Giving Made Simple

You can make a difference on a daily basis, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.  Most people think they have to donate a lot of time and money in order to make a difference. But there are simple ways to integrate giving into our personal and professional lives that don’t involve either. In Simple Giving, Jennifer Iacovelli shows us how to make giving a part of our daily routines. It can involve something as simple as holding the door open for a stranger or paying someone else’s toll.

In this excerpt from Simple Giving, Iacovelli shares easy and inspiring ways for us to demonstrate acts of kindness on a daily basis.


Giving Model 1: Everyday Acts of Kindness

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” ~ Henry James

As we dive into our models of giving, we start with the simplest form of all. Kindness. Kindness is the simple quality of being considerate, friendly and/or generous to others. An act of kindness can change the trajectory of your entire day, whether you are performing the act or on the receiving end. Think about how good it feels to have a friendly stranger give you a big smile while walking down the street or to help an elderly neighbor bring groceries into the house.

Performing random acts of kindness have become a popular activity and are particularly common after tragic events, reminding us to be more considerate of others. You may have heard stories of people helping strangers in natural disasters or paying for someone else’s toll in honor of the victims of a heartbreaking event like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. These acts make sense when you consider them a way of coping with the reality of such horrific and life-changing events. We are searching for meaning. We want reassurance that people are indeed humane.

The results of these kindness actions are astounding because they often create a chain reaction. One person does something good, and the recipient of that good deed wants to “pay it forward” and do something kind for someone else. The kindness continues, whether the first person realizes it or not. That’s where the fun comes in, because you often perform the act of kindness with the hope that you will make someone’s day and that it will continue on from person to person. Who knows what kind of difference you can make in someone’s life. It almost becomes a game.

Social scientists James Fowler and Nicholas Chistakis have shown that acts of generosity and kindness are indeed contagious. Happiness can be spread, and if we are with people who are happy, their happiness rubs off on us.

To me, performing an act of kindness is a gateway that leads to more giving. Even if you’re not ready to make a huge commitment, incorporating small, everyday acts of kindness into your life could lead you to bigger philanthropic endeavors. Your good deeds provide you with that rush of happiness when you give, and it doesn’t take much time or effort to complete one.

The best thing about everyday acts of kindness is that you can perform them with little to no money. You can also easily incorporate these acts into your day. In fact, you may already be carrying out acts of kindness without realizing it. Here are some examples:


– Holding a door open for a stranger


– Allowing a busy mom with kids to cut in front of you in the checkout line (much appreciated!)


– Letting someone take a left turn in traffic


– Paying for a stranger’s coffee at your local café


– Helping an older person load groceries into her car


– Bringing dinner over to a neighbor’s house


– Delivering donuts to the local fire department (one of   our favorites!)


– Picking up trash in your neighborhood


– Paying someone a compliment


– Writing a thank you letter


– Offering free babysitting to a couple or a single parent who could use a night out


– Smiling at strangers


– Donating used books to your local library


Excerpted from Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day by Jennifer Iacovelli. © 2015 by Jennifer Iacovelli. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin Group USA, Penguin Random House.


Photo Credit: Melpomene/ShutterStock



Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, consultant, and public communications professional. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for ten years and started her blog, Another Jennifer, to explore the topic of philanthropy, raise awareness for specific causes, and share the stories of others who have incorporated giving into their everyday lives. For more information on Jennifer Iacovelli, please visit her website at or on Twitter: @anotherjenb.



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