Charity work has been "life-changing" for the model and actress. Here, she shares tips on how everyone can learn to give a little wherever they can.

By By Pam O'Brien
September 20, 2018
Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Olivia Culpo is determined to better the world one way or another. And she wants you to join her. Here, she shares what you need to know about giving back.

Make it personal.

"I believe that if you have the means to give, you should be giving. And it's not only about money. It can be your time or effort. Focus on what's important to you, then find a group that does it. Be confident in your ability to make a change." (Consider booking a fitness-meets-volunteering trip.)

Don't let fear hold you back.

"One organization I work with, Best Buddies, creates opportunities for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities; amfAR, the charity I've been with the longest, has helped reverse the stigma of AIDS and HIV. I've learned that people are often afraid to reach out to those who are different from them. But once they do, they realize that we're all more alike than they thought. When I participate in events for Best Buddies, the members are overjoyed that someone wants to be their friend. That simple concept conveys acceptance and love." (Related: Olivia Culpo Shares Her Style Hacks While Traveling.)

Turn it a family affair.

"I have to give my parents a lot of credit when it comes to helping others. My mom and my dad always had such an open-door policy. They would take people in all the time. My cousins lived with us for a while growing up. My friends used to come over and think of my parents as their parents. I remember my mom, ever since we were little, would "adopt" families and we would buy all their Christmas presents. And we'll go to soup kitchens and we'll help serve the community. My parents made it second nature to me: If you have enough to give, you have to give it." (Read about how Rachel Roy loves to give back.)

Know that you can make a huge difference.

"Project Sunshine is an organization for children and people in hospitals. You go into the hospitals and do crafts, bring them gifts, brighten their day. One of the days I was visiting, there was a boy who was very sick and who was in a lot of pain, and he needed morphine. But he and I had such a good time, he didn't have to take the morphine all day, and no one could believe it. I always think of that because we often don't realize the impact we can have on another person. I didn't know I was able to do so much for someone just by spending time with them and making them feel important. That was really eye-opening for me."

Build lasting connections.

"I'm really passionate about education, which is why I became a global ambassador for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that builds schools and creates programs around the world. I was in Guatemala with them, and it was amazing to see how a school provides both children and adults with a sense of community. It's life-changing."