18 Amazing Ways To Give Back With $5 Or More


Whether you have a few bucks or a hundred-dollar bill, here are easy ways to help out.

By Arianna Davis

If you have $5...

Help send an anti-bullying DVD produced by the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign Foundation to an elementary school teacher.

Begin a new chapter for children who live in rural Africa by paying the shipping costs for ten gently used children's books collected in U.S. drives.

If you have $6...

Buy a sustainable bamboo-handled toothbrush through Smile Squared, and the organization will give another to a needy child in one of 20 countries around the world.

If you have $8...
national zoo panda
Kung fu, schmung fu! Donate an art supply kit so one of the giant pandas at the National Zoo can, yes, paint pictures -- a mentally stimulating activity thought to improve the well-being of animals living in captivity.

If you have $10...

Supply energy bars and bottled water to disabled veterans training for handcycle races.

If you have $15...

Light up the life of an impoverished family: Replace a potentially toxic kerosene lantern in one of 27 countries worldwide with a rechargeable solar lantern.

If you have $20...
clean water africa
Give a reliable source of clean water to one person by contributing to the construction of a new well, pipeline, or purification system in Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, or the Caribbean.

If you have $25...

Outfit a child facing chronic illness or disability with a handmade costume he or she can wear during an interactive theatrical performance at one of more than 50 hospitals, schools, and community centers in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Provide a puppy kit for a new service dog (who'll guide a visually impaired owner); kit includes a leash, a collar, food, and bowls.

If you have $30...

Buy a hive for a rural family (in one of more than 40 countries, including the United States) so they can profit from beekeeping, which can double fruit and vegetable production.

If you have $38...
ocean underwater fish
Save half a square mile of ocean from overfishing and pollution by funding Conservation International's educational seminars and efforts to protect threatened ecosystems all over the world.

If you have $50...

Provide silk-screen ink or other art supplies for ten participants in craft workshops held by the Laundromat Project, a nonprofit that brings arts education to one of the busiest locations in low-income communities: the local washeteria.

Pick up the tab for the delivery of one instrument, like a guitar or a saxophone, that will be donated to an underfunded school or music program.

If you have $55...

Cover one year of medical expenses -- including vaccines, sanitary napkins, and dental care -- for an aspiring female student in a developing country like Nepal, so she can attend school regularly and become the first in her family to graduate secondary school.

If you have $60...

Supply meals to a household in one of the programs at the New York Foundling, a nonprofit helping underserved families and developmentally disabled adults.

Plant 100 trees that can produce staple foods, like avocados and bananas, or provide much-needed shade for other crops in one of the world's rural communities.

If you have $80...
appalachian trail
Protect one mile of the Appalachian Trail for 24 days by picking up transportation and equipment costs for volunteers who gather trash and care for flora along the route.

If you have $100...

Help grant a terminally ill adult's wish -- whether it's visiting a loved one who lives out of state or taking a child on a long-hoped-for trip to Disneyland.

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Are You Crafty?
Surround a sick child with comfort and warmth by volunteering as a "blanketeer" for Project Linus. Knitters, quilters, and sewers have made nearly five million blankets, which are donated to children's hospitals, shelters, and service agencies. ProjectLinus.org
Can You Carry A Tune? Share the song in your heart by belting out a ballad or playing an instrument at hospital patients' bedsides with Musicians on Call. Do you get stage fright? Volunteer to escort the artists on their rounds. MusiciansOnCall.org
Are You Sporty?
Grab your whistle and head to the YMCA. Local branches rely on volunteers year-round to run low-cost youth sports programs, from T-ball for tots to basketball for teens. YMCA.net
Do You Have Writing Chops?
Help kids and teens get beyond the grammar grind of there, they're and their. Tutors with 826 National chapters assist students with their writing, giving them new ways to express themselves and succeed in school. 826national.org
How About Computer Skills?
Help your community by joining civic-minded techies in the Code for America Brigade. Local groups turn government data on education, crime, public transportation, city services, and spending into online tools for the public -- for instance, an app that maps all public art in the area. CodeForAmerica.org
Do You Have A Green Thumb?
Cultivate community spaces and novice plant-lovers alike by joining the American Horticultural Society's Master Gardener program. After training, which typically takes place at a local university, volunteers can give horticulture tours and show other plant enthusiasts how to create more bountiful gardens. AHS.org
Got The Gift Of Gab?
Meals on Wheels sustains housebound seniors with not only home-cooked dinners but also regular check-in phone calls from volunteers who enjoy a good conversation. MOWAA.org
And I Love Sharing What I've Learned
Work with a new small-business owner and put your wisdom to good use. MicroMentor has played matchmaker to more than 3,700 American entrepreneurs who need professional advice on building a successful company. Mentors offer guidance -- online or in person -- for three months or longer. MicroMentor.org
No One Ever Falls Asleep During My Presentations
Help a not-for-profit make a powerful impression online and in print. The Taproot Foundation connects designers and marketing professionals (as well as experts in strategy, finance, and IT) with pro bono projects, such as launching a Web site for a teen shelter. TaprootfFoundation.org