10 Ways to Make a Difference Without Donating Money

Often, big game-changing efforts start with one simple act or idea. Every day, millions of people initiate great change with small conscious decisions to help someone else. You don’t need a lot of money to make a difference. In fact, you don’t have to donate any at all. If you’d like to make a difference in your community today, but don’t have the funds to donate to a nonprofit at this time, here are 10 simple ways you can make an impact.

How to Make a Difference

1. Donate Blood 

Every two seconds, a person needs blood, and this year alone, the Red Cross reported a 10% increase in red cell demand for hospitals with trauma centers. If you or a loved one has ever endured trauma or undergone extensive medical treatment, you may have seen the powerful impact a blood transfusion offers. Donating blood saves lives in your community and beyond. You may not see whose life you affect, but just know that this act is always appreciated by your medical community. 


2. Volunteer to help a senior 

Whether it’s taking out the trash, doing yard work, or decluttering an area of their home, make a conscious choice to help a senior or elderly neighbor. Take it a step further and spend some time with the person you help, too. With the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to remember that social isolation was particularly distressing for many seniors. Isolation may have even contributed to poor health outcomes for some. Reaching out to offer a helping hand is great, but the lift a senior can feel with some personal engagement is just as important. And you never know what you might learn, too! 

3. Tutor someone 

Every one of us has an area of expertise. Regardless of whether it’s math, writing, science, music, or some other discipline, you can offer your services to a nonprofit or simply help someone in your neighborhood. If you work with a nonprofit agency that connects tutors to those who need help, take it a step further and help the organization recruit other experts in your area. Talk to prospects about the benefits you gain by helping others this way. 

4. Volunteer for a community initiative

Every community has unique needs. There may be a problem with affordable housing availability, healthcare gaps, food insufficiency, or other issues. You can share your time with a volunteer effort like Habitat for Humanity or another organization working to solve a specific concern in your area. If you’re passionate about early childhood education, volunteer for a nonprofit that supports educational efforts for young parents. If you care about the environment, help an environmental group with outreach and education. Find out about a known need in your community and ask how you can help. 

5. Support an arts organization 

The arts get the short end of the funding stick often. If you can’t give money to a community arts organization, your time is valued as well. You don’t have to be an artist yourself or an expert on any particular art form. You just have to be willing to help. The local theatre group may need ushers for performances. An arts education group may need help with funding outreach or volunteers who can help set up and take down exhibits. Organizations involved in the arts have no shortage of needs. Just ask. 

6. Organize or participate in a beautification project 

It’s satisfying to inject new life into a neglected space or to simply clean up an area of your community. You can initiate a litter collection effort, get involved in a graffiti removal project, or plant flowers or trees in your neighborhood. You probably know of areas in your community that can use some TLC, find out how you can help deliver it! 

7. Become a mentor 

You can mentor in a variety of ways — one-on-one, in groups, or you can even distance mentor someone in a nearby community whom you may engage with virtually. There are also several different types of mentoring roles you can take on. You can help people looking for career guidance, children in foster care who need a consistent positive presence, or you can get involved with nonprofits that target high-potential individuals who need structure and guidance to pursue their dreams or to achieve their potential. 

8. Sign up for a walk or run 

If you’re athletically inclined, sign up for a 5K or 10K walk or run. You can get some exercise and if you’re low on funds, ask others around you to sponsor you. They can contribute by simply paying your entry fee or pay more based on your performance. Runners or walkers are often surprised to learn how supportive their community is when they ask for sponsors.

9. Volunteer with the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts 

These groups are among the longest-running values-based organizations out there. Teaching kids about character, practicality, how to overcome challenges, teamwork, and the sheer power of civic engagement is rewarding work. And you’ll love seeing how young boys and girls develop into mature, thoughtful, responsible young adults as you work with them. 

10. Perform random acts of kindness 

In tough times, it’s so heart-warming to see people engage in random acts of kindness. But in our post-Covid world, there’s a great opportunity to keep the kindness going. Challenge yourself to initiate one random act of kindness each day for a week. Then, see if you can extend it to two weeks or a month. Get friends involved and create a kindness challenge. Kindness is teachable, and contagious and it even has health benefits

Even the smallest gestures of kindness can be powerful. Let someone in front of you in a line, buy coffee for someone you don’t know, give a business a positive online review, leave change behind at a vending machine or check-out station at the grocery store, or just hold the door for someone, smile and wish them a good day!= 


There’s no shortage of ways to make an impact today. If you’re still not sure about the right opportunity for you, ask your neighbors for ideas or you can even attend community meetings to learn more about needs in your area. Don’t have neighbors? No problem! Visit UncommonGood to learn more about nonprofits doing great things.


Get Involved

By UncommonGood

November 30, 2023

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