5. Get others to pitch in with you.
Start with your employer. Thousands of businesses match the amount staffers give to charity. About one out of six companies also provide a cash grant to a nonprofit on behalf of employees who donate their time to the cause. So by logging 20 hours for a local Meals on Wheels group, you not only help feed the elderly and infirm but also enrich the coffers of the organization, according to HEP Development, a fund-raising advisory firm based in Leesburg, Virginia.
You can also become a mini marketer for your charity online. The Causes application on Facebook lets users request donations from friends. And on Twitter, it's easy to make your case in a tweet and include a link where followers can donate.
Perhaps the most rewarding way to get friends involved is by creating a "giving circle," a group that decides to get behind a specific cause. After her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, Tracy Brown, a mom of two who lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, started a circle for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure's walkathon, which supports breast-cancer research. "We found 15 women to do it and came up with a plan for raising money." The group, named Phi Mammo Grama, held bake sales and yard sales to raise the $2,300 per person minimum donation for the 60-mile, three-day walk.
Some giving circles are enormous. Impact Austin, which supports education, health, family, and other causes in Austin, Texas, has more than 500 members and a board of directors. To join, you must be female and donate at least $1,000 a year. "It's a big commitment, but I really believe in what they're doing," says Anne Webster, a mother of three from Austin. Visit givingcircles.org to find a group that shares your giving spirit.