Other Ways of Paying it Forward

By Dean Opriasa  

With the advancement in technology and the rapid growth of social media, we have more access to causes and nonprofits than ever before. The convergence of social media and activism has given rise to a new wave of “social giving”. Numerous sites are now available to help discover, engage with, and support causes. Spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues is a global conversation that is imperative in today’s world. Social media allows us to have that dialogue. 

Social media certainly makes it easier to show your support of global issues or local community causes.  Numerous sites highlight the fact that there are ways to give back in a meaningful way without reaching into your wallet or writing a check. Here are some of those ways.


You’ve always wanted to help and have a valuable skill set to share, but don’t know how? Try Volunteer Match - this site matches individuals with non-profits that are looking for certain services, talents, and skills

There are lots of other options, however, that usually don’t come immediately to mind when thinking about philanthropy. Here are some unconventional ways to give back.


Yes, I said shop! If you’ve got a shopping “habit” like me, you can do more than just feel great about a new treat for yourself. Buy4 is the perfect way to combine your love of shopping with giving back. The site currently partners with 1,700 merchants like Adidas, Best Buy, and Game Stop who agree to donate a portion of each purchase to your charity of choice.


Sounds weird, but check out GoodSearch. Their tag line says it all, “You Search, We Give”.  GoodSearch is a search engine which donates 50 percent of its sponsored search revenue to charities and schools chosen by you.

Play a Game

Finally, you can play to pay….it forward. Free Rice aims to fight world hunger. If you like quizzes, this is for you! Players can earn 10 grains of rice for every correct answer to questions across several categories: vocabulary, math, foreign language, and more. Furthermore, the grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program.

The way we use technology and the web is changing.  Society is changing. And people are coming together to do something good with it.  What the web and social media have done is gather a community of like-minded people in one place and pool together their collective willingness to give while doing something they do everyday. Technology is both useful and fun and, when used correctly, it can help people be generous and pay it forward.

Do you know of other ways to pay it forward? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Michael Lerner July 30, 2011
Thanks for the suggestions Dean. I wasn't previously familiar with the sites you listed. As for other places to "Pay it Forward," I really like Kickstarter & Indiegogo. They are great ways to help people with their businesses and special projects. From Environmental Window gardens (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/windowfarms/turn-our-cities-windows-into-vertical-veggie-farm) to Animation appreciation (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1632099201/winsor-mccay-resurrection-project) to Helping at-risk youth build a Community garden (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/riooo/food-security-academy-for-youth-in-the-lower-ninth). Why not help back things that you love? Also, I am a fan of Kiva.org. It helps people across the world get small loans to help improve their lives. You loan in $25 increments which gets pooled with other people to cover the entire loan. Funny thing is, since it is a loan, you get paid back over the course of months or years. Then you can re-loan that $25 to someone else.... paid back... re-loan... Repeat. Very cool. You can help support everything from restaurants to taxi drivers to farmers this way. All 3 of these sites can post your likes/support onto Facebook to spur even more interest in a particular project/loan. Looking forward to your next post! Sincerely, Michael
brandy July 29, 2011
There are two things that I do a lot to spread the word about non-profits I support: 1. Share their Facebook pages with my friends, including a little note about why I think they are incredible. 2. Provide feedback (likes and comments) on their social media posts so that my friends see me engaging with them. Neither of these things costs me a penny, and yet I know I am contributing. I even received a handwritten note from a museum I made a small donation to, thanking me supporting them on Facebook!
Nate Guggia July 29, 2011
I love organizations that combine business with social responsibility. This is the way to world to moving. Let's face it. We all love to shop. And when we can make ethical choices that benefit the greater good, we feel even better about those choices. Thanks for turning me on to these sites as well.

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