Supporting a Cause: How to Get Started + 12 Methods

Supporting a Cause: How to Get Started + 12 Methods

From sports teams to PTAs to businesses, it’s no secret that people can accomplish a lot by coming together and supporting one another. In fact, the World Giving Index found that 4.2 billion people (or 72% of the world’s population), gave money, time, or helped someone they didn’t know in 2022.

One way to make a meaningful, lasting impact on society is by supporting a cause in your community.

If you want to make a difference, but you’re not sure how to get started, you’re not alone! In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to become a force for social good in your community. Here’s what we’ll cover:

* How to Choose a Cause to Support
* Featured Method for Supporting a Cause: ShopRaise
* Other Methods of Supporting Good Causes

Generosity is an integral part of human society—and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Across the U.S., people of all generations volunteer their time formally and informally, with Generation X having the highest formal volunteering rate (27.2%) and Baby Boomers having the highest informal helping rate (58.7%).

Ready to join in? Let’s start by discussing how to pick a cause to support.

Click through to learn how you can support a cause through everyday shopping with the free ShopRaise app.

How to Choose a Cause to Support

Supporting a cause often involves contributing time and resources to nonprofits, schools, sports teams, clubs, or faith-based organizations. While there are many worthy causes, finding one that aligns with your interests, values, and lifestyle allows you to join a community of like-minded individuals dedicated to enacting the social change you’d like to see in the world.

When choosing a cause to support, ask yourself these questions:

Questions to ask that will help you choose a cause to support, as explained in more detail below.
  • What needs exist in my community? Start your research by considering whether there are any pressing needs in your local community. For example, maybe many community members are facing housing insecurity due to the increasing cost of rent in your area. With this in mind, you might be interested in supporting a nonprofit that works to provide temporary and permanent housing to people in need.
  • What cause (and corresponding organization) would allow me to make the greatest positive impact on my community by supporting it? Imagine the type of change you would like to see in your community. Then, based on your research, identify a cause and organization that directly relates to that change. For instance, a software engineer might have the talent and passion to help a nonprofit improve digital literacy by volunteering at free digital skills workshops.
  • Which causes align with my personal values, interests, and experiences? Based on your life experiences, some causes may resonate with you more than others. If pets have always been cherished members of your family, you might be particularly drawn to animal welfare causes. Or, if you were a first-generation college student, you might feel committed to helping underprivileged high schoolers achieve their higher education goals.

Beyond researching charitable websites and social media pages, talk with your friends and family. Find out whether they’re engaged with a specific cause and determine whether you’d like to support it as well. If you have any particular questions about an organization and its work, don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly!

Top Ways to Support Good Causes

Once you have an idea of what cause you’d like to support, look into involvement opportunities that align with your interests, skills, and lifestyle.

While a high school student may not have the means to make substantial donations to a nonprofit, they might be able to devote weekends and summers to volunteering with a local youth sports team. On the other hand, a busy professional might be short on time but have the financial flexibility to make monthly donations to their favorite nonprofit. A retiree may have the time, skills, and financial resources to both become a regular volunteer and plan legacy gifts that make a lasting impact on the causes they’re most passionate about.

Regardless of what you have to offer, there is a way you can make a difference! Check out these top ways to support a cause and go for the options that appeal to you.

ShopRaise is an online shopping fundraiser platform that allows you to support a variety of causes and charities simply by making everyday purchases at popular online stores. The ShopRaise platform provides two easy ways for you to raise money for causes you care about:

Online Shopping Fundraiser

Through ShopRaise, you can turn your everyday shopping into regular contributions to charitable causes—all at no additional cost to you. To get started, all you need to do is follow these three steps:

The steps for supporting a cause through ShopRaise’s online shopping fundraiser platform, as explained in more detail below.
  1. Download the ShopRaise app. Get the free ShopRaise app or browser extension to begin shopping on your preferred device. Then, select from over 400,000 causes to contribute toward.
  2. Shop at participating retailers. Make purchases from ShopRaise’s wide network of e-commerce businesses. Whether you’re buying household supplies or renewing your closet, you’ll have access to the same prices, coupons, and deals as you normally would at more than 1,000 retailers.
  3. Watch your contributions add up for your cause. Your chosen cause will automatically receive a portion of your transactions—up to 10% depending on the retailer. Although each individual contribution is small, they add up over time to make a significant difference for your chosen organization!

Following every purchase, you can check your history in the app to view the exact amount your shopping has contributed to your cause. Additionally, ShopRaise protects your privacy by allowing your chosen organization to see your name and cumulative fundraising total, but not the exact items you purchased.

Gift Card Fundraising

The versatility of gift cards makes them universally popular as presents or opportunities to treat yourself. In addition to ShopRaise’s online shopping fundraising options, you can use the app to contribute to charitable causes by buying a digital gift card. The ShopRaise Gift Card Store provides more than 200 gift card options to choose from, which you’ll receive as an email within minutes of purchasing.

From there, you have three options:

  1. Forward the gift card. Whether you need to send a last-minute gift or simply brighten someone’s day, forward the gift card to a friend, family member, or colleague as a present.
  2. Apply the gift card to your own online or in-person purchases. For example, you can buy a restaurant gift card that allows you to give back while eating out.
  3. Use the gift card to pay for purchases through ShopRaise. Increase the funds you contribute to your cause by buying a gift card through the Gift Card Store and using it to shop through the ShopRaise app or browser extension.

Many organizations that run gift card fundraisers leave them open year-round, so you can purchase them for any occasion, from birthdays to holidays to graduation celebrations.

Read our free guide to learn more about supporting a cause through shopping.

Other Methods of Supporting Good Causes

Countless activities fall under the umbrella of supporting a cause. Ultimately, the methods you choose will depend on personal preferences, your resources, and how actively engaged you want to be. Get inspired by these additional ways to contribute:

Popular ways for supporting a good cause, as described in more detail below.

Attend a Fundraising Event

Organizations of all shapes and sizes host fundraising events to bring their community together and rally supporters around their cause. Based on your interests, you might attend a formal gala, a silent auction, a 5K run, or a walk-a-thon.

At a typical fundraising event, you can:

  • Contribute to the charitable cause through registration fees, additional donations, and event-specific contributions (such as bidding on auction items or buying raffle tickets).
  • Connect with other dedicated supporters.
  • Bring a friend or family member to inspire them to get involved.

Whether you’re a new or long-time supporter, fundraising events provide chances for you to learn more about your cause and the impact of your donations.

GivingTuesday is a global day of generosity that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. each year. On this day, many nonprofits launch special 24-hour giving campaigns that inspire people to take action and donate.

To find out about GivingTuesday fundraisers to support, you can:

  • Explore nonprofit directories like Charity Navigator.
  • Visit social media and search for #GivingTuesday.
  • Ask family and friends if they’re participating.

While giving in the U.S. alone totaled $3.1 billion on GivingTuesday 2023, there are plenty of international campaigns you can support, too. In fact, official GivingTuesday movements take place in more than 90 countries around the world.

Give to a Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding relies on securing small donations from a large number of people to raise funds. Usually, individuals and organizations will launch crowdfunding campaigns to address specific needs or goals, such as:

  • Disaster relief
  • Medical expenses
  • Creative projects
  • Trips (for instance, if a sports team needs to cover travel costs for an away game)

By contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, you can play a role in collective impact and watch the campaign progress toward a tangible outcome.

Join a Recurring Giving Program

If you find a cause you want to support year-round, signing up for recurring donations can help you make giving more convenient and consistent. The process usually looks something like this:

  • When you fill out an online donation form, you can select a checkbox to make your gift a recurring one.
  • While most recurring gifts are monthly, some organizations will allow you to choose a quarterly or annual frequency.
  • Through your chosen payment method, the donation platform will automatically process gifts to the organization at your preferred amount and frequency.

At any given time, you should be able to update your recurring gift amount, frequency, and payment details—or opt-out if you decide to.

Buy Branded Merchandise From a Nonprofit

Many nonprofits sell branded merchandise as a way to bring in extra funds and boost awareness for their cause. Depending on your budget and interests, you can support these organizations by purchasing branded merchandise such as:

Common types of branded merchandise that you can purchase to support a cause, as listed below.
  • Clothing, including t-shirts, hats, and socks.
  • Accessories, including bracelets, pins, and car magnets.
  • Themed eCards, including holiday greetings and birthday wishes.
  • Useful items, including water bottles, notebooks, and backpacks.

Plus, wearing branded apparel related to your cause can be an excellent conversation starter that encourages other people to get involved.

Run a Birthday Fundraiser

If you’re looking to try something new to celebrate your next birthday, why not start a birthday fundraiser? The steps are simple:

  1. In the days leading up to your birthday, set up a birthday fundraising page on a fundraising platform or your social media account.
  2. Briefly describe the cause you’re supporting and set a fundraising goal.
  3. Instead of (or in addition to) traditional birthday presents, ask friends and family to make donations to your fundraiser.

A birthday fundraiser can make your special day even more noteworthy by leaving a lasting impact on a cause that’s close to your heart.

Contribute In-Kind Donations

There are plenty of ways you can support a cause without making a financial gift. In-kind donations are goods or services that you can provide an organization, including:

  • Canned food
  • Blankets
  • Office equipment
  • Graphic design
  • Financial expertise
  • Legal support

For example, a school might appreciate donations of used books, sports equipment, and classroom supplies to provide more enriching experiences for its students. By contributing gently-used items, you can help organizations cut down on expenses and benefit the environment by reducing waste.

Participate in Advocacy

Advocacy involves promoting and spreading awareness of a cause to create change in your community. Common advocacy activities you can participate in are:

  • Petition signing
  • Contacting local representatives
  • Door-to-door campaigning

Even on a day-to-day basis, you can engage in advocacy by sharing social media posts and highlighting authoritative resources to educate others about your cause.

Volunteer With Your Chosen Organization

You’ve likely heard of the phrase, “Time is money.” Independent Sector takes this literally by estimating the national value of a volunteer hour, which is currently more than $31. There are plenty of ways to support a good cause by contributing your time and skills as a volunteer.

Common volunteer roles include:

  • Setting up and taking down fundraising events.
  • Cleaning up local parks, beaches, and community areas.
  • Caring for rescued animals at a shelter.
  • Sorting supplies for a food bank.
  • Helping out at a senior center.

Plus, if you’re supporting a cause outside of your local area or need more convenient volunteering options, there are plenty of virtual opportunities to look into. For instance, you could serve as an online mentor or tutor, assist with social media management, or provide translations.

Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Giving Programs

Many businesses support charitable causes through philanthropy. In fact, according to Double the Donation, the top 10 most generous businesses donate more than $2 billion annually to nonprofits, much of it through employee matching gift programs.

Depending on your employer’s offerings, some of the most popular giving programs you can get involved in include:

Popular employee giving programs for supporting a cause, as described in more detail below.
  • Matching gifts. Businesses with these programs will financially match the gifts their employees make to charitable causes, typically at a 1:1 ratio. When you donate to an eligible organization, all you have to do is submit a matching gift request. Then, once it’s approved, your employer will send the matched funds to the organization.
  • Volunteer grants. Volunteer grants, similar to matching gifts, involve your employer donating to an organization that you regularly volunteer with. You’ll typically have to serve a minimum number of hours and earn a certain amount of funding for every hour you contribute.
  • Payroll deductions. Through payroll deductions, you can automatically deduct a portion of your paycheck to go toward an organization of your choosing. This is a consistent and effortless option for supporting a good cause.
  • Skill-based volunteering. Your employer might plan business- or team-wide events to provide pro bono services to nonprofits. For example, a graphic design agency might enlist its employees to update a nonprofit’s branding and improve its visual identity online.

Some businesses will even offer volunteer time off (VTO) that you can take during the work week to devote to charitable causes you’re passionate about. Check your company handbook to see what programs you can participate in, and reach out to your employer if you have any questions.

Supporting a Cause: The Bottom Line

Supporting a cause in your community can lead to significant benefits for everyone involved. Generosity can bring you closer to others, add fulfillment to your life, and leave a positive mark on those you help. Whether you decide to contribute to online shopping fundraisers, become an advocate, or commit your time as a volunteer, simply making the effort to get involved can make a world of difference.

If you’d like to learn about more opportunities to support worthwhile causes, check out these additional resources:

Click through to learn more about ShopRaise and one of the most effective ideas for supporting a cause.
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