100 Ways To Make A Difference

With the new year approaching, I thought it was a good time to make a list of ways in which we can make a difference in the lives of others. While some of these ideas cost money, most of them are free, I don’t think budgets should be a valid excuse for not helping others.

These ways are not all big, nor will they necessarily change the world, but they may just make someone’s day a whole lot brighter, and that in in itself is magical.

  1. Smile at someone.
  2. Know someone who is a new mum? Surprise them with a basket of goodies a few weeks after baby is born.
  3. Let someone go ahead of you in the line.
  4. Pick up rubbish and pop it in a bin.
  5. Donate your unused baby or kids items to a foster carer in your neighbourhood, and help give someone else a great start in life.
  6. Buy a small gift for someone. Just because.
  7. Put coins into someone else’s parking metre.
  8. Allow someone to help you. We all want to feel needed.
  9. Stay late for a co-worker that needs to leave early.
  10. Create and carry ‘thanks for making my day’ cards to hand out.
  11. Pay a stranger a genuine compliment.
  12. When next in a department store, go and put some money on a strangers lay-by. Just ask the shop assistant for one that is nearly finished being paid off. They’ll get a lovely surprise when it is time for them to collect it.
  13. Donate your unused books to the doctor’s office.
  14. Share your knowledge freely.
  15. Hold the lift doors for someone.
  16. Pay for the meal of the people at the next table.
  17. Mow your neighbours lawn or nature strip.
  18. Listen to someone when they need to talk.
  19. Ask a friend how you can help, and then follow through.
  20. Hold open a door for someone.
  21. Walk your neighbours dog.
  22. Offer to take a photo for a family or couple, so they can all be in the photo.
  23. That person who is never included, you know the one, buy them a coffee.
  24. Give up your seat on the bus or train for someone else.
  25. Take this day not to complain.
  26. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  27. Write an encouraging message on a napkin and leave it on the table to be found.
  28. Say yes to someone.
  29. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
  30. Follow up. Most people receive tremendous support when something first happens, like a cancer diagnosis or divorce. That support tapers down as the months go on, even though things may still be just as tough. Try to follow up every few weeks.
  31. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
  32. Make a helpful introduction.
  33. Bring your neighbours bins in for them.
  34. For every negative thing you see on social media, post something positive.
  35. When a friend makes a meal that you love, ask for the recipe.
  36. Leave painted rocks at a park for children to find and treasure.
  37. Leave a list of books you enjoyed reading inside a library book for the next borrower to find.
  38. Buy a coffee gift card, and pass it to a stranger coming in as you are leaving.
  39. Write an online review for a restaurant you love.
  40. Give old blankets, sheets and towels to the animal shelter.
  41. Volunteer to walk the dogs at the animal shelter.
  42. Make someone else’s bed.
  43. Hand out cold bottles of water to those working outside on a hot day.
  44. Return a strangers shopping trolley to the return bay for them.
  45. Open your home during the holidays to those with no family nearby.
  46. Comment on a favourite blog post, or share it with others. Help someone build up their blog followers.
  47. Express your gratitude.
  48. Forgive someone who has wronged you.
  49. Say thank you.
  50. Say please.
  51. Write a thank you note to someone who changed your life in a positive way.
  52. Tell a friend what you love about their children.
  53. Instead of judging the parent with the yelling or tantrum throwing kids, be kind. Tell them they are doing a good job, offer to walk their shopping trolley to the car, help them feel relieved instead of embarrassed.
  54. Reconnect with an old friend.
  55. Buy a non perishable item each payday, and put it aside. At the end of the year, you will have a nice stash to donate to the local Salvation Army hamper drive.
  56. Surprise an acquaintance with a some happy mail – a movie ticket, a new book.
  57. Give someone a gift card that you don’t intend to use.
  58. Water your neighbours lawn.
  59. Help someone cross the street safely.
  60. Let someone else pick what to watch on TV.
  61. Buy bottles of bubbles and take them to the local paediatric ward and hand them out to the kids to enjoy.
  62. Help someone struggling with their shopping bags.
  63. Help someone who looks lost.
  64. Slow down so that someone can merge in front of you in traffic.
  65. Send an actual letter to a friend, tell them why they are so important to you.
  66. Hide small change in random places for strangers to find.
  67. Give your umbrella to a stranger.
  68. Pop a plastic bag over someone’s bicycle seat when it starts raining, now they won’t have to sit on a wet seat to get home.
  69. Offer to tutor a student who is struggling with school.
  70. What skill do you have that someone else doesn’t? Can you knit? Bake bread? Handmake something and deliver it to a friend.
  71. Donate a pallet of bottled water to your local volunteer firefighter unit.
  72. Thank your garbage man.
  73. Send a friend a print of a photo you took of their child.
  74. Write an encouraging note for someone you know is having a hard time.
  75. Write positive notes on sticky notes and stick them up on the mirror in public bathrooms and the workplace.
  76. Write a thank you card to the office cleaner.
  77. Cook a family dinner for a friend who is ill.
  78. Offer to push someone on the swing set.
  79. Offer to watch someone’s child during the school holidays.
  80. Buy or pick a bunch of flowers and hand out individual stems to passers by.
  81. Volunteer to teach a class at the local library or community centre. You are bound to have a skill others would like to learn.
  82. Donate all your empty cardboard boxes and milk bottles to a local preschool for arts and crafts.
  83. Buy a toy or book every payday, and put it aside. Once Christmas comes around, you will have a lovely stack to donate to the local Salvation Army toy drive.
  84. Sit with a friend. In this busy world, it is nice to just sit in companionship.
  85. Offer to get some friends together and go sing Christmas carols at local nursing homes and hospitals.
  86. Can you play an instrument? Why not visit a sick patient and play them a song or two to brighten their day.
  87. Listen without interrupting.
  88. Don’t wait until someone approaches you. If you feel someone is struggling with something, ask them if they are ok. If they want to talk they will, if they don’t, they will tell you they are fine. Either way, they will know you care enough to ask the question.
  89. When you see something good, share it. The world needs more good news.
  90. Share overheard compliments.
  91. Be kind to yourself, it promotes happiness.
  92. Encourage someone to pursue their dreams.
  93. Help someone get their pram up or down the stairs.
  94. Volunteer to read to the elderly in nursing homes who may struggle with vision.
  95. Do you have your wedding dress just sitting there? Why not donate it to Angel Gowns, an organisation that uses wedding dresses to make funeral gowns for babies that are stillborn.
  96. Can you sew? Do you have fabrics left over from other projects? Why not make up some crazy quilts or curtains for the local nursing home or hospital, or some head caps for doctors or cancer patients.
  97. If you see someone drop something, pick it up for them.
  98. Pay someone’s bus fare.
  99. Tie a large bucket of water to your fence, on the nature strip side, for dogs out for a walk.
  100. After a storm or particularly bad weather, check in with your neighbours to see if you can help with debris clean up.