5 ways to make a huge impact in 2014 without being a millionaire

Dec 30, 2013
365 Days

When you think of people who outshine others at giving, chances are well-known philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffet immediately come to mind. With their net worth well into the billions, it’s easy to consider them among the people who are making the greatest impact.

Sure, the Gates and Buffet did top Forbes magazine’s 2013 list of The 50 Biggest Givers. However, charities couldn’t survive if they only relied on donations from the super-rich. For example, much smaller donations by ordinary Americans totaled $229 billion in 2008—82 times the amount given by the Bill Gates Foundation that same year. Wendy Smith points out that statistic in her book Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World, stressing that donations as small as US$5 can change and save lives.

As 2014 gets underway, commit to making a huge impact in the lives of people around the world … by starting off small. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Make it automatic. As we all know, good intentions can fade within a few weeks of us singing “Auld Lang Syne” after our New Year celebrations and resolutions. Many organizations, including Kiwanis, offer the option of donations in credit card installments

2. Employer matching donations. Most of us are familiar with the concept of matching donations—when an employer makes a charitable gift equal to the amount donated by an employee. If your company does not have this option, ask your supervisor or human resources department to consider it as a benefit. It effectively doubles your charitable giving.

3. Friend matching donations. Why not implement the same concept with your friends and relatives? For example, if you donate US$10, US$25 or US$50 monthly to The Eliminate Project, imagine the additional impact you can have by asking 10 of your friends to match that amount. Your US$10 monthly donation amounts to US$1,200, while a US$50 monthly donation can generate US$6,000—enough to save or protect the lives of nearly 3,500 women and children susceptible to tetanus. 

4. Pair charitable giving with another New Year’s goal. If you’re planning to shed a few pounds or give up in smoking in 2014, devote the funds you normally would spend on sweets, fast food or cigarettes to your favorite charity. 

5. Make a plan. Just like anything else, you may not accomplish your charitable giving goals without a strategy. At the beginning of the year, commit an hour to studying the causes you are committed to supporting. Once you understand the “why” behind your donation, you’ll likely be more committed to making a difference—and encouraging others to do the same.

Do you have any other ideas on how to make a big difference with charitable giving in 2014? Share them with us in the comments below!  

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