How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World-at No Cost!


Want to help make your community, your town—your world—a better place, but don’t know where to begin? How To Be An Everyday Philanthropist shows you the way. A handbook, a resource guide, a call to action, and an inspiration, it offers 330 concrete, direct ideas for making a difference—all of which have nothing to do with the size of your checkbook and everything to do with using the hidden assets that are already a part of your life. Whether you’re shopping, working, exercising, or surfing the Web, there are ...
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How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World-at No Cost!

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Want to help make your community, your town—your world—a better place, but don’t know where to begin? How To Be An Everyday Philanthropist shows you the way. A handbook, a resource guide, a call to action, and an inspiration, it offers 330 concrete, direct ideas for making a difference—all of which have nothing to do with the size of your checkbook and everything to do with using the hidden assets that are already a part of your life. Whether you’re shopping, working, exercising, or surfing the Web, there are hundreds of ways to slip small but deeply meaningful acts of philanthropy into your life, using 330 of the most innovative and effective charitable organizations around.

Have an old pair of sneakers lying around the house? Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe program will recycle them into safe playground surfaces. getting rid of that old cell phone? Call to Protect will refurbish it as an emergency lifeline for abused women. Racking up frequent-flier miles? Donate them to an ill child so they can travel and get the care they need. Like to knit? Knit hats for cancer patients. Start a petition, sign a petition, send out an awareness e-mail, and network with like-minded givers and doers at There are ideas for giving things you might never have thought of—your hair, old prom dress, breast milk for African AIDS orphans. Ideas for using your hobbies, talents, time, trash, technology, and more. Each suggestion can be accomplished in the course of a day, most within an hour. In tough times it’s more important than ever that people and communities pull together— How To Be An Everyday Philanthropist makes it easier than ever before.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Della A. Yannuzzi
Author Boles has written an interesting resource book describing how anyone can make a difference in the world at no cost. She offers 330 ideas detailing how to do this by using your talents, time, computer, family, community, and more. In the introduction, Boles stresses that a philanthropist tries to make a difference with whatever riches he or she possesses. She gives examples of people who have come up with ideas to better their world. An example is Jed Koslow who ran a triathlon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Another way to offer help is through the Internet. A site named "Games for Change" offers a series of digital games that promise awareness of social problems. At, a virtual mentor can connect with a parentless teen to talk and offer advice. Another way to offer help is through volunteerism, which only requires the budding philanthropist's time. Volunteer opportunities are everywhere. Boles book lists online sites dedicated to volunteer services. Giving backing to your community can also offer endless opportunities. For example, Gretchen Holt of New York City, along with volunteers, baked almost 100,000 cookies to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Their efforts raised $400,000. There is something for everyone in this book, both young and old. It is a much needed resource in a world that needs many "Everyday Philanthropists." Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761155041
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/12/2009
  • Pages: 215
  • Sales rank: 618,766
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicole Bouchard Boles is an expert in no-cost philanthropy and works with companies and individuals to help incorporate giving into their everyday lives. She lives with her family in Alberta, Canada.
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Read an Excerpt

Use Your Trash
"One man's trash is another man's treasure." -- Anonymous

In the spring of 1947, Homer and Langley Collyer -- brothers, recluses, and pack rats-- were found dead in their New York City brownstone. Also found were fourteen out-of-tune pianos, three dressmaker's dummies, three thousand books, pieces of a Model T Ford, camera equipment, bowling balls, musical instruments, furniture, the rusted frame of a baby carriage, and rooms stacked to the ceiling with the results of nearly forty years of obsessive and compulsive hoarding. One hundred and three tons of it, to be exact. Rescue workers discovered Homer's body almost immediately, but it took another eighteen days to uncover Langley. His body was found decomposing under an old suitcase and three bundles of newspapers.

Clearly, the Collyer brothers thought all this junk was something worth hanging on to. And in a way, I can see where they were coming from. It's one thing to toss out a banana peel, but a car engine? Surely something so solid should be worth something! Using our trash as a philanthropic tool requires adopting a bit of a Collyer mentality -- not the hoarding urge but the part of them that saw value in garbage. You already know that your belongings can pack a philanthropic punch; now see how your trash can do the same.

Down to the Last Scrap
We fill our garbage cans with things that shouldn't be there -- recyclables, bulky and hazardous waste, as well as plain old household trash that could be reduced if we'd just make a few changes to our daily routines. In the U.S., we generate 230 million tons of garbage a year -- that's about 4.6 pounds of discarded stuff per person per day. Despite raised environmental awareness over the last twenty years, we still have a long way to go. Consider this: Less than a quarter of garbage in the U.S. is recycled. The rest of it goes into the country's approximately 7,000 landfills -- which take in a magnitude of trash equal in weight to the Empire State Building every single day.

This statistic is all the more frustrating considering that we could actually reuse, compost, or recycle more than 70 percent of our garbage. Though the average person may not be aware of the myriad ways their garbage can have a second life, organizations around the world are finding new and innovative ways to take advantage of (and reduce) all that waste we create. So don't just separate those cans and bottles and newspapers. Pul out anything that might go the extra mile to help someone in need.

Let's say you have a T-shirt you want to get rid of -- it's so worn out, permanently stained, or torn that it is truly unwearable (and you can only use so many dust rags) --so you toss it into the trash, and into a landfill it goes. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures show that in 2007, Americans trashed nearly 12 million tons of textiles. That's a lot of holey underwear! But these days it's possible to recycle even the grungiest gym sock. Textile recycling is a growing industry, and many cities have textile banks or drop-off points for old clothing, household linens, and fabrics. Any salvageable cloth is sent overseas for resale, other textiles are turned into wiping materials, and the rest is recycled into new fibers.

Even the smallest bits of trash can have charitable potential. Next time you put a soda can into the recycling bin (I know you wouldn't put it in the trash), look at that little pull tab on top. It's meant to stay on the can, but if you give it a tug or two, it will come off. Organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House (RMDH), which provides housing for families of children undergoing medical treatment, accept donations of soda can tabs as part of their fund-raising efforts.

Local chapters of RMDH collect the tabs and redeem them at aluminum recycling centers. (The aluminum used in the tabs is often heavier and of higher quality than that of the can itself. Plus it's easier to transport tabs than cans.) Collective efforts can yield big results. Americans consume more than 180 billion canned drinks a year -- that's $64 million worth of aluminum that translates into real money for valuable programs like RMDH. My sister-in-law, Marie, and her family were grateful for RMDH when her baby was born prematurely, weighing less than three pounds. "I needed a place to stay so I could be close to my daughter," said Marie, who lived four hours away from the hospital. "The Ronald McDonald House was a lifesaver for us while I was nursing and caring for McKenzie."

Extreme Recycling: Thinking outside the Landfill
In 1998, a Nigerian physician was treating a nurse in her clinic who was dying of AIDS. The physician had received her HIV training through New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, so she got in touch with her old colleagues and made a small request for antiretroviral medications. In response, the staff at the hospital's Center for Special Studies launched a drive to collect unused drugs from patients who had switched their antiretroviral medication. They sent so much medicine to the Nigerian clinic that the doctor was able to start other patients on antiretroviral therapy. Buoyed by their success, the Center for Special Studies started the Starfish Project, which continues to send unused portions of medications, from antiretrovirals to antihistamines, donated by American hospitals and individuals, to patients in Nigeria.

While rescuing this would-be trash is prolonging and improving the quality of life for so many, it's also keeping it out of landfills. According to the EPA, when drugs are placed into the garbage they can become toxic contaminants, which can harm fish, wildlife, and even humans. Keep this in mind next time you clean out your medicine cabinet.

In Chapter 5, "Use Your Belongings," I suggest some great charities that can reuse your old computers and cell phones. But if you're unloading a computer that can't be resuscitated (a dropped laptop, a shattered monitor, that antique Apple in your garage), think twice before you toss it in the trash. Mercury, cadmium, and lead are but a few of the toxic substances lurking inside your old computer, making computers some of the worst polluters in our landfills. When the machine is crushed or incinerated, these elements -- capable of causing cancer, nerve damage, chemical burns, and more -- leach into the earth, water supply, or atmosphere.

Computers aren't the only high-tech ticking time bombs in our landfills. More than 300 million bulky printer cartridges took up way too much space in our trash last year, though many of them are completely recyclable. So don't haul your unwanted tech gear off to the dump. Instead, find a responsible way to dispose of it. Start by calling your town's public works department or checking out the Strategies in this chapter and Chapter 5, "Use Your Belongings," for earth- and people-friendly ways to recycle your tech gear in an environmentally responsible fashion.

When it comes to recycling more than cans and newspapers, rules and regulations vary widely from city to city. is a great resource for finding places to recycle your less obvious bits of trash--especially hazardous household chemicals. Also, many cities have annual household chemical clean-up days and specific drop-off points in city landfills, so check your local sanitation department.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, and most of all, empty your trash philanthropically. Embrace this philosophy, and you improve the planet--and the lives of its people--every time you haul your (much lighter) garbage can to the curb.

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Table of Contents


1. Use Your Body

2. Use Your Family

3. Use Your Computer

4. Use Your Talents

5. Use Your Belongings

6. Use Your Trash

7. Use Your Time

8. Use Your Community

9. Use our Decisions

10. Use Your Awareness

11. Use (a little bit of) Your Resources

Appendix A: Use Your Calendar

Appendix B: Further Reading


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  • Posted December 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Timely Book that will Change the Concept of 'Gifting'

    Yes, 'tis the Christmas Season and the traffic is awful, the stores are packed, and folks buy gifts worrying in the back of their minds how they will pay for everyone on the Christmas List come next month's bills. That is only one reason why it is such a pleasure to come across this brief but warmly sharing book HOW TO BE AN EVERYDAY PHILANTHROPIST by Nicole Bouchard Boles. It is difficult to not change old habits and value systems after reading her wise ideas and helpful maps on how to help the world be a better place. Though the book is not a seasonal book, it is one that belongs as a stocking stuffer for the Holidays - a gift that will provide a sense of satisfaction in the coming years as we follow the author's suggestions on how to 'give back'.

    The format of the book is very user friendly. Each section is divided into how to re-think what each of us has as a potential for helping others, a section of writing that is supportive in suggesting how everyone is capable of being a giver or an 'everyday philanthropist'. The author then follows her mind set changes with practical, easy steps that show the depth of research that went into this book, finding ways to give of ourselves in every fashion - and the directory for this new vision is the computer!

    How to give back to the community the things that are missing in the lives of those less fortunate than us? Nicole Bouchard Boles offers the following sections: Use Your Body (from organ donation to being someone's eyes in reading to the blind, to using the legs to run marathons for charity, etc); Use Your Family (volunteering as family to be Big Brother or Big Sister, caring for other people's pets, etc); Use Your Computer (she gives a large number of reliable computer addresses that direct us to ideal charitable organizations); Use Your Talents (such as Pro Bono work, Habitat for Humanity, provide grant proposals for those in need of assistance in that field); Use Your Belongings (care packages to soldiers, books for prisoners, donate clothes, cars, food, timeshares); Use your Time (volunteer in times of disaster, on election day, ring a Christmas Kettle Bell); Use your Community, Your Decisions, Your Awareness.

    This book is not only a pleasure to read as a means of discovering how much we all have that we could share to make the world a friendlier and better place, it also is one of the best resources published on how to find reliable internet sources to help the reader mark the path toward changing the idea of gifting. Just reading this book makes for an eye-opening experience on how very easy it is to feel the joy of being a significant citizen.

    Grady Harp

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