National Day of Service

Monday, January 19 is Martin Luther King Day. And wonderfully, instead of adding yet another shopping day to the calendar, it’s being transformed to a day of service.

If every person in the US spent an hour doing something selfless, useful and leveraged, what would happen? What if you and your circle committed to doing it an hour a day for a year? 300 million hours is a lot of hours for just one day, a year of that would change everything.

While I applaud stopgap contributions like helping out in a soup kitchen (where labor and supplies are really needed), I wonder how those that are lucky enough to be web savvy can create work that really adds leverage. What if you did one of these things every day?

Here are some ideas that you can do online or in your community, with time, not so much with money.

  1. Read a copy of the Lorax to a child that’s never heard it.
  2. Teach someone how to sell their services on Craigslist, or how to use the web to find a job.
  3. Build a Squidoo lens every day for a year about a favorite author or musician and dedicate the proceeds to charity. 300 a year could earn tens of thousands of dollars for a cause you care about. That adds up to serious money.
  4. Start a blog and profile one worthy non-profit every single day.
  5. Go through your house and find beloved books that you’re glad you read… and give them to the library.
  6. Find an artisan and redesign their website or help them figure out how to promote their work.
  7. Create and promote an online petition for a cause you care about.
  8. Make a video that teaches people how to do better in a job interview or balance a checkbook or spot consumer fraud.
  9. Start a Facebook group for like-minded people who support the same non-profit you do. Commit to spending time to promote it, organize the people there and actually create outcomes of value.
  10. Seek out a religion that isn’t yours and volunteer to help build a bridge between your circle and theirs.
  11. Write ten letters a day to corporations seeking donations for a local homeless shelter.
  12. Find a tool that non-profits need online, and then organize some brilliant people to build it as an opensource utility.
  13. Find a cause that supports soldiers or diplomats or other public servants that are on the road, and make it easier for them to connect with people back home.
  14. Use Copilot to diagnose and fix computer problems for people or causes that can’t afford fancy IT support. It’s free on weekends.
  15. Find an entrepreneur in the developing world and become her email penpal. Daily advice and encouragement might save hundreds of lives.
  16. Lobby Congress with letters and blog posts to make a change to a law that doesn’t benefit you at all, but helps the community in the long run.
  17. Write a great wikipedia article every day about a person who is changing the world for the better.
  18. Find video and remix it into an insanely viral video that promotes a cause that you believe in.

If you want to add some brainstorms to the list, here’s a plexo just waiting for your ideas.