13 Ways You Can Change the World in 2013

By Alexandra Ostrow

Whether or not you believe in New Year's Resolutions, the period marking the end of the holiday season and the start of the New Year is a wonderful opportunity to make a commitment to others. Below is an assortment of online avenues by which you can make a significant impact with only a few minutes of your time. How will you choose to change the world?

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. - Winston Churchill

CarrotMob.Org Who It's For: Those Focused on Bettering Their Local Community An innovative approach to influencing the business and/or operations of local businesses, CarrotMob.Org believes it's better to offer businesses a "carrot" rather than force change with a "stick". Users set up a "CarrotMob", where they pledge to gather a large enough group to spend a designated amount of money at the establishment and in exchange, the business will make an improvement to their practices, as voted by the mob.

Crowdrise Who It's For: Anyone and Everyone  "If you don't give back, no one will like you." I choose to share this excerpt, because there is no way I can do justice to this amazing site that takes a humorous approach to philanthropy and charitable giving. Take a look at their website, see how it works, make sure to visit the paper napkin, and let me know what you think. Better yet... start an account and learn by doing!

DoSomething.Org Who It's For: Teens (And Moms) Struggling to find something for your adolescent to do (aside from yelling at you and/or sneaking out of the house)? Almost every week, this teen-focused organization launches new campaigns to create social change without money, an adult, or a car.  Take a peek at Teens for Jeans or 50 Cans to get a feel for what they do!

DonorsChoose.Org Who It's For: Those Looking to Impact Education & Schools Interested in contributing to schools but not sure where or how? DonorsChoose lets you search for teachers needing books, art supplies, field trips, and more... and you can search by project or by location!

eBay Giving Works Who It's For: eBay Aficionados or Anyone Buying & Selling on eBay Are you a Power Seller who's always on the lookout for hidden treasure to sell on eBay? Put your passion to good use! Each time you make a sale, you can donate a portion of the proceeds to support your favorite nonprofits!  If you're more of a shopper than a seller, you can buy from those who have already pledged a portion of their profits to a nonprofit.

Global Voices Online Who It's For: Writers, Translators, and more! Are you a blogger looking for ways to get involved? GlobalVoices is an international network working to make the voices heard of marginalized and/or censored communities. If you find this to be of interest, but you don't maintain a blog, learn about other opportunities here!

IndieGoGo Who It's For: Anyone and Everyone Whether you're interested in disaster relief, giving holiday gifts to a family in need, or funding an indie film, you are bound to find a project that hits close to home. Want to start your own campaign? Check it out here!

Kiva.Org Who It's For: Anyone and Everyone With as little as $25, you can help Sabita pay for cooking supplies for her business in India or Marlon Antonio build a proper home for his 3 year old son in Nicaragua. Once you've made the loan, Kiva keeps you updated on the borrower's progress. Then, as the borrower repays the loan, the money is redeposited into your account so you can fund another loan, donate it to Kiva or withdraw it to spend on something else! Watch the story of a Kiva loan here.

Sparked Community Who It's For: Business Owners   Sparked refers to itself as a "social business solution" - equipping companies with everything they need to activate their employees for the greater good. By creating teams, assigning captains, and setting goals (with rewards!), business owners can cultivate a fun and philanthropic work environment.

Traffic-Driving Annotations on YouTube Who It's For: Nonprofits Video annotations were traditionally used to direct viewers to other videos, playlists and search results within the YouTube platform. This past year, YouTube updated this feature to allow users to link out to the following websites and platforms: Change.org, DonorsChoose.org, RocketHub.com, Causes.comKickstarter and Indiegogo. So... whether you're posting a video you think might "go viral" or sharing a home video with your family and friends, put it to good use!

Volunteer Match Who It's For: Anyone and Everyone Search by keyword for volunteer activities in your area or check out the virtual opportunities for things you can do anywhere at anytime. Fun Feature? The live map shows VolunteerMatch referrals from the past hour!

VolunteerSpot Who It's For: Anyone and Everyone This free volunteer management software is the perfect way for school teachers, community leaders, moms and more to send out personal invitations, email confirmations and reminders. Looking for a great way to have fun with your friends AND make a difference? Invite your friends and family to celebrate your birthday by giving back to your local community!

Witness.Org Who It's For: Anyone With a Passion For Videography A creative organization using video and storytelling to expose human rights abuses around the world. My favorite part of their site? The "How-To" section, where they provide free resources to anyone looking to create campaigns for effective human rights advocacy.

*Honorable Mention (Great Resource!): GiveWell The philanthropic landscape can be quite overwhelming. With billions of people in need and endless cause campaigns, it's not always easy to determine an organization's legitimacy, much less the effectiveness of its program. That's where GiveWell comes in - doing the dirty work for you so you can feel confident in your choices.

Have another favorite to share? Include it in the comments!