As we face the beginning of a new era in America, many of us are trying to figure out what we can do to be of service and to be more generous to those most in need. But we also have our own economic challenges, and are stretched thin for time. When our resources are so small and when the problems seem so vast, it's daunting to know where to begin to take actions that will feel like we're making any difference at all.
Charlie Pellett, a Bloomberg Radio host (who's also recognizable to millions of travelers every day as the voice of New York City's subway system), suggests thinking in terms of the large and small, identifying perhaps one trusted national organization and one local one that is doing work you support in your own community. Then set a realistic action plan for giving regularly and within your means.
The key to effective philanthropy, whatever your income, is first doing your homework. Pellett advises identifying organizations are doing the most efficient and transparent work for the causes you most care about via sites like Charity Navigator and Foundation Center. And he recommends the simple, old-fashioned strategy of looking to your friends. If you notice that the people you love and trust are supporting particular charity, it's probably one you would want to give your time or money to as well.