How to Be Generous

We all admire generous people—so why can it be so tough to become a more giving person? With busy schedules and ingrained habits, making time for generosity may feel like a challenge. But there are actually tons of quick (and free!) ways to give back to your community and totally make a difference. Below, we've pulled together a list of ways you can give back right this second. To learn how you can become a more generous person, read on!


[Edit]Be generous with your gratitude.

  1. A simple “thank you” can mean the world. Donations and charity work are great ways to give back, but just offering your genuine appreciation for friends and family can boost their mood, too. Plus, gratitude also improves your relationships—and practicing thanks can also make you more generous over time. It's a win-win-win![1]
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    • You can thank someone any time, for anything. Send your mom a text out of the blue: “Was just thinking about everything you’ve done for me. Thank you so much.”
    • When you notice that your son took out the trash, leave him a note on his desk with his favorite candy bar: “Thank you so much, honey! You rock.”
    • If your partner listens to you vent about a tough problem, thank them for their empathetic ear. “I hope you know how much I appreciate this—I really needed to talk.”

[Edit]Flatter the people around you.

  1. People underestimate the power of sincere compliments. By letting someone know that their hair shines or their work rocks, you can transform their day, boost their mood, and raise their confidence. Offer specific, genuine compliments regularly. Just remember to keep them appropriate; admiring someone’s looks in the workplace, for instance, isn’t a good idea. [2]
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    • Let a young person in your life know that you’re proud of them: “I hope you know how awesome I think you are. You’re so passionate about science—it’s amazing.”
    • Tell your cashier that they have a great look: “I couldn’t love those nails more. You have such a fun, unique style!”
    • Leave a fun note on your neighbor’s door: “Your Halloween decorations look AMAZING. I couldn’t believe it. So good!”

[Edit]Perform random acts of kindness.

  1. You don’t need an excuse or organized event to give someone joy. Random acts of kindness are all about sudden inspiration, good intentions, and getting creative. Take a second to think—what totally unprompted thing could you do right now to brighten someone’s day? Not only will your gesture make their week, but it could also inspire them to pay it forward, too.[3]
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    • Make a heartfelt card for people in hospice care. If you have kids, involve them. Not only will you be teaching generosity, but a child’s creativity can make these cards even more touching.
    • Go through the drive-through and pay for the person behind you. Your kindness will make their day, and they may even start a chain that pays it forward!
    • Baked goods or flowers can totally brighten someone's day! Drop off a little treat with your new neighbors or your morning bus driver.

[Edit]Donate blood.

  1. A single blood donation can save the lives of 3 people. It’s pretty amazing—go into your local blood drive to give some blood, enjoy juice and cookies, and walk away knowing that you just did some serious good. If you're feeling inspired, visit the American Red Cross to learn more about how you can host a blood drive event.[4]
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    • Typically, you have to be over 110 pounds (49.9 kg), at least 17 years of age, and in good health to donate.
    • In most cases, you'll have to wait 56 days in between each blood donation.

[Edit]Volunteer in your community.

  1. Charities need enthusiastic volunteers to help achieve their goals. That could be you! Think of an issue that you’re passionate about or a need that you see in your local community. Then, search for charities that aim to help (if you're not sure where to look, start online!). Donating your time doesn’t just make you feel amazing, but it’s also a great way to give back.[5]
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    • Care about the environment? Join in on a weekend beach clean.
    • Maybe you’re passionate about puppies. Reach out to your local humane society and see if they need some extra help.
    • You might live in a city where many homeless people are struggling. Homeless shelters are always looking for kindhearted, helping hands.

[Edit]Donate money to a charity you respect.

  1. Giving your own savings to a worthy cause is an extremely generous act. Donate what you can to organizations that you admire. Your donation will allow tons of passionate, knowledgeable people to continue doing good in the world and helping solve major issues facing people today. Remember that even a little can make a big difference. And finally, vet the charities you're donating to:[6]
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    • Research your choice of charity first (there are scammers out there looking to take generous peoples’ money!)
    • Look out for look-alikes—some organizations will try to scam you by choosing similar names to well-known orgs
    • If you’re unsure, ask the charity for written materials on their programs and finances

[Edit]Use your skills and expertise to help.

  1. Your experience and knowledge are valuable assets. So, if you can, share them with others—work as a mentor, help someone prepare for a job in your field, or volunteer to teach. With your skillset, you may be in a unique position to be a huge help to relevant organizations.[7]
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    • Maybe you played a sport in college—like soccer. You can volunteer to coach a team of young players looking to improve!
    • Are you a math whiz? Speak to the schools in your area and ask if they need any extra volunteer tutors.
    • If you made it far in a tough career, you can help mentor someone just getting started. Maybe your friend of a friend wants to break into tech—coach them through the process!
    • You could even volunteer with wikiHow. Write an article or edit existing articles to help us teach anyone how to do anything (for free!).

[Edit]Praise a cafe, artist, or business on social media.

  1. Positive posts are free, easy, and can be a huge help to new businesses. All over your town, people are busy trying to make their dreams come true. A little visibility can mean the world—so if you experience someone’s work and think it’s great, be loud about it. Take to social media and write a rave review. Not only will you make someone’s day—you could help them take off![8]
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    • Maybe you saw a small, local artist perform; take to Twitter! “I just saw The Rotaries in San Jose. SO good. Everyone needs to check them out ASAP!”
    • If you just ate a new restaurant that wowed you, share their Facebook page: “Just tried Jeff’s Grille and it was to die for! Stop in before they’re booked!”

[Edit]Check in on someone who might need help.

  1. Show empathy to someone struggling, and you could make a huge difference. Mental illness or major life events can take a serious toll on a friend's well-being. Listen to them, celebrate their successes, and continue to check on them—because this can bring more stability and connection into their life. Look out for signs that someone might be struggling, then take action to help:[9]
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    • Help them find top resources and professionals who can help
    • Research therapists that they can consider seeing
    • When they have a “win,” even if it’s small, make a big deal out of it: "You finally cleaned out that closet? Wow, congrats! I know that was stressing you out."

[Edit]Spread good news.

  1. Sometimes the world can feel a little dark—brighten someone’s day with a positive. There are always great things happening out there—in your community, in the world, or even in your circle of friends. Do what you can to make sure the people around you get to experience some of those highlights. This can make a huge difference, and it’s super easy to do![10]
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    • Research good news happening in the world today (Was a cat saved from a tree? Did a scientist discover a new species?) and share it freely in every conversation.
    • If someone you know gets a great job or an award, spread the word. Not only will this help create some positivity, but it’ll also make your friend feel celebrated.
    • Send a tip in to your local news station. If something amazing is happening, your city should know! Reach out to your station to fill them in on the news.