Want To Make A Difference In The World? Use the 6 Resources You Already Have

by Lydia Johnson, M.S. (Certified Holistic Career Coach)

Giving Tuesday was this week, kicking off what many non-profits call “The Giving Season,” a time when we’re encouraged to reflect on how we can give back and positively impact the world.

Many of us are left feeling a little confused at these messages, wondering exactly what actions we should take to “do good” and how to spend our limited resources to have the biggest impact.

And if you’re like many of my career coaching clients, you might have a little voice in your head going off all year, saying…

“My work isn’t really making a difference.” or

“Surely there’s something I can do to have a bigger impact??”

I get it– In a world full of so many competing priorities, it’s hard to know how to spend your limited time and effort.

That’s why I’ve pulled together a short guide about increasing your positive impact on the world using the six resources you already have: Money, work time, personal time, skills, network, and daily choices.

Note: Many of these strategies are inspired by a movement called Effective Altruism, which is all about using data and evidence-based decisions to increase your positive impact on the world.

Give to Effective Charities to Make the Most Difference 

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re considered wealthy by global standards (source; genuinely worth a read). So, no matter your income, you can make a substantial impact by donating a portion to effective charities. For example, the average college graduate could save around 40 lives over their career span if they donated 10% of their income to a highly effective charity like the Against Malaria Foundation. Forty is a LOT of human beings… probably more than all of my friends combined!

The emphasis here is effective– the best charities can do hundreds of times more good than a poor-performing charity. So please do your research when selecting your charity, such as through GiveWell or Charity Navigator. Please strongly consider sending at least some of your donations overseas, where your dollar will increase quality of life (or even save lives).

If you’re feeling stuck, a great default is to donate to GiveWell’s Top Charities fund, where your dollars will go to whichever highly vetted, high-impact charity is most needed. It’s an option I often lean on and is the organization I donate 10% of my company’s annual revenue to.

Work at a Company That Does Good

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to save lives. You can use the 80,000 hours you spend working over your lifetime for good, regardless of your field.

Most of us have skills that we could use within organizations focused on improving the world. So, if you’re looking for a new job, why not look for an organization that is committed to doing good?

You can amplify your impact even further if you work for an organization focused on one of the world’s most pressing and comparatively under-resourced problems, such as AI, pandemic preparation, climate change, etc.

There are a ton of great companies out there, but here are a few job boards specifically geared toward high-impact nonprofits or charity organizations:

Use Your Free Time and Skills For Good

Some of us aren’t able to switch jobs or donate much financially. If that’s your position, consider donating your time and skills instead.

When considering ways to volunteer your time and skills, focus on your unique skill set that is not easily replaceable. In general, you’ll have more of an impact if you “donate” the specific skills that others do not have that you would if you attempt to do something you’re average (or even unskilled) at. If you’re great at throwing parties and terrible at construction, please don’t build a house for someone– help organize a fundraiser to pay for the materials of that house!

If you work for a large corporate organization, there’s a decent chance you can actually take a paid workday to volunteer— many companies now offer “volunteer PTO.” If you have it, use it!

Find Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Volunteer Match
  • A good ole Google search of “Volunteer needs in [your city]”
  • Your city government and newspaper will probably have additional information on volunteer needs

Leverage Your Network

You don’t have to be a rockstar to have a big audience– in today’s modern society, many of us have a much wider span of influence and network than we might realize. Perhaps you have a big social media following, influence at work as a leader, or high visibility within your communities.

There are countless ways to use your platform for good, but here’s a short list to get you started in your brainstorming:

  • Start a Holiday & Birthday fundraising for effective charities
  • Encourage your team to volunteer (e.g., team building + volunteering all in one!)
  • Using your social media platform to encourage others to donate/do good
  • Collect donatable goods during your next dinner party.
    • If you do this, don’t forget to make sure your organization of choice actually needs what you’re collecting and that the donations are high quality (no expired cans, please).
  • Use your influence at your company to help them make better financial decisions or get more involved in their communities
  • Organize a volunteer day and invite all your local connections

Make a Positive Impact With a Lifestyle Change in Your Personal Life

Honestly, I’m not sure if this strategy or the “donate a decent chunk of your income” one will hit more buttons, but I’ve got to put it out there:

Every single one of us could make a difference by initiating a lifestyle change. You probably know the list, but those include things like…

  • Reducing our consumption of fast fashion (Ah, I’m so guilty of this)
  • Regularly educating yourself about your privileges and working to embody antiracism
  • Voting and being engaged in your local and national politics
  • Eating a largely plant-based diet
  • Taking fewer flights

I’m not here to tell you how to live, so instead, I’ll just be that little voice whispering in your ear, telling you…

Maybe it’s time to make that change you’ve been thinking about making.

Apply it IRL: Your Homework

Consider committing to one of the above actions and putting your plan into action by the end of the year. No more waffling, my friends– it’s time to do something IRL, okay?

If you’d like an accountability buddy, I’ll offer myself up for free! Email me with your commitment, and I’ll check in with you in two weeks to see how much progress you’ve made. If you’d rather it not be me, no problem– ask a different buddy to help hold you accountable. We all need that little push sometimes!

A Note of Self-Love:

I know that trying to “do good” can feel like you’re in a system that’s rigged for failure and that no matter what you do, you’ll never be “good enough” (fellow Good Place fans, anyone?).

When you’re considering making these changes, please practice self-kindness and compassion. It’s better for your mental health and increases the odds you’ll stick with your goals when it gets hard.

It’s less about doing everything and more about just doing something, no matter how small.

And then, when you have the capacity, do one more thing.

I know your little actions might seem like they don’t make a big difference in the grand scheme of things, but they might make all the difference to someone, which makes it all worthwhile. Need inspiration? Here’s a short story:

Pin by Ginny G on SSW | Starfish story, Inspirational quotes, Quotes

More Resources:

If you’d like to learn more about how to do good the most effectively, you may enjoy learning about the movement dedicated to Effective Altruism. Here are some of my favorite resources in this field:

Get Personalized Support:

Want even more help identifying how you can have a bigger impact through your career?

I offer all of my career coaching clients a pro-bono Impact session focused on creating a customized impact plan using the concepts in this article. When combined with the 6+ months of private 1:1 coaching, many clients make giant leaps towards a more fulfilling and impactful personal and professional life.

Let’s chat if you’d like to learn more about private career coaching. I offer a free 30-minute consult call to create a tailored-for-you coaching plan. It’s risk-free, no-pressure, and I promise: I don’t bite.

Book Your Free Consult Call

Hi, I’m Lydia Johnson, MS!

I’m a dual-certified career coach who specalizes in helping ultra-busy professionals designa fulfilling, burnout-free career that leaves space for the rest of their life.

If you’re looking ahead into 2024 dreading your job, let’s chat. You spend WAY to much time at work for it to be something that leaves you drained and unfulfilled.

Design Your Thriving Career

?Hi, I'm Lydia Johnson, MS

?Hi, I'm Lydia Johnson, MS

Holistic Career Coach & Founder of ThriveCulture Coaching

I’m a dual-certified career coach and Industrial-Organizational Psychology consultant on a mission to banish Sunday Scaries and help you reclaim your life from work stress. I specialize in helping ultra-busy people design a fulfilling and burnout-free career that leaves more space for the rest of your life. Whether you need to overhaul everything, find a new job, or make your current role work better for you, I’m here to help.

You can learn more about my holistic and evidence-based approach on my website or jump on the phone for a FREE 20-minute consult call to learn more about how career coaching can help you finally enjoy a fulfilling, burnout-free career.


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