Charity on a Budget

If you have a superfluous amount of money, so much so that you couldn’t possibly spend it all in a lifetime, then it only makes sense to give large amounts of it away to charity. According to Forbes, Bill and Melinda gates are the most charitable people in America, having donated $30.2 billion (37% of their net worth) to charity in their lifetimes. But Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft,  is also the wealthiest man in the world, not just among the most wealthy, but the wealthiest with a net worth of $87.4 billion.

For the rest of us, it may not be so easy to donate to charity. Maybe money is tight and, as much as you’d like to help those who are suffering and in need of support, you’re struggling just to make ends meet. Rest assured: it is possible to give to charity on any budget. That’s right- any budget. Whether you plan out your contributions on a yearly basis so that you know exactly how much you can afford to give out or you give of yourself in other ways, such as giving your time, knowledge, or items, there are plenty of ways you can give to charity without breaking the bank. Here are some options for giving to charity on any budget:

  1. Utilize technology that makes donating effortless and more organized. There are many apps available that make keeping track of your charity budget a breeze. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, unsure where to donate or how much to give, download an app such as Pledgling, Charity Miles, and Causemo. Pledgling provides a list of charities to scroll through and allows you to make a contribution with the click of a button, without an additional fee for their services. Charity Miles donates money from corporate sponsors and encourages you to take charge of your physical fitness, because donations are made based on how much you exercise. If that’s not motivation to get in shape, I don’t know what is! Causemo integrates charitable causes into everyday digital activities like websites and social media, so you don’t have to go out of your way to make a donation! There are also many websites and retail sites that will donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, so you don’t even have to put out any additional money to make a difference.
  1. Assess your budget to determine how much you can give without disrupting your financial stability. Then, plan out where you’d like to distribute your money and set aside a fund for the year. Decide if you’d like to spread your giving out throughout the year or make a large, one-time gift to a charity of your choice by putting money into a savings account. Also, don’t forget to factor your donations into your tax deductions!
  2. Leverage your network. If you have a large network of family and friends, use that to your advantage to enhance your donating power. You could run a marathon and ask for donations from your network or request that friends and family donate to the charity of your choice for your birthday instead of giving regular gifts. You could also set up a donation page through a crowdfunding site like GoFundMe or CrowdRise.
  3. Donate items you no longer use. The next time you go through your things, put aside anything you haven’t used in a while and donate it to a charity like GoodWill, the Red Cross, Purple Heart, or the Salvation Army so that someone who really needs it can put it to use. There are also many charities that collect specific items. Check out a list here.
  4. Give your time- volunteer! Who says you have to give anything tangible to make an impact? Volunteering can have just as much, if not more, meaning to someone in need than a cash contribution from some nameless donor. Get out there and show someone you care. There are SO many ways to get involved, whether it’s serving up a meal at a soup kitchen, spending time with seniors at a nursing home, delivering meals to shut-ins, mentoring a child through Big Brothers Big Sisters, helping out at a homeless shelter, sorting through donations at a charity store…the list goes on and on. Identify a cause you care about and do a search for opportunities available in your area through a website like All for Good and Volunteer Match.
  5. Give your health. This form of giving is so often overlooked, but you could save a life by donating blood, bone marrow, or blood plasma. You could also make a real difference to the self-esteem of someone going through chemotherapy treatment or experiencing any other type of hair loss by donating your hair to an organization like Locks of Love or Beautiful Lengths.
  6. Give the gift of giving. Don’t underestimate how meaningful the act of giving can be. Instead of burning all your money on expensive gifts this holiday season, why not donate to charity and encourage your loved ones to do so by giving them gift certificates to charities?
  7. Give your knowledge. Another great and underestimated form of giving is to put your skills and knowledge to use and mentor someone in your area of expertise. For instance, if you have computer skills or writing skills, find out where you can offer your assistance. You don’t know what a difference basic computer skills like email and the internet could make in someone’s life, such as a senior citizen trying to connect with relatives.