How a Little Can Do a Lot

Charity pictureRecently, billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates started something called the “Giving Pledge”, promising to give at least half of their substantial fortunes to charity.  For the small-time philanthropist who doesn’t have untold billions to donate to causes, this can feel a bit discouraging.  However, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute small amounts of money to worthy causes, and that money can go a long way.  This is particularly true in the age of social media, where like-minded people from around the world are able to seamlessly connect with each other.  Here are four different ways that you yourself can make a huge impact with a small donation, taken from the personal finance blog bankrate:

Join a “giving circle”: These groups will pool their money and then share the task of selecting which causes they support.  Since the funds are pooled, they can make a much bigger impact than an individual donation.  There are hundreds of these across the country, but if you can’t find one you like, you can always start your own.  

Microphilanthropy: The site pledge4good.com allows users to set up “pledging systems” for friends and family to give small amounts of money to a specific cause.  They allow individuals to easily raise funds from various people to magnify the impact of smaller donations.  

Make a microloan: “Microlenders” don’t actually have to give their money away to causes, they simply lend it.  A $25 loan, for instance, can empower an impoverished entrepreneur in a third-world country to start and maintain a business.  Nonprofit microlender Kiva, for instance, has awarded millions in small loans to impoverished people in remote parts of the world since launching in 2005.  

Toys For Tots: This is a pretty well-known and well-recognized charity, which allows you to make a huge difference without too much money.  The Holiday season is a long way off, but it’s a great way to make a difference for a child without having to pay too much.  

Serve a soldier: The USO Wishbook allows you to make a small donation to help an American military member.  A donation of $15, for instance, will provide a care package for a service member to get through the initial days of deployment.  And $25 provides a calling card for a phone call home.  Small gifts, but ones that make a huge difference.