Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.
When the world feels chaotic and I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of need, I have to believe in the ripple effect. Whatever I can do to pay it forward within my own community can make an impact here and now, and ripple its way to the rest of the world.
What does “pay it forward” mean, anyway? I think of it as making an investment in the future through an act of compassion and selflessness. It could be a one-time action, or an ongoing gift of your time to a project, committee, or person. Invest in the future of your community with these ten more ways to pay it forward.
I recently listened to a great Ted Radio Hour show about citizen science. Citizen science projects are activities sponsored by a wide variety of organizations so everyday people like you and I can proactively contribute to scientific research. Check out these projects in which you can participate.
Plant a Tree
Whether you live in the city or the country, trees help sustain life worldwide. Our forests can’t speak for themselves, so we need to be their ambassadors. You can get involved locally with tree planting efforts, or check out one of these international organizations.
Anonymous Love Letters
Write a love letter to an unknown soul, using uplifting words of encouragement, and leave it out “in the wild” for someone to find. Leave it on a store shelf, in a coffee shop, or on someone’s car. Your kind words will reach the right person who needs them. Check out the beautifully printed stationery from The Love Letter Library, designed with envelopes that read, “If you find this, then it belongs to you!”
Promote Local Businesses on Social Media
Social media connections are a powerful force. Discover small businesses in your neighborhood that use Facebook or Instagram and give them a shout out on your own social media pages. As a small business owner, I feel blessed when clients, patrons, and friends publicly share their positive experience with others.
Library Literacy Program
Illiteracy is a reality within our own communities. Local libraries often offer tutor training for you to be able help an adult in need of these skills. Just imagine what a powerful, life-changing impact you could have helping someone learn to read and write.
Offer Professional Skills Pro Bono
There will always be an organization that can use your skills, whatever they may be. Great at bookkeeping? How about photography? Are you an expert in legal services, or landscape design? Search VolunteerMatch.com to find opportunities that match your skills.
Tutor in STEM Subjects
Enthusiasm for STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) has been rapidly increasing. If you’re passionate about these areas of study, be a cheerleader in your community for the young people (and adults!) who are interested in learning, too. You never know what future astronauts, doctors, and researchers you’ll be inspiring.
Join a Board
This is a great way to get involved in a leadership position where you can have an impact on the present and future activities of a group. Boards thrive on diversity, hiring a range of people from all walks of life. Gathering together a broad base of professional experience can bring new life to an organization.
Volunteer at a Hospital
Did you know that many of the people you see in scrubs at a hospital are volunteers? Hospitals depend heavily on their volunteers across all departments. They perform a wide range of services, such as checking in patients, guiding visitors to their destinations, running errands for doctors or administrators, and keeping family updated on surgery progress.
Lend an Ear
This is the simplest way to show compassion. Sometimes our friends, family, or other loved ones simply need to talk things out. Pour a cuppa tea, like this Happy Hour Herbal Blend, and make space for them to open up to you. Listening means no interrupting, and no offering unsolicited advice. When you do respond, keep it neutral and comforting, like, “I understand this is a difficult time. I’m here for you. Have a scone.”
I hope you find some inspiration in these ten more ways to pay it forward. Use your imagination, find out what your community needs, match that with your skills and interests, and you’ll be a future-investor in no time.