It may feel good to flip a fiver to the guy on the corner with the "Testing for Human Kindness" sign, but will it amount to lasting change? As someone who works for the Tipping Point Community, I'm interested in making more people aware of things they can do everyday – even small gestures – that can make a difference.

If you really want to support the folks around you while creating a better community (and who wouldn't?), here are some tips to be a better Bay Area resident in a few simple steps.

Acknowledge people living on the street

Even if you don't give money, making eye contact, smiling, or having a short conversation is humanizing and shows you care.

Tip those who serve you

San Francisco’s economy thrives on a bustling service sector to meet the needs of tourists and locals alike. Our waiters, maintenance workers, and drivers are paid hourly and count on the income from well-deserved tips to make ends meet.

Work with a nonprofit that fits your passion

There are more than 15,000 human service non-profits in the Bay Area. Before you choose one to help, find one (or more!) that focuses on issues that you're personally excited about; you may be surprised how dedicated and committed you become once you're involved. 

Ask questions

Schedule a call to learn more about organizations that interest you. Better yet, do a site visit and ask the hard questions: What population do you serve and why? What differentiates your model from others? How do you measure your impact?

Say thank you

We are all part of one community, and a little acknowledgement goes a long way. Bus drivers, police officers, or that stranger who opened the door for you could use a small dose of gratitude.

Don't only give money to people on the street

Dollars given to organizations that provide essential services like housing, healthcare and job training will go further to support someone who is ready to change their life for good.

Help locally

You might not know it, but there are plenty of organizations in your local community that need your support.

Your time is often more important than money

Not everyone can donate money, but most organizations rely on volunteers for some aspect of their work.

Don’t be afraid to make a call

If you see a homeless person in immediate need, don’t hesitate to call 311, San Francisco’s 24-hour, seven days a week hotline offering solutions and services in non-emergency situations. If you are involved in or witness an emergency, dial 911.  

Keep dreaming big

There are countless approaches to social change that have yet to be tried. It starts small – either partnering with an existing organization or rallying support to start something new.

Photo via Thinkstock