Bigger may be better in Texas; but for the rest of us, small steps are all it takes to make a difference. I've searched the depths of the web for the smallest big ideas that help everyday citizens make an impact. Here are my favorite tools for good things micro:
#1: Micro-volunteering: doing good on your down time
The team at the Extraordinaries is helping you be more productive while waiting in lines or riding the bus. Through a simple and sleek iPhone app, you can participate in short volunteer opportunities from sending words of encouragement to schoolkids in Bangalore to helping catalog images of animal abuse for Big Cat Rescue.
#2: Micro-loans... for students
Education is perhaps the best long-term solution to ending the poverty cycle, but unfortunately not all aspiring students can afford the high cost of school. Vittanna is a micro-lending platform built to connect students in the developing world with small loans from lenders like you. Your $25 loan combines with other loans, and suddenly students like Nardith Torres Marcelo in Peru can study laboratory sciences and pursue their personal and professional dreams. Vittana believes that the biggest waste in the world is not oil or food or, really, any other material thing -- but, rather, human potential.
#3: Games that give back
Playing vocabulary games has never been so rewarding! For each answer you get right on FreeRice.com, a sponsor donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. The game is highly addictive, and you can literally watch your impact grow as your virtual bowl fills up with rice. To date, over 68 billion grains have been donated, feeding millions of people.
#4: Micro-giving: keeping families from falling into homelessness
In a single year, it costs the Commonwealth of Massachusetts $47,000 to provide shelter for one homeless family. But what if you could help keep that family from becoming homeless in the first place? And what if it was only a fraction of that cost - around $1,000? SmallCanBeBig.org works closely with case managers to find families who can truly benefit from a one-time charitable donation. Then, small donors like you come together to make the donation possible. The team at SmallCanBeBig believes that it's not just the size of the contribution that matters, but the size of the group that shares the same goal.
#5: Emails that give for you
"Donate" space at the bottom of your emails to raise awareness and drive financial support for your favorite cause. ReplyForAll is a tool that provides a customized email signature including links to a cause along with an ad. Each time you send an email, ReplyForAll donates 50% of the advertising revenue to one of 14 non-profits. Donated email space thus far has prevented 27,715 kg of CO2 from entering our skies, provided a year of clean water for 3,077 people, and more.
Know of other small ways to make a BIG differece? Share in the comments below!