Philanthropy is a growing industry with more and more people looking for ways to give back to their communities. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be wealthy to be effective as a philanthropist. There are many ways that you can contribute to your local community that can have long-lasting benefits for those in need.

Promote Children’s Literacy Programs

From Open Books to Bernie’s Book Bank, there are plenty of businesses and organizations that could use your help in their quest to get more children to read. You can help by donating books or by volunteering to help area schools with a reading and literacy program. There are many children with reading difficulties that could benefit from a tutor.

Organize a Book Drive

You can also help incarcerated women by filling their libraries with donated books. Books of all kinds are in short supply when it comes to prison libraries, but you can change that with a book drive. The inmates will be happy to receive anything new, including textbooks, fiction, and even dictionaries. Providing a broader range of reading materials can help incarcerated women improve themselves.

Encourage Participation in the Arts

In many area schools, music and artistic education takes a back seat to sports and other more popular extracurricular activities. By volunteering to help with special projects from music festivals to art shows, you can help make these events more available in your community. You may even help to create greater community support, so children will be more motivated to participate in these programs.

Become a Mentor

If you want to see the effect your participation has on area children, consider becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. Mentoring disadvantaged children provides an opportunity for you to have a positive effect on one child in particular. You’ll also be helping the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago organization connect with more children in the community.

Help the Homeless

The homeless need your help as well. You can make a big difference by helping homeless people find work or get their next meal. You can even donate business wear that you no longer use, so less fortunate people will have the clothes they need to attend interviews and job fairs.

The opportunities to contribute in your community are limitless. The best thing to do is look around your neighborhood and see what causes touch your heart. This can lead you to organizations that share your interests and help you to make a bigger difference.