Surprising New Ways to Give Back


IstockphotoFrom Health magazine
Youve finished your holiday shopping, and dont you feel good? But theres another way to feel even better—give to charity. Weve known for a while that people feel good when they do good, says Margaret Clark, PhD, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Yale University: “But research now shows that giving is good for you emotionally and physically.” Here, seven simple ways to give more.

1. Surf for charity

Online shopping mall lets you choose from thousands of charities and schools (or add your own), then it links you to more than 700 stores, including Apple and Target. A certain percentage of every purchase is donated to your chosen cause (Gap, for example, gives 2.8 percent; 1-800-FLOWERS gives 7 percent). Other shopping sites that let you surf and give:,, and

2. Give a goat (or something somebody really needs)

Imagine the difference you could make by buying a goat for a family in Malawi. For $75, you help them feed themselves, bring in income, and even fertilize their soil to increase future crop yields. For ideas, visit

3. Help grow a business

Microfinance is another way to make the most of your spending. “The power of the concept is that you treat people not as recipients of charity but as businesspeople,” says Harvard Business Schools Michael Chu, who researches business and global poverty. Your donation of $25 could help a Pakistani woman grow a clothing business or an African mother of seven expand a teak-selling enterprise. For more info, check out or

4. Gift your frequent-flyer miles

The American Red Cross uses donated miles to send volunteers to critical areas, where they can provide relief to disaster victims. And Operation Hero Miles uses them to send family members to visit wounded soldiers at military hospitals.

5. Click for a good cause

Every time you do a search at, a penny is donated to your favorite cause—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, for instance, or your local temple or church. Other search engines that let you click and give: and If instant messaging is your thing, Microsofts “im Initiative” donates to your choice of 10 popular charities each time you chat online.

6. Donate your old cell phone

The National Coalition Against Domes­tic Violence collects and distributes working cell phones to victims of domestic violence. And Phones for Life will turn your PDA or cell phone into a 911-capable lifeline for seniors and domestic violence victims.

7. Volunteer your vacation

Thanks to and United Way of America, when you search for tickets at, you can look for vacay destinations and volunteer opportunities in the same location. That means the next time you hit Disneyland, you could spend a day of your trip volunteering at a soup kitchen. Mickey would be proud.