• Heather Topf

5 cheap or free random acts of kindness

Updated: May 11, 2021

I try to keep random acts of kindness not random but routine. However, since the pandemic began and I started spending much more (read all) time at home, it's something I've done less and less of, just by lack of exposure.

According to Wikipedia, way back when in 1982 a woman named Anne Herbert wrote "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a placemat in a bar in California as the antithesis to the phrase "random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty".

11 years later she'd publish the book "Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty" in 1993, stuffed full of real-life tales of kindness & beauty.

I don't know about you, but I tend to mainly see fancy random acts of kindness splashed across social media.

The stories of someone leaving the cash on your car to replace a full set of tires with no caveat except pay it forward sometime. Celebs paying college tuitions and influencers giving takeaway drivers a grand in tips or renting a homeless person a flat for six months.

While these are undoubtedly incredible things to do, they're somewhat outside of my daily budget. Outrageous I know.

Here are five free or super cheap ways to give a random act of kindness that are so little effort on your part they might not even register but will make a HUGE impact on someone else's life.

Liking & sharing small business pages posts

By day I'm an Account Manager working in Digital Media leading with socials. By night I'm a Blogger and an extreme consumer of digital e-learning and creative content.

Between blogging & working with tonnes of independent businesses & SMEs I really really understand the impact it has when you click that like button on things you... like.

Authentic engagement is key in the social media space. I'm personally not particularly interested in vanity metrics but knowing people genuinely like my content makes it worthwhile. I'm not suggesting you go around liking things willy-nilly, but if you're genuinely into something give it a like.

Engagement metrics are how people and businesses prove their worth and can have a massive impact on how much they're able to earn from making the content you're enjoying. It also helps them get seen by more people - all platforms algorithms favour those with content that's being engaged with.

So next time you see a TikTok or an Instagram post or blog that's genuinely cool and looks like someone's put a lot of effort into, drop it a like or a comment and make someone's day.

Facebook logo & thumbs up in blue on pin badges

Asking a homeless person what they'd like to eat

A couple of years ago I really hurt one of my eyes and ended up stuck inside for 5 months, in a lot of pain, super sensitive to light and blind in one eye. I'd also been out of the country for long enough in the years previous to the injury to not qualify for any help from the government.

At the time, I also had absolutely no savings.

I do however have a really supportive family and a great network of friends. I often think about how quickly I would have been homeless if that wasn't the case.

I always try and give people who are sleeping rough or begging some cash if I can spare it, or grab them a drink or something to eat. I regularly buy the Big Issue too, though I'm not sure I've ever actually opened a copy.

If you're able to do that, it's already a tick on the Random Acts of Kindness tally. But! Go one further, totally for free and ask that person how they're doing. Ask them if they'd like something and if so what? Maybe sit and eat together.

Imagine being so hungry you have to beg and people keep buying you tuna mayo sandwiches and you hate tuna mayo. You're hardly going to say no, are you? But it'd make no odds to you whatever if you bought cheese instead. Just sayin'.

Give a compliment

Similarly to liking things in the digital space, be genuine when you compliment someone.

Don't be a Regina George. Nobody wants that.


Giving a genuine, heartfelt compliment costs literally nothing and can quite literally make someone's day.

Even better, you can do it over and over again.

Just not to the same person. Don't be a creep.

Let someone cut in front of you in the supermarket or coffee shop

A very un-British suggestion I know. We do love a good orderly queue.

But if you're not in a hurry, why not let someone else cut in front of you?

If they've got two items and your trolly is bulging with things you promised you wouldn't buy, let them go ahead, go on.

Or if you're not in a hurry and they're visibly chewing at the bit to get outta there, why not let them skip? You never know someone else's circumstances. You could make a massive impact to their day and have forgotten about it yourself by the end of the day.

A birds eye view of people queuing outside a coffee shop

Filling out customer service forms

I've really tried to find the OG poster of this story - I wanted to use it as an example for something else, but in a very uncharacteristic problem (I am the Queen of locating stuff online 👑), I cannot find it.

So, if I've stolen your Tweet, please let me know so I can credit you (and follow you, you hilarious human).

I've hyped it up too much now. Nevermind. Here goes.

Basically, it was a screenshot of a customer satisfaction survey for something very boring. A niche piece of computer software or something and it had a ' on a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to recommend this to your friends' button.

This chap had answered 1.

The next box said something like 'Why have you given this answer' and he'd replied something like, 'People don't, and I cannot stress this enough, go around randomly recommending xyz to their friends'.

Pointless story aside, no one likes filling in those questionnaires. They're annoying, I know, I know.

But if you work in customer-facing roles, they can make a huge difference to your annual review and potentially your bonus.

I worked in a bank years ago and even if my customer satisfaction score was perfect if I didn't have a certain amount of them completed, no bonus for me.

I always think that's unfairly weighted towards people who haven't gotten good service - people are much more likely to bother filling in one of those if something's gotten up their nose.

So next time you get an email saying 'you spoke to our agent today, would you take a moment to review their service', take that moment. You might even put a little money in their pocket at no cost to you yourself.

Further reading: Little ways to treat yourself that don't cost the earth.

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