The truth is: There are a lot of problems in the world.

Climate change, poverty, divisive politics, racism, consumerism, mental health struggles, access to health care, natural disasters, malnutrition, gun violence, and more...

These problems can sometimes feel insurmountable.

But you know what other problems also felt insurmountable? Chattel slavery, the depleting ozone layer, women's suffrage, polio, civil rights for Black Americans, and so much more...

But for each of these injustices, ordinary people stepped up to something, to create change, to make a difference.

These problems weren't solved overnight , and there's still more work to be done, but it's clear that the collective work of countless individuals had led to significant progress — saving and improving lives around the world.

And today, each of us can do the same for the injustices we see all around us. Each of us have the power to make a difference — in big and small ways.

May we learn from difference makers from the past and present about how to make a difference in the world, in our countries, in our communities, and for the individual people we encounter every day.

Dive into these beautiful, inspirational quotes about doing good in the world — and then go out and make a difference yourself.

You might also like: 35+ ideas on ways to make a difference around the world and in your community

You might also like: The best quotes about giving back

Quotes About Helping Others and Making a Difference

Famous Inspirational Quotes

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”
— John F. Kennedy

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” — John F. Kennedy

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.”
Nelson Mandela

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.” — Nelson Mandela

“If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed one.”
— Mother Teresa

“If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed one.” — Mother Teresa

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”
— The Dalai Lama

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.” — The Dalai Lama

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
― Edward Everett Hale

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”― Edward Everett Hale‍

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
― Muhammad Ali

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ― Muhammad Ali

“There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”
Amanda Gorman

“There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

In the World

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say it’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem, then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
Fred Rogers

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say it’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem, then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” — Fred Rogers

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader

“Peace is the opposite of dreaming. It’s built slowly and surely through brutal compromises and tiny victories that you don’t even see. It’s a messy business, bringing peace into the world.”
Bono, musician & co-founder of Product (RED) and ONE

“Peace is the opposite of dreaming. It’s built slowly and surely through brutal compromises and tiny victories that you don’t even see. It’s a messy business, bringing peace into the world.” — Bono, musician & co-founder of Product (RED) and ONE

“No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
— Dorothy Day, Catholic social activist & journalist

“Activism is my rent for living on the planet.”
— Alice Walker, American writer & social activist

“Activism is my rent for living on the planet.” — Alice Walker, American writer & social activist

In the Lives of Others

“What you do for yourself dies with you when you leave this world, what you do for others lives on forever.”
— Ken Robinson

“What you do for yourself dies with you when you leave this world, what you do for others lives on forever.” — Ken Robinson

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
— Mother Teresa

“When you see something that is not just, not fair, or not right, you have to do something. You have to say something. Make a little noise. It's time for us to get into good trouble, necessary trouble.”
John Lewis

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit”
— Nelson Henderson

“You may find that making a difference for others makes the biggest difference in you.”
— Brian Williams

“You may find that making a difference for others makes the biggest difference in you.” — Brian Williams

“Regardless of whatever I do, I know what my purpose is: to make a difference in people’s lives.”
— Tim Tebow

“We can't just hope for a brighter day, we have to work for a brighter day. Love too often gets buried in a world of hurt and fear. And we have to work to dig it out so we can share it with our family, our friends, and our neighbors.”
Dolly Parton

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States & co-founder of the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States & co-founder of the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU

In the Life of a Child

“Don’t expect change to happen overnight, even if it’s not always visible it’s making more impact than you think.”
Emma Watson

“Don’t expect change to happen overnight, even if it’s not always visible it’s making more impact than you think.” — Emma Watson

“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you're making a commitment and difference in that person's life. Encouragement really does make a difference.”
— Zig Ziglar

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall

“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.”
— Trey Smith

On How One Person Can Make a Difference

“I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
— Mother Teresa

“I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” — Mother Teresa‍

“Joy can be real only if people look upon their lives as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”
— Leo Tolstoy

“Each of us can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. Keep the neighbor’s kid while she goes to the store or to the doctor, or befriend somebody in need. I don’t mean you have to take them into your home, but you can find a place for them to stay or see that they get food. You can do an act of kindness every single solitary day, because it’s needed.”
— Opal Lee

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something... My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.
Jimmy Carter

“Do it! What are you waiting on? Do it! Stand up for what you believe in. The world needs your voice. Whoever you are, you have something to say. Say it.”
— Kerry Washington, American actress, director, and activist

“Do it! What are you waiting on? Do it! Stand up for what you believe in. The world needs your voice. Whoever you are, you have something to say. Say it.” — Kerry Washington, American actress, director, and activist

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
― Anne Frank

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.”
— Maya Angelou

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
— Robert F. Kennedy

“One person can make a difference. You don't have to be a big shot. You don't have to have a lot of influence. You just have to have faith in your power to change things.”
— Norman Vincent Peale

“You do only live once, and I feel like if I’m able to make a difference on this planet and make it just a little better than I found it, then I’ve done my job.”
— Bindi Irwin 

“You do only live once, and I feel like if I’m able to make a difference on this planet and make it just a little better than I found it, then I’ve done my job.” — Bindi Irwin 

On Making a Difference Together

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African Anglican bishop & human rights and anti-apartheid activist

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African Anglican bishop & human rights and anti-apartheid activist

“Each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.”
— Dr. Cornel West

“Each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” — Dr. Cornel West

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.”
Nelson Mandela

“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.” — Nelson Mandela

“No one changes the world alone and no one doesn’t change it at all.”
Hank Green

“The world would be a paradise of peace and justice if global citizens shared a common definition of love which would guide our thoughts and action.”
— bell hooks

“In a society that functions optimally, those who can should naturally want to provide for those who can't. That's how it's designed to work. I truly believe we're here to take care of one another.”
— LeVar Burton

“One person can make a difference. You don't have to be a big shot. You don't have to have a lot of influence. You just have to have faith in your power to change things.”
— Norman Vincent Peale

“One person can make a difference. You don't have to be a big shot. You don't have to have a lot of influence. You just have to have faith in your power to change things.” — Norman Vincent Peale

Short Motivational Quotes

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“The need is great and so are the opportunities to make a difference.”
— Paul Newman

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something…”
Jimmy Carter

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.”
— Toni Morrison

“It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference.”
— Tom Brokaw

“It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference.” — Tom Brokaw

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
— St. Catherine of Siena

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
— Angela Davis, American political activist & academic

“I've found the cure for depression is action”
Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia & climate activist

“I've found the cure for depression is action” — Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia & climate activist

For Teachers

“There is no greater reward than working from your heart, and making a difference in the world.”
— Carlos Santana

“There is no greater reward than working from your heart, and making a difference in the world.” — Carlos Santana

“In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa

“If you believe you can make a difference, not just in politics, in public service, in advocacy around all these important issues, then you have to be prepared to accept that you are not going to get 100 percent approval.”
— Hillary Clinton

More Make a Difference Quotes

“A joyful rebellion is you living differently not because you’re mad at how things are but because you are swelling with joy at the thought of how things could be.”
Kid President

“A joyful rebellion is you living differently not because you’re mad at how things are but because you are swelling with joy at the thought of how things could be.” — Kid President

“We have the potential to help people out of poverty, out of disease, out of slavery, and out of conflict. Too often, we turn the other way because we think there's nothing we can do.”
— Alicia Keys

“I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive”
Harvey Milk, first openly gay elected official in California

“I cannot prevent anyone from getting angry, or mad, or frustrated. I can only hope that they’ll turn that anger and frustration and madness into something positive” — Harvey Milk, first openly gay elected official in California

“What is Apple, after all? Apple is about people who think 'outside the box,' people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.”
— Steve Jobs

“I have a little different definition of evil than most people. When you have the opportunity and the ability to do good and you do nothing, that's evil. Evil doesn't always have to be an overt act, it can be merely the absence of good.”
Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia & climate activist

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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