45 Beautiful Ideas to Pay It Forward


By paying it forward, you can make quite an important difference in this world. Not only will you brighten another person’s mood, but you will also set a chain reaction in motion. If you pay it forward to three people, who again pay it forward to three others themselves, the entire planet could be transformed. Affecting change doesn’t take much. You don’t have to be rich, powerful or influential. Every ordinary person can help to make this world a better place, for instance by paying it forward. In the following, you will find 83 beautifully selfless ways to pay it forward.

But what is the concept of paying it forward all about? What does it mean to pay something forward? The idea behind paying it forward is that whenever you benefit of a good deed, you let others participate by doing a (random) good deed, instead of repaying the benefactor. However, you don’t necessarily have to wait until someone does you a good deed. You can also be the one who starts paying it forward, the one who sets it all in motion.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston S. Churchill

The thrill of paying it forward is that you do something really good for someone would did not at all expect this kind act. You don’t necessarily have to pay it forward only to people you know. Quite the contrary, you can pay it forward to basically every individual that you can somehow get in touch with.

Pay it forward ideas

There are many ways to pay something forward. In the following you can find inspiring ideas to pay it forward.

Doing a good deed to an unsuspecting stranger is a beautifully selfless act. Not only will it remind them that this world is full of selflessness, generosity, and kindness. It will also encourage the benefactor to be kinder and more compassionate to others.

Ideas to Pay It Forward

Whatever you give, you will receive back in manifold ways. The following will address how you can pay it forward and will give you brilliant ideas to pay it forward.

How to Pay It Forward?

  • Look out for the opportunities. Life will provide you with numerous opportunities to pay it forward. You only have to be attentive.
  • Be willing to help complete strangers. There may not always be an opportunity to do your family or friends a good deed. But you can always help those who are in need, even if they are complete strangers.
  • Give freely without expecting anything in return. Many people will ask you how they can reimburse you for your kindness. You can introduce these people to the idea of paying it forward. Tell them that you don’t expect anything in return, but that you would greatly appreciate it if they could pay the good deed forward.
  • Even small acts count. It doesn’t matter so much how much you give. All that matters is that you are willing to give and to spread the word.

45 Ideas to Pay It Forward

Let’s continue with some really beautiful and selfless ways you can pay it forward. Enjoy the following pay it forward ideas!

  1. Do a good deed to a homeless person. There are so many things you can do for a homeless person. Ask them if they want a coffee or a pizza slice of the restaurant they sit next to. Drop them something to eat you’ve bought in the supermarket. The opportunities are endless.
  2. Pay for someone’s coffee. When buying a coffee, you can casually pay the coffee or tea of the person behind you. It’s a fantastic way to brighten their mood. The idea of paying a coffee forward worked so incredibly well in Canada that more than 200 consecutive orders were paid forward. That is until someone who was paid four coffees was not willing to pay the three coffees of the person behind them.
  3. Participate in a cleanup day. Cleanup days are a fantastic way to contribute your part in helping to preserve mother nature.
  4. Donate some of your cloth. Have a look in your closet. If there are many items you haven’t worn for years, consider donating some of them.
  5. Run for a good cause. Numerous charity runs (or walks and bicycle rides) are held each year. Sign-up for the next one and participate in raising funds for a good cause.
  6. Ask for donations instead of gifts. Many people wonder how they can do something good without having to spend money. Well, by asking people to donate for a good cause instead of buying you a birthday/Christmas/wedding gift, you can do a good deed without having to spend anything.
  7. Free up spare change. As the days pass by, you’ll notice that the spare change in your purse grows bigger and bigger. The next time you come across a payment machine, be sure to throw a couple of quarters in it for the next person. You can do this with basically any payment machine, for example, parking ticket terminals, parking meters but also paying for the next person’s vehicle fee at a toll booth.
  8. Donate your books. There are two types of books. The first type consists of really good books that you pick up again and again. The second type consists of books that were – more or less – interesting to read but no longer serve a purpose. You could donate all the books you no longer need, for instance to your local library.
  9. Leave a good book behind. Once you’ve finished reading an excellent book, consider leaving it for someone else to read. No matter if you’re in a cafe, train, bus or airplane, leaving a copy of a book behind is a nice way to lighten someone’s mood.
  10. Smile at someone. Give someone a smile. You’ll see that many people will quickly loosen up and return the smile.
  11. Return lost items. If you’ve ever found a purse with hundreds of dollars in it, you know how tempting it is to simply take the money and run. But always try to consider how you would feel if you had lost your wallet shortly before buying something expensive. Plus, you really get to make someone’s day by being honest and returning whatever is lost.
  12. Become someone’s mentor. You can always mentor someone. It’s free and there will be always people younger and less experienced than you who could greatly benefit from your knowledge.
  13. Donate blood. By donating your blood, you can potentially help another person to live. What could be more beautiful than doing something that helps someone else to stay alive?
  14. Buy something from a kid’s lemonade stand. Many kids sell lemonade or old toys. Be sure to buy something from them, it will make them incredibly happy and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
  15. Donate 5-10% of your income. By cutting your expenses for things you don’t really need, you’ll have quite a lot of money left over that you can donate to a good cause.
  16. Offer your services for free. There are many lawyers and psychologists who offer their services entirely for free for those who are in need. You could do the same by sharing your service for free. It certainly won’t hurt your business and if you’re a service provider, it only costs you some of your time.
  17. Listen to someone’s story. Many people don’t have someone who listens to them, someone who cares about them. You could be that someone. You don’t even have to find a solution to all their problems, sometimes it simply takes someone who is willing to listen.
  18. Give some words of encouragement. There are many situations in life where we see the most ludicrous things happen to strangers. Don’t be the one who just stops to stare, be the one who helps them to get back up.
  19. Help someone improve their life. Making beneficial changes in your life is all about knowledge. If you’ve gone through a tough time and if you’ve found crafty hacks that helped you to overcome the difficulties, consider sharing them with other people. Your advice may greatly help them to overcome the difficulties as well.
  20. Be forgiving. Life will confront you with numerous opportunities to lose your patience. Perhaps someone is “stealing” your parking spot. Or the intern made another terrible mistake. Whatever it is, be willing to forgive others immediately. Be kind about their weaknesses and try to see yourself in them.
  21. Encourage others with Post-it notes. There are many places where people could greatly use some encouragement. If you have the time, consider posting some motivating or encouraging notes in these places.
  22. Spend some time with the elderly. There are many people in retirement homes that have no one who comes visiting. You could drop by your local old-age home and ask if there’s someone whose day you could brighten.
  23. Pay the animal shelter a visit. Your closest animal sanctuary will most likely be glad if you’re willing to spend some time with their dogs or cats. In many cases, it’s possible to take a walk with a dog.
  24. Pray for someone in need. Many people consider praying as something that is incredibly powerful. If there is someone you know who is in need, you cannot lose much by including them in your prayers. Sent them some love and wish them the necessary strength it takes to see things through.
  25. Share your umbrella. When it’s raining, let someone stand with you under your umbrella.
  26. Pay someone an honest compliment. If you see someone doing something really great, don’t shy away from giving them a competent. You can give out compliments for basically everything, you only need to seize the opportunity.
  27. Eat more vegetarian. You don’t necessarily have to become a vegetarian or even a vegan. Simply integrate one or two vegetarian days in your week. Your body and general health will thank you for it. At the same time, you could stop buying unhealthy, hormone-laden meat from the supermarket and instead buy organic from a local farm. It’s a great statement against treating animals poorly. Eat less meat, but when you do eat meat, make sure it’s of a good quality.
  28. Put coupons on community boards. Whenever you have a coupon that you don’t need, be sure to put it on a notice-board or post the coupon code online. There will always be someone who can make use of it.
  29. Offer to take a photo. Especially tourists from Japan are incredibly shy when it comes to asking someone to take a photo of them in front of an attraction. If you see someone taking pictures of their family, offer to take the picture so that this person can be alongside their family on the photo.
  30. Leave your change where kids will easily find it. Remember that awesome day when you found some money when you were a little child? Well, now it’s your turn to pay this wonderful feeling forward to another child. Leave some of your change somewhere you know that kids will instantly spot it.
  31. Mow the lawn for an elderly person. There are many people who can no longer take care of their gardens themselves. Taking care of their garden is a fantastic way to pay it forward.
  32. Be nice to customer service personal. Treat service personal kindly and be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their service. It can greatly brighten their mood, especially when they are confronted with ungrateful, harsh and impolite customers all the time.
  33. Pick up garbage. Many people are so careless about nature that they simply throw things away right where they are. By picking up some garbage, you can relieve the burden these ignorant people place on nature.
  34. Carry someone’s bags. If you see an old lady struggling with all her bags from the grocery store, offer your help.
  35. Loan something without expecting it to be returned. There are people who simply won’t accept a gift from you. But if you tell them that you’re just loaning whatever you have to give, they will gladly accept the help. You don’t necessarily have to tell them that you don’t intend on calling it in again.
  36. Give up your seat. Offer your seat to an elderly person or a woman. They will greatly appreciate your good deed.
  37. Do pro bono work. You wouldn’t believe how many skills you have that could be greatly used in charitable or non-profit projects. If you have some time to spend, doing pro bono work is a fantastic way of paying it forward.
  38. Let others in the line go in front of you. If you’re standing in the line at the supermarket and you see that the person behind you is buying only a couple of things, let them go in front of you.
  39. Help someone pursue their dream. What better way to pay something forward than helping someone accomplish their dream? If you find yourself in a position that allows you to help someone realize one of their dreams, offer your help.
  40. Say “yes” when someone asks for help. If someone asks you for help, see if you can help in any way shape or form. You may not always be able to solve the problem, but you can at least help to alleviate its effects.
  41. Fill out a survey for a student. If you’ve ever written a scientific paper, you know how difficult it is to find people who are willing to participate in a study. By helping a student, you do not only make their day, but you do also contribute to science’s advancement.
  42. Write a positive review of good businesses. Local business owners can need all the support they can get. If you’ve come across a business whose owner does an incredible job, it’s time to spread the word.
  43. Tell someone they made a difference in your life. There are many kindhearted people out there who give without asking for anything in return. If you’ve ever benefited greatly from someone’s kind actions, writing a letter is a fantastic way to thank your benefactor. Doing so will encourage them to continue giving freely.
  44. Next time you leave a country, leave your pocket money behind. If you leave a country for good, you could leave the exchange money you have left for someone living in this country. Chances are high that you won’t need the coins ever again unless you plan on returning.
  45. Sponsor a child. There’s always the opportunity to sponsor underprivileged children from your own country or other countries.
  46. Make a food donation to your local food bank. Your local food bank can need all the food they can get.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
Charles Dickens

We hope you enjoyed this collection of pay it forward ideas. We’re excited to hear from you about your creative ideas to pay it forward. Let us know in the comment section below.

Stay victorious!


About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!


  1. Epic list; it could literally go on forever.

    Like you said; look for opportunities. Being on the lookout for ways to pay it forward is one of the best ways to come across an opportunity to be selfless.

    Let’s face it; not everyone will come across all (or any) of these ideas. Thus; you must be on the constant lookout for chances to take. Otherwise if you don’t, it will slowly slip out of your mind and you will never do anything to pay it forward. Remember that! Keep it in your mind always.

    Overall; epic post I loved it! 🙂

  2. I am making a Pay It Forward Board at home and came to this article for ideas. I love them! Thank you for sharing. I can only see 46 ideas, whereas the title says 82. Did I miss a link to a second page? I would love to snag as many ideas as I can from you.

  3. Great list, and as you know, we could all add to it easily with some of the Pay It Forward deeds we have all done for others. I have been using this concept of People Helping People, Give To Receive, Care and Share, in business, and nothing will fact track your road to success more quickly than following these strategies. Taking these lessons in life utilizing the Pay It Forward mindset, everyone can succeed in what ever goals you set for yourself.

    Success to all.

  4. our town does a pay it forward for different charities, resident’s choose one of their interest the monies are then paid at the borough building do you have anyway that we can make others aware of what we are doing. thank you, Elaine Kennedy

  5. Im thinking of starting a PIF group here where I live. There are several around but they are mostly people just asking or giving awat clothing etc. I want to concentrate on more than just that.

  6. Wholesome Wallet on

    Wow, really heart warming article. There’s good in this world, and if you receive it from someone, the least you can do is pay it forward.

  7. How about everyone paying our hairdresser, barber, and others who perform things for us — just send them a check for whatever they usually charge perhaps minus tip. Send it to their house or business address now and when things open up again they might still be in business if we all did that!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. The series, Designated Survivor, ended S2E5 with a valuable lesson about the responsibility of people who are fortunate. “ People who are lucky, need to pay it forward”.
    It’s great to have TV entertainment illustrate good virtues !!
    Thank you for all of your examples that we can put into use on a daily basis and “pay it forward”…!!

  9. Thank you for this, was looking to start this initiative in our community. This article is just perfect in stirring our ideas in starting the chain. Can’t wait to share the long list that could melt someone’s heart.

  10. Christians thinking that praying for someone actually helps them in any way, and doing NOTHING else but praying, is not paying it forward. Even if you believe in the power of prayer, simply praying for someone, accompanied by zero action, is useless. “Faith without works is dead, and alone.” – Paul.

  11. Thank you Steve and everyone else who is putting Pay it Forward plan into their daily lives. I just became aware of the Pay it Forward movement and I can not express how deeply Pay it Forward has touched me. I truly believe kindness to others is so important. It makes a difference not only in their lives today but can also have a positive effect in their future and others they come in contact with. I love to craft and I believe I’m being called to create and give to others, nothing fancy, just what I ‘m capable of. I’m asking our Lord to guide and inspire me and others to show simple kindness to others. We live in an awesome world now, but we have to pay attention to those around us. Just imagine what it would be like if all humanity were to Pay It Forward, a peace of heaven on earth. 🙂 Keep the movement going 🙂

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