Those who follow charitable giving know that a week rarely passes without news of a megadonor’s eight- or nine-figure philanthropic gift. Such donations are vitally important to our colleges and universities, hospitals, research facilities, and arts institutions. They are pivotal in lifting us as a society.

Downtown’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, an icon of Los Angeles, would not have been possible without the generosity of the Disney family, which contributed more than $100 million toward its construction. In addition to those lead gifts were thousands of donations from project supporters of ordinary means whose love for music and the city spurred them to give to this transformative building.

Put another way, if megagifts are the building blocks of philanthropy, then smaller contributions from a large number of other donors are the mortar.

As a philanthropy and nonprofit professional of more than 30 years, I know that each of us can make a difference in improving our world. Philanthropy is something everyone can do. It begins, simply enough, with a desire to help rebuild our world.

As a tumultuous 2016 comes to a close, this is an opportune time to reflect on how events have affected us, our families, and our society, and to consider how we can be personally engaged in being charitable – in Hebrew the word is chesed, an act of kindness.

Here are five tips on how donors can make a difference:

• Find causes that speak to you. Ask yourself what you can contribute to these causes – financially, volunteering your time, or both – to make a meaningful impact. Think about acting collaboratively with friends or family members to leverage your resources with the power of collective action. Consider joining a local giving circle; addressing pressing societal issues affecting women, children and families; participating in community activities such as Big Sunday, which organizes hundreds of volunteer opportunities; or crowdsourcing or other online campaigns. The viral success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, for example, resulted in more than $100 million in contributions which made a huge impact on ALS research, services, and public awareness.

• Embrace volunteering. One of society’s greatest and earliest movements, volunteerism is enormously gratifying. Locally, we are blessed with a groundswell of grassroots charities, many in the form of startups by social entrepreneurs inspired to solve an unmet need. These can benefit not only from your financial support but also from your ideas and expertise – in fundraising, marketing, or organizational development – and through the simple act of introducing them to others who might also be passionate about their work.

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