42 Incredible Ways to Pay it Forward

Looking for selfless ways to pay it forward? Me too. It doesn’t have to be kindness day to leave good energy wherever you go. So I created this resource to make a difference in someone else’s life. Whether you let someone go in front of you at the grocery store, or, give spare change to a homeless person, each random act is a blessing. So be the blessing for someone else whenever you have the chance.

Daily ways to pay it forward with random acts are bountiful. For example, leave encouraging notes on a car or bulletin board. Hold the door open, compliment a stranger, or pay for someone’s coffee. You can carry someone’s groceries in for them. Or loan something to a neighbor.

Finally, support your local business whenever you can, and be sure to leave a positive review. Those have huge impacts on small business owners. Please enjoy this list of pay it forward ideas.

Ways to Pay it Forward With Money

Are you looking for ways to help others while subsequently feeding your karma bank? Awesome! What you put out into the world comes back to you. My family and I compiled a list of ways we practice, or plan to fulfill, during our– pay it forward challenge. Here are forty-two incredible ways to help you and your family get started! And may God Bless You on your journey.

Are you a Christian? Take the money you are going to tithe to the church and help your family and friends instead! God knows your heart in giving. Be it a dollar or ten percent. Consider loving your neighbor a little differently this year. And watch God move in your life.

Don’t have any money but still have the heart of giving? Don’t fret. I’ve included a plethora of ways to offer your services and time too.

Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.

Bryant McGill

1. Pay Bills

Have you ever been asked about what you want for Christmas as an adult? I have. And at the time, I was a struggling, single mother. So what did I want?

Honestly, I wanted a bill paid. So I didn’t have to pick up extra shifts at work. I never saw my infant daughter, and it sucked. But no one asks Santa to pay the bills. Why not?

Do you know anyone in the situation I described above? A struggling family member, friend, or neighbor? You don’t have to be on an account to pay someone’s bill. Businesses have no issue with taking your money.

Bills to Pay it Forward

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Student Loans
  • Cell Phone
  • Internet/Cable
  • Mortgage/Rent
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Payment
  • Child Care
  • Credit Card

2. Deliver Dinner

Why do people only bring casseroles when tragedy strikes a family? People all over the world are going to bed hungry. Additionally, many families are surviving on dollar menus, and receiving home-cooked meals is a real treat.

Is there someone in your life to whom you could prepare and deliver meals that would benefit immensely from your generosity? A friend, co-worker, or family member? Do it! Or go grocery shopping and deliver multiple dinners instead. Give the gift of Instacart. It’s the best thing that’s come out of the pandemic in our household. If you use this Instacart link or use this code E485CC411C, we both get $10.00, woot!

3. Grocery Cards

Don’t know the person you are blessing well enough to stock their fridge? No problem, consider gifting grocery store cards instead. Most major retailers sell their brands at the register.

Alternatively, Amazon Fresh offers members carefully handpicked groceries, packed and delivered straight to their door. Do you know a family or friend that would benefit from this service? Make their life easier with a monthly gift or annual blessing.

4. Share The Meal

Download Share The Meal. It’s the first app to fight against global hunger. Just tap your screen for fifty cents to feed a child every day.

ShareTheMeal is an initiative of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Each year, WFP reaches 80 million people with food assistance. WFP is 100% voluntarily funded, so every donation counts. 90% of donations going directly to WFP operations that are building a world with zero hunger.


5. Extracurricular Activities

Do you know anyone who has a child but can’t afford extracurricular activities? Give the gift of dance, martial arts, sports, and more. Ask the parents if you can bless them and their child’s passion this year. See what works best with their schedule before swiping your card!

Extracurricular activities teach discipline, boost self-esteem, build confidence, and create friendships. They are crucial for keeping kids focused and out of trouble. Encourage the youth of today.

6. Summer Camp

Going to summer bible camp is one of my favorite childhood memories. I remember scriptures, songs, campfires with smores, and making friends. Do you have any nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or other kids that you could send to summer camp? Ask their parents and sign them up for an experience every child deserves.

If you don’t know any children but still want to send a child to camp, make a donation to the American Camp Association. Churches have camp programs and fundraising for camps too. Alternatively, call local camps and see what kind of care packages you can send.

7. Movie Tickets

Going to the movies is expensive! Especially for larger families. Making it an activity that several people don’t experience often. Bring a family together with a night out. Give movie tickets to people in your life that could use a family adventure or date night.

8. Finance Experiences

Speaking of date night, give the gift of experiences. Do you know a couple that can’t (or doesn’t) afford nights out? Such as the opera, ballet, museum, concert, or sporting event? Perhaps, you know a family who would benefit from a Disney on Ice extravaganza?

Bring joy to the people around you. By sharing tickets to arts, passions, and opportunities that they might not otherwise experience.


9. Tip Generously

Many professionals survive on their tips. I’ve been a server barely making it before. Generous tippers were the smiles I needed to survive. Leave an extra-wide smile on the next face you encounter, by paying it forward in the tipping world. Also, if given a chance, leave a positive review. Service industry workers appreciate them and sometimes are responsible for ensuring they receive them.

Ways to Pay it Forward Tipping These Professionals

  • Servers
  • Baristas
  • Bartenders
  • Delivery Drivers
  • Food/Pizza Drivers
  • Taxi/Uber/Lyft Drivers
  • Valet Staff
  • Bathroom Attendants
  • Airport Porters
  • Hairdressers
  • Nail/Salon/Spa
  • Massage Therapists
  • Hotel Workers
  • Places With Tip Jars

Did I miss any professionals who rely on tips to supplement their income? My apologies. Please add them to the comments below. So that I may amend my list.

10. Home Services

Pay it forward with Amazon Home Services. Help a friend or neighbor in need. By providing them with service pros from each industry. This gift is perfect for people who lack the time or know-how. It’s ideal for anybody in your life who is moving. And for seniors or those with limited mobility.

Amazon Home Services Ways to Pay it Forward

  • House Cleaning
  • Furniture Assembly
  • TV Wall Mounting
  • Handyman Repairs Electrical/Plumbing
  • Wall Hanging
  • Moving Cleaning
  • Carpet Cleaning
  • iPhone Repair
  • Exercise Equipment Assembly
  • Smart Home Device Installation

11. Layaway Angel

Visit your local store’s layaway department and pay off the balance on random accounts. Ask if you can leave an anonymous note in the account and have them type– God, bless you— for the intended recipient.

12. Rent to Own

One less bill with an out-of-this-world interest rate is a huge blessing to any family in these circumstances. Stop at one of those rent-to-own businesses and buy someone the furniture or television they’re massively overpaying for. Financial breathing room right before Christmas is a welcomed blessing.

13. Payday Loans

Payday loans are a horrible trap that many families are stuck in. It’s a vicious cycle of paying high-interest rates and then having to re-loan the money in order to pay the bills. Help a family get ahead by eliminating that debt for them.

14. Next In Line

Buy the coffee order for the next person in line or the person behind you and pay it forward with java. Toss in a bagel or scone for some added love. Make it easy on the barista and pay cash. Throw them a $20 and tell them to keep the change. It’s a double dose of karma and it doesn’t hold up the line or stress the barista. Also, Mark Ruffalo started this trend. Hulk out! Alternatively, leave money in a vending machine for the next person in line and let them discover the excitement of having a Twix bar on the house.

15. Stranger’s Check

Next time you’re dining out– watch the restaurant for a family to bless and then pick up their check anonymously. As a former server who has had the pleasure of telling families that their entire check has been paid for by a stranger, I can assure you it’s magical. They’ve cried. I’ve cried. It’s nice to be singled out in the world for a random act of kindness. Be sure to add a gratuity for their server.

16. Fill a Tank

Are there any commuters in your life? Gas expenses fluctuate but for those with limited resources, they’re always expensive! Fill up your loved one’s tank and alleviate that headache for the week. Additionally, purchase gas cards and gift them to people in your daily encounters who would benefit from them. Alternatively, pull up to the pump at the grocery store and pay for someone else’s gas at the pump.

17. Gift Tuition

Give the gift of education and change somebody’s life today. You can qualify for the federal gift tax educational exclusion when paying for anyone’s tuition. It’s no secret that college is expensive and relevant to the success of many. Watch the story below for an inspiring story of selflessness. Warning– may require tissues.

18. Support Local Businesses Ways to Pay it Forward

Spend your money locally and keep small and family-owned companies in the business. Love your neighbors and local shop owners by committing to making purchases from their stores.

19. Make a Deposit

You don’t have to be in a person’s bank account to deposit money into it. As long as you know their bank, you can fill out a deposit slip and add some funds to their account. Naturally, you won’t receive an account balance or statement of their account. Some banks, like Chase, won’t allow you to deposit cash. But you can deposit a check with a message in the memo line reading— God Bless You– so they know it was an intentional deposit and who to give the glory to.

20. Amazon Prime

Give the gift of Amazon Prime and bless a loved one with free shipping and the convenience of delivery. This gift is perfect for busy families, students (special discount), or people with disabilities and limited mobility who prefer to shop online.

As someone with partial vision, I attest to the fact that having your needs delivered is much less intimidating than having to drive.

21. GoFundMe

People around the world are raising money for what they are passionate about at GoFundMe. So visit the categories and read some of the stories there are of people in need of money.

There are emergencies, memorials, and medical funds. As well as wedding, honeymoon, and dreamer funds. Give anonymous donations to stories that move you. Pray that God helps you find the right recipients to receive his blessings.

22. Buy From Friends

Do you have friends and family flooding your social media feed with their businesses and products? Support them!

Does your friend work for a commission? Support them! Do you know any real estate, insurance, or literary agents? What about retail sales including cell phones, cars, clothing, and home repairs?

Doing business with them is one of many simple ways to pay it forward. Especially since it doesn’t cost you anything extra to make someone else’s day.

Selfless Ways to Pay it Forward at No Extra Cost to You

In fact, there are plenty of ways to pay it forward without any additional cost to you.

23. Credit Card Rewards

Did you know that most major credit cards allow you to donate your rewards to a charity? It’s true. In fact, many companies will even allow you to transfer points to family members. Here is how to donate credit cards and reward points to charity.

24. Hotel and Travel Points

Give your hotel and credit card rewards to charities including, Hotels for Heroes, the Red Cross, and Unicef. Here is the donation information for each airline.

25. Walk for Charity Ways to Pay it Forward

Or even go for a run using platforms like Charity Miles. For every mile you move, you help earn money for your charity from their corporate sponsorship pool. Friends can also sponsor you.

26. Affiliate Sales Ways to Pay it Forward

Do you know anyone who operates a website, podcast, or vlog? Chances are they have monetized their services and depend on affiliate sales to subsidize their income.

Affiliate links are links to products, services, and sites that a blogger recommends that they receive a small commission from if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Many companies offer bloggers a small commission on your entire purchase. Regardless of whether you purchased the item that was linked on their site.

From best list posts to articles that fully review one, or a few, products that they truly believe in. If you know someone who blogs, choose to visit their sites before making online purchases.

Why wouldn’t you invest in the people you love? Blogging is a lot of hard work. Involving long hours, and it typically takes considerable time before experiencing financial success. I imagine that’s also true of podcasting and vlogging. Boost their morale and encourage their dream.


Selfless Ways to Pay it Forward With Time

Don’t have any money to give? I’ve been there. Too often. And I’ve found the best way to dig myself out of that hole is by giving what I can. Eventually, it translates to money. But there are several acts of service that don’t require giving any money at all.

27. Spend Time

Spending time is one of the most overlooked but appreciated ways to give something back to others. I’ve heard it expressed that it is difficult getting old because there is no one to talk to. Give the time you have to those who need it.

When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.

Rick Warren

28. Pray Intentionally

Pray for people with purpose and intention. What does that person want or need in their life? Ask God’s guidance over your words and open a dialogue. Pray for their situation, finances, family, and whatever else the Lord puts on your heart. Ask them if there is anything in their life that they would appreciate prayer about. You’d be surprised how many people volunteer their needs.

Keeping a prayer journal is a wonderful way to spend time with God. It’s fun to read past prayers while you’re currently observing the fruit of them.

29. Free Babysitter

Offer your babysitting services to neighbors, friends, and family members who need a night off. Trust me, they likely all need one! Eliminate their headache of finding and paying for a reputable childcare giver and offer that service to them free of charge. Give them an evening out.

30. Free Childcare

Can you volunteer scheduled time consistently? For example, after school for a few hours. Do you have a night off to take them to and from an activity so that mom and dad can have a break? Schedules fill up and overwhelm quickly. Alleviate some of that stress and volunteer your childcare services as one of your ways to give.

Popular Reading – 12 Compassionate Acts of Kindness Examples to Start Now

31. Volunteer Time Ways to Pay it Forward

Nursing homes, hospitals, the homeless, and animal shelters are all wonderful places to volunteer your time. Check out Volunteer Match for the largest network in the nonprofit world. With the most volunteers, nonprofits, and opportunities to make a difference. Get connected today.

32. Volunteer Services

Do you have any services or skills that you can volunteer your time to help others with? Offer your services within your community or at a local business.

Volunteering Skills to Pay it Forward

  • Tax Preparation
  • Childcare
  • Car Mechanics
  • Home Repairs
  • Writing/Editing
  • Cleaning Services
  • Landscaping
  • Computer Skills
  • House Painting

Be aware of liability and homeowner laws. Before offering free services. As they vary from state to state.

33. Tutoring

Become a volunteer tutor and help others excel in skills you can teach. Visit School on Wheels to learn more about becoming a volunteer tutor. And hey, great news! Teens can volunteer too! Become a virtual volunteer at TeensGive.org and help underserved communities, homeless families, and former gang members in rehabilitation

34. Fundraising

If you don’t have the money to donate, volunteer to help plan a fundraiser to collect the funds instead.

35. Listen Quietly

Sometimes the best thing you can give someone is an ear to listen. Don’t listen to relate, or solve their issues. Allow them to express their feelings and listen to be a friend.

Donating Selfless Ways to Pay it Forward

There are hundreds (thousands) of ways to donate your time, services, resources, expertise, and more. Search for opportunities within your community to make a local impact if you want to make donations instead. Donate for a good cause.

36. Donate Blood

The number one reason to donate blood is that it saves people’s lives. What other reason do you need to donate? Check out the Red Cross eligibility requirements and consider saving lives in lieu of tithes.

37. Donate Hair

Donating your hair to make wigs for cancer patients is one of the more admirable ways to give. Several different organizations exist that accept hair donations for wigs. Visit the story below before choosing where to make your hair donation.

38. Donate Books and Clothing

Purge your closet and gift your clothing to friends, and family that needs it. Alternatively, these are some of the best places to donate clothes.

Give the gift of entertainment and education by donating your books to others. Does your neighborhood have a little free library where you can leave or take a book? If not, build one! Additionally, donate books to people in Africa or soldiers overseas.

39. Donate Food

Unfortunately, the holidays are the only time most people donate (or even think about) donating food. Food banks serve people’s needs year-round and can always use more food. Call your local food bank and ask them what they need and deliver the goods. You can also give them a check and let them get what they need to best serve the community. Do you own a business that has unnecessary food waste? Donate baked goods and other permitted foods.

Also, the homeless shelter and animal shelter facilities take different types of donations including food. Check with your local shelters to see what they need because they always need something.

40. Donate Arts and Crafts

Are you a crafty person? Consider donating handmade items for raffles and fundraisers that collect money to do good in the world.

41. Donate Organs Ways to Pay it Forward

Becoming an organ donor is as easy as clicking here. Nobody wants to think about a young or untimely death. However, it’s responsible and charitable to volunteer your organs in the event of a tragedy. Life happens. Being an organ donor is humbling yourself in death to save the life, or lives, of many.

42. Donate Money

Before you start writing checks, be sure to research the charities and organizations that you donate to. Many nonprofits and charitable organizations aren’t always what they appear to be. So think before you donate, and make sure it’s really going to a good cause.

Another way to donate money is to donate your spare change to places such as the Ronald McDonald’s House Charities. The boxes are under the drive-thru windows. Or you can call your local animal shelter or homeless shelters to see if they are taking monetary donations.

Tips for a Successful Year Ways to Pay it Forward

  • Give all the glory to God with a gracious heart.
  • Pick which ways work best for your family and budget them in.
  • Don’t allow pride and ego to interfere or take over.
  • Try giving blessings anonymously as much as possible.
  • Don’t brag about what you’re doing. Don’t post it on social media for clout.
  • Share it when you can influence others into finding joy in helping others while feeding their karma banks.

Let God work through you and become a witness and a believer in miracles. If you enjoyed this resource please bless me with a social share? Or leave encouraging comments below. Thank you, those make my whole day!

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.