Making an impact even with a little

You don’t need a fortune to be a philanthropist. For example, you can:

Start a charitable fund. A number of community foundations let you funnel as little as $1,000 a year into donor-advised funds, and let you choose the recipient. You contribute cash, stocks or other property — and take a tax deduction for your contribution each year — until you reach a certain threshold, typically $5,000 or $10,000.

Give to a classroom. What better way to spend your charitable dollars than to help teachers help kids? At DonorsChoose.org, you get your pick of teacher-proposed projects. DonorsChoose makes the purchase and sends it to the teacher.

Volunteer on vacation. Use your next vacation to give something back.

Or you can be an angel for as little as $100: Upstart allows you to give money to entrepreneurial college graduates. You can invest in $100 increments in one “upstart” or as many as you choose. You’ll receive a modest portion of the company’s income — up to an annual rate of return of 14.99 percent — for 10 years.  You can also contribute to projects through Kickstarter, which focuses more on creative individuals who want to raise money to produce films, music and art.

Microsoft has given $1 billion to 31,000 non-profits

Microsoft is celebrating 30 years of giving, a huge milestone for the Redmond-based software company. And at a press conference, the company also announced that it has given $1 billion in donations to more than 31,000 non-profit groups during that time.

“We stood up in times of crisis and helped the people in Japan, in Pakistan, in Haiti,” said CEO Steve Ballmer.

Needless to say, Microsoft has given time and money that has had a huge impact around the world.

It’s a culture of generosity that was started by co-founder Bill Gates, who credits his parents for setting an example of philanthropy and encouraged him to start a giving program.