Aristotle states, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good.”
In other words, you want to leave this world better than when you entered it. But you don’t have to take any drastic, life-changing measures to accomplish this change.
Instead, consider the butterfly effect. Any slight difference made can ripple outwards and lead to more significant change elsewhere. And there is no better place to start than making a positive impact in your local community.
Focus on your strengths and use them to impact others.
Volunteer what you can—like time, energy, and resources.
When you invest in your community, you could make a global impact.
Positive change starts with investing in yourself.
Volunteer your time and energy
One in four Americans spends time volunteering. In addition, two out of three Americans reach out to help their neighbor. Volunteering isn’t just good for those you help. It also positively impacts your health by improving your mood, strengthening your body, and releasing stress.
When you volunteer, you give your time, talents, and energy to positively impact your community. You can either focus on volunteering to help people or to help the environment.
Investing in people
You can find charities in your area by checking out your local social media pages or government listings. Charities can always use extra hands and hearts to help those in need through food distribution, handyman work, childcare, and more.
Another great place to start is in your local schools. Use your natural talents to help with tutoring, coaching, or planning educational activities that pour into the lives of your community’s next generation.
Investing in the environment
Your community is also the homes, gardens, streets, and parks around you. These are the places where people make memories. You can ensure people can go outside safely and enjoy their community by picking up trash, cleaning public areas, and gardening overgrown parks.
If you live in a historic neighborhood, you could also join a historical society to learn how to clean and preserve landmarks and monuments.
Donate supplies to community charities
You can give more than just your time to your community. Consider giving material gifts to help people who are struggling.
Total charitable giving in 2017 in the U.S. was over $410 billion. Every year since 1977, charitable giving has risen—except for three years where it temporarily dipped. Religious organizations and groups received the most significant donations, followed by educational charities.
In addition to monetary donations, you can also donate food, clothes, household items, childcare supplies, and toiletries to your local charities and homeless shelters. When you join social media groups like local Facebook groups, you can see posts from your neighbors about specific community members in need.
Even if you don’t have physical items to donate, you can donate your home for events or your car to drive others to work or school.
Support local businesses and small business owners
Local businesses are foundational for your community’s economic growth. For every $100 you spend at a small business, $68 returns to the economy. If every household in the U.S. spent $10 each month at a local business, that would put over $9 billion back into the economy.
Some examples of common local businesses you can invest in are:
You can also positively impact your community by starting your own business or side hustle to earn an income that you can invest in your local economy.
Build relationships with your neighbors
Even though you may spend years in your community, you might not ever get to know all your neighbors. Unfortunately, only 26% of Americans know most of their neighbors, and 57% know a few neighbors.
Investing in your community includes reaching out to the people around you. Some of the ways you can build relationships with your neighbors are by:
Bringing meals to people who are sick
Babysitting neighborhood children
Doing chores for disabled or elderly people
Visiting sick or lonely neighbors
Even if your neighbors aren’t experiencing any loss, sickness, or challenges, don’t underestimate the power of a listening ear.
Sure, making friends as an adult isn’t easy. But thankfully, many of your neighbors are also seeking meaningful connections. You can find friends by visiting neighborhood coffee shops, joining community Facebook groups, attending local sporting events, and chatting with others on the street. You may be surprised at how many people will positively respond if you ask for their number to keep in touch.
Participate in community politics
Sometimes the change you want to see in your community isn’t achievable by yourself. Instead, you may need the help of the local government, mayor’s office, or HOA. Except most people don’t participate in local elections, so you won’t always have people in office who are focused on the good of your community.
Less than 40% of registered voters participate in mayoral and city council elections. Many times, people don’t know when the elections take place because they occur in random cycles. In addition, those who do vote are primarily in a higher income bracket and similar demographic—leaving low-income households and minorities underrepresented.
But you can change that cycle by educating yourself and others on local candidates and election dates. Then, vote for the leaders that will impact your community in a positive way.
Make a positive impact on your community today
We all have a purpose and a calling in life. The key is to align your life with your purpose. While most of us know making a positive impact on our community is a worthwhile goal, it’s easy for us to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget to look for ways to give back to others.
If you’re looking to make a positive impact on society, start with yourself. Learn more about working with Vector.