November 1, 2021
We’re dealing with a lot right now: a global pandemic, an environmental crisis, social unrest and the Great Resignation. Scrolling through more depressing headlines won’t change anything, but there’s something that just might change everything — doing One Good Thing. It sounds almost too simple, but what if that one action inspired another and then another until millions of people were doing Good Things?
We’d have a bona fide movement on our hands — at a time when we’re all searching for a greater sense of purpose and an opportunity to spread some positivity in the world. We are the antidote, and it all starts with that One Good Thing.
Whether you write a nice card to a stranger, watch a 15-minute documentary on racial injustice or donate $5 to a cause that matters to you, every action has an impact.
If you need a little inspiration, we came up with 50 creative ideas to do good. Choose the way(s) that are meaningful to you and go for it. (Be sure to check with an organization first to confirm its current needs and protocol.) Keep the momentum going — share this post with your family, friends and coworkers!
Bonus: One easy way to do good is to donate to a cause you care about on Benevity’s Community Impact Portal. Be sure to share your Good Thing on social using the #DoOneGoodThing hashtag.
Give New Life to Old Things
1. Donate clothing, furniture and household items to people in need
Your gently used items are appreciated by those who otherwise may not be able to afford them. Women’s emergency shelters and immigrant programs are especially interested in items to help set up new homes.
2. Tie a clean scarf to a tree with a personal note
This less traditional way of donating items is creative and heartwarming, in more ways than one! Leave a note to let people know they can take the scarf if they need it.
3. Bring stuffed animals to an animal shelter
Stuffed animals aren’t just for humans. Our furry friends love them, too, and animal nonprofits often need them and other supplies.
4. Give old books to a local library
By giving a few of your old books to the library, you’re allowing the whole community an opportunity to enjoy them! You can also set up a virtual book drive with Reach Out and Read.
Put Others First
5. Give to a friend’s favorite cause
Supporting a cause close to a friend’s heart shows that you care about what they care about! Plus, you’ll get to learn about a new cause.
6. Give a vaccine
Low-income countries lack equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, and the results are devastating. Donate just $5 to the WHO Go Give One campaign to buy a vaccine for a human in need.
8. Deliver gifts to kids in the hospital
Spending time in the hospital is tough on everyone — especially children. Put a smile on their face by delivering small gifts! (Be sure to check the hospital’s wish list and delivery protocols first.)
9. Sponsor an animal in your friend’s name
Double the good feels! You’ll help an animal in need and honor a friend. You can get started with Best Friends Animal Society.
10. Sign up for a first aid class so you can help in emergency situations
Have confidence knowing you can take action when someone is injured. Plus, it’s a practical certification that can save lives!
11. Deliver holiday decorations to nursing homes or families in need
For some, traditional holiday decorations or treats can make all the difference — especially when they might not be able to afford it.
12. Organize a blood drive with your neighbors or coworkers
Giving blood is a pretty big deal … you’re literally saving lives! It’s a quick process and you usually leave with a treat in hand.
13. Educate coworkers on Indigenous issues and the path to reconciliation
The path to reconciliation starts with education. Encourage your friends, family, coworkers and social followers to enroll in courses on Indigenous history like this one from the University of Alberta, watch documentaries and/or invite them to participate in a guided tour of a residential school.
14. Start an employee resource group (ERG) at your company
Gather together with like-minded coworkers to make a difference and support causes you all care about.
15. Raise money for a food bank (money goes further than goods)
Ask around and see who’d like to donate, or work with your leadership team to see if you can make it a company-wide initiative.
16. Amplify BIPOC creators on social media
Whether you’re sharing an educational video or linking to a BIPOC-owned small business, use your voice to share theirs. (Then go support their businesses.)
17. Send cards or packages to health-care workers
These pandemic heroes have shown up every day, putting themselves and their loved ones in harm’s way.
18. Write letters to children at your local hospital
Spread hope, joy and magic to hospitalized children with a card full of uplifting messages!
19. Make cards or care packages for seniors in a nursing home
Seniors are often the most isolated demographic, and your card may be the only one they receive this year, so make it extra special! Check out organizations like DOROT or Seniors Secret Service.
20. Have a craft or bake sale and give the funds to your favorite charity
Turn on your favorite tunes and start creating! If you have any leftovers, you can donate them or give them to friends and family.
21. Build a Little Free Library in your neighborhood
We’re willing to bet you have books sitting on your shelf that others would love to read. And if your neighbors start adding their books, you might find something new for your collection, too. Find out more about Little Free Library.
22. Contribute to a community art mural
Channel your inner Picasso and use your skills to make your community that much more beautiful! It’s the gift that keeps on giving since people can enjoy your art year-round.
23. Wrap donated presents
If you have a flair for curling ribbon and folding with precision, or just want to up your wrapping game, volunteer to wrap the toys collected for a nonprofit’s toy drive.
Make It a Group Effort
25. Host a knitting party to make scarves for people at a homeless shelter
Make chilly days a little warmer for those in your community who need it most. Want to send the warmth across the globe? You can also donate directly to Knit-a-square to support children in South Africa.
26. Host a bingo night for seniors at the nursing home
Everyone loves playing games, so here’s a good deed where everyone wins!
27. Adopt a family with a group of friends
Support low-income families and help them get back on their feet. You can find programs like this through your local Salvation Army or organizations like Hope for Children.
28. Make birthday bags
Put together gift bags full of kids’ birthday supplies, like cake mix, candles and balloons, and drop them off at your local food bank as an extra surprise for a kiddo who deserves a special day.
29. Gather colleagues and collect wish list items for a local charity
Many local charities publish wish lists online (and many have direct buying links). If you’re in doubt, give them a call. You can also support Make-A-Wish on a local or international level.
Lend a Hand
30. Volunteer a morning at your local food bank or soup kitchen
There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup served with love. Help dish out food or prep meals to make someone’s day brighter (and warmer!).
31. Make sandwiches or bagged lunches for a homeless shelter or school lunch program
Many hands make light work. Gather friends, family or colleagues and make an assembly line!
32. Build hygiene or care kits with shampoo, toothbrushes, combs, etc. to donate to homeless shelters
Start with the unused samples you have at home. Add extra items to your grocery list or check out the dollar store. You can also donate products directly to organizations like Beauty Bus Foundation, which provides beauty services for seriously ill individuals and their caregivers.
33. Clean up a park
It’s as easy as bringing an extra bag with you, and it’s easy to stay socially distanced!
34. Rake leaves, shovel snow or wash windows for your neighbor
Imagine the delight! You’re likely already doing these seasonal chores, so why not make your neighbor’s day brighter with a small gesture?
35. Spend time with animals at your local shelter
There are so many animals out there just waiting for your love! Plus, spending time with animals can lower your stress levels.
36. Foster an animal
Take the Goodness one step further and foster one of your fuzzy friends until they find their fur-ever home.
37. Be the eyes for a visually impaired person
Lend your eyes to help low-vision or blind people lead more independent lives with apps like Be My Eyes.
38. Fundraise by auctioning off your skills-based services
Have a skill that’s in demand, or one you’d like to improve? Auction it off to your coworkers or friends and donate the funds to a nonprofit of your choice.
39. Become a Big Brother or Sister
Mentor youth and help them reach their potential through a one-on-one relationship. After all, time is one of the greatest gifts you can give! Sign up at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or Canada.
40. Share a meal with a stranger
Dining out just got better! When you order a Mealshare item at a participating restaurant, it donates $1 toward a meal for youth in need — and Mealshare also provides a meal!
41. Loan your power tools out for the day
They’re sitting there just waiting to be used! Loan them out to a friend, and if you’re feeling extra helpful, you can help them with their project.
42. Be a couch-surfing host
Sharing your home can make a big difference for someone traveling. You’ll probably also hear some interesting stories and maybe even make a new friend. Get started at Couchsurfing.
43. Return lost items
Taking the time to return a lost item to its owner likely means more than you know!
44. Write a positive review of a local business
A positive review can mean a lot to a small business, especially when many have been struggling. Take Goodness one step further by recommending the business to a friend or your social followers.
45. Encourage others
Grab your sticky notes and get down to business! Leaving encouraging notes around the office or your neighborhood will help keep everyone in high spirits.
46. Embrace random opportunities
Kindness doesn’t have to be planned — get random! See someone struggling with their bags? Lend a hand. Waiting in line? Let the busy family go ahead of you. Such kind gestures will surely inspire more people to do good.
47. Smile at someone
You can make the world a friendlier place with this small gesture. Plus, it’s easy and free!
Create a Domino Effect
48. Give the gift of giving with charitable gift cards
Spread Goodness by treating a friend (or even a stranger!) to a charitable gift card so they can give back to a cause they care about.
49. Shop local, feed local
Purchase gift cards from local restaurants or food markets, and donate them to people who need a little help putting food on the table.
50. Participate in the One Good Thing Challenge
What if you did One Good Thing today? And what if it inspired another and another, until millions (or heck, billions) of people are doing Good Things? That’s the idea behind the One Good Thing Challenge and anyone can participate. Join the movement and help us reach our collective goal of 12 million Good Things by Dec. 31, 2021.
Check out the Benevity Goodness Calendar for key awareness dates when you can put these ideas to action (and help keep giving top of mind throughout the year)!