By Michael Pelehach
Whether you’re a Kellogg student or just starting to consider business school, I’m guessing free time is a scarce commodity for you.
As current students, our calendars are overflowing with classes, group meetings, company information sessions and a bustling social life. As prospective students, you’re likely balancing a full time job with GMAT practice tests, essay writing and interview preparation. Being busy isn’t a bad thing, but it might cause your priorities to change; things that are typically important to you might suddenly drop to the bottom of your to-do list.
According to the Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of millennials made a charitable donation last year. Of those who donated, roughly half contributed more than $100. Such statistics have earned us recognition as “The Giving Generation.” While there are arguably more effective ways than charitable giving to make an impact, these statistics show our generation’s commitment to making the world a better place.
I’d guess that for most of you, attending business school or exploring it as a next step has made that tough. I’ve learned from talking to classmates that many of us want to give back but simply have trouble carving out the time for it. What if I told you there were easy ways you could have a positive impact without spending an extra dime?
Because the Internet seems to be obsessed with lists these days, I’m going to share “3 Easy Ways To Improve Society Without Spending An Extra Dime.” While I can’t guarantee it will be as riveting as “15 Charts Anyone Who Has Taken A Shower Can Relate To” or “The 13 Most Influential Candy Bars Of All Time” (each of which actually populated my Facebook newsfeed this week), hopefully it will help you find a way to incorporate impact into your busy lives.
Back in 2013, Amazon launched Amazon Smile — an online shopping platform that gives .5% of all sales made to charity. It’s easy to use and has the exact same interface you know and love. Simply visit www.smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your purchases to benefit and start shopping. Not sure which charity to pick? My recommendation is Room to Read, a nonprofit started by Kellogg alum and former Microsoft Executive John Wood that tackles global problems with literacy and gender inequality in education.
Microfinance strives to offer basic financial services to the world’s poor, many of whom are living on $2 per day or less. Since being started by Muhammad Yunus in the 1970s, microfinance has reached millions. Kiva, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, has played a huge role in spreading microfinance. Users can log on to Kiva.org, easily search individuals in need of credit for small business ventures, and make microloans for as little as $25. Over the past few years, I’ve extended loans to micro entrepreneurs in 20 different countries and have been paid back 100% of the time (amazingly, Kiva boasts a 98.4% repayment rate).
How many times do you Google something in a given day? Five? Ten? Twenty? Kellogg gives us numerous opportunities to search business school essentials: “Why is a Statement of Cash Flows important” or “How do I calculate the change in net working capital?” Goodsearch.com is a search engine that donates one penny from each search’s advertising revenue to a cause of your choice. It might not sound like a lot, but it adds up! My 3,443 searches have contributed just under $35 to Kiva, while the entire Goodsearch community has raised more than $12 million for charities, schools and community groups.
I encourage you to explore these effortless ways to improve society. However, if none of these is appealing to you, there are plenty of other ideas out there. Just Google Goodsearch it!
Michael Pelehach is a first-year student at Kellogg and a director on the Net Impact careers team. His experiences doing international development work in Peru and teaching English in Bulgaria motivated him to get his MBA and transition into a social impact career.