you don’t have to leave your house to make a difference. Technology has made it easier and faster to figure out where you want to affect change and how.

No matter how you choose to give back this year, remember that giving can be much more fun than just cutting a check. Take advantage of online resources, do your research and give in the way that suits you.

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