Technology goes a long way toward making our personal and professional lives easier and more enjoyable. But what many people may not realize is that it can also be an integral tool in making the lives of others better. From Web-based volunteering to device donation, there are a plethora of ways you can do good with tech. Here are a few tips to get you started.
With the hectic schedules that many of us contend with day in and day out, it's easy to make an excuse not to volunteer your limited free time. But DON'T. With the variety of online volunteering options available today, you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home to help out a person or organization in need.
Even better, some companies have opportunities that only take a few minutes and can be done whenever you have a moment to spare, so you don't have to stress about fitting yet another obligation into an already crammed schedule. DO check out organizations like The Extraordinaries, which offers a platform that allows those with a variety of skills to participate in micro volunteering.
Pressed for time but have plenty of cold, hard cash to spare? DO visit the Web sites of causes close to your heart to find out about quick and easy ways to donate. A huge number of nonprofit organizations such as the Audubon Society, your regional PBS affiliate, Farm Aid, and many more now accept text donations, which are automatically added to your cell phone bill in easily-digestible increments of $5 to $10 (in most cases).
Also, if you balk at the idea of simply giving away cash, DON'T overlook organizations that let you contribute resources that allow people to thrive on their own instead. Kiva, for example, is a micro-financing site that features profiles of entrepreneurs in need. You can lend various increments of money to those of your choosing, and when the loan is repaid, elect whether to keep it in the system to help others or just cash out (a nice option to have in the event that your financial situation changes). Heifer International takes a different tack, letting you donate specific livestock--or even gift it in the name of someone else.
Finally, remember that many NGOs have caught on to the social networking trend, so DO connect with the causes you feel passionately about. Everything from Room to Read to the MACHI project can always use more followers and fans.