In response to Haiti’s devastating earthquake, people from every walk of life immediately stepped up to lend a hand. A fundraising campaign done solely through text messages raised $24 million for the Red Cross in less than a week. (To donate, text “Haiti” to 90999. Your cell phone bill will be charged $10.) Celebrities joined the international outpouring of support. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen offered $1.5 million; actress Sandra Bullock gave $1 million, and singer Madonna donated $250,000. The Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie foundation and Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network pledged $1 million each, while cyclist Lance Armstrong’s foundation committed $250,000.

Other celebrities organized or volunteered their time for telethons. Actor George Clooney organized and co-hosted MTV’s “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon with singer Wyclef Jean. Larry King’s special two-hour program raised nearly $9 million, with help from Jennifer Lopez, Paula Abdul, John Mayer, Scarlett Johansson, Ryan Seacrest, Nicole Richie, and countless other stars.

U.S. corporations have also stepped up. Citigroup pledged $2 million, while Goldman Sachs and Bank of America donated $1 million each. As dean and cofounder of Paul Mitchell Schools, I called on the 100 schools in our network to unite in a nationwide fundraising effort. Our goal is $1,000 per school, times 100 schools, for a total of $100,000, and John Paul Mitchell Systems has pledged up to $10,000 in matching funds.

I’m very excited about all of these extremely large donations, but I’m equally excited when I hear that someone wrote a five- or a ten-dollar check. People often think it takes the million-dollar or thousand-dollar checks to raise money, but statistics show that 73% of the billions of dollars raised every year for charity comes from small donations-from people just like you and me who write those little checks. Maybe I can’t write a million-dollar check, but I can write a five- or a ten-dollar check. How about you? Can you do the same?

In addition to giving money, we can all make a difference in some other important ways. We all have influence and a circle of friends. Obviously, Oprah’s circle of friends is a lot larger than yours or mine, but what’s stopping us from starting a fundraising drive in our schools, communities, or workplaces? There’s no reason that we can’t create some kind of donation card and then go to our circle of friends and say, “If you donate a dollar, I’ll write your name on this card and tape it to the wall in my business place to let everyone know you helped!”

I don’t personally know anyone who was affected by this earthquake, and I’ve never even been to Haiti. But I am a human being, and I have a heart. When I watch TV, hear people’s stories, and see how they’re suffering, that motivates me to get involved and make a difference.

I challenge every family, individual, business, salon, and other organization to step up and do something, whether it’s recruiting three friends, 20 teammates, or hundreds of employees to get organized, active, and involved. Whenever there’s a problem in the world, people often say, “Somebody should do something.” I’m here to say, YOU are that somebody! Please get together with your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers and let’s get busy. YOU can make a difference, and I hope that you will.

About the Author:

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and “one of the best motivational speakers in the country,” according to CNN’s Larry King. A business owner for over 25 years with over 8,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Winn has helped thousands of businesses build their brands and create successful working cultures. His clients include Southwest Airlines, the Irvine Company, Vidal Sassoon, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited/Express, and others. Winn is a frequent guest on national radio and a regular contributor to online publications. Visit to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.