How to Be Charitable When You Are Not Rich
A word to the wise:
Donating is often something people think of as a rich person activity, or at least someone who’s “made it”. I would like to debunk that idea. Anyone can be charitable by donating their time or sharing some wealth regardless of their financial situation. For those of us who are still in debt and don’t have as much savings as we would like, there are a lot of ways to be charitable when you are not rich. Donate your time, donate old possessions and get creative!
I remember one time reading an article about how much money Bill Gates and his wife were donating to charity. After the article there was a bunch of comments from random people on the internet saying things like “they should be donating more since they are so rich!” or “this isn’t that special, that much money means nothing to them!”. At first glance I started to agree with them. But after thinking about it a little more that day I realized something.
Regardless of your financial situation, it is always possible to give to others.
The chances are, that a majority of those internet trolls I temporary agreed with had never donated anything in their life. The reality is, most people love the idea of charity, but never actually get around to doing it! Even thinking about being charitable gives you a bit of a good feeling, almost like you actually did help someone out, it can be a rush to think of yourself as someone selfless and giving. But than we move on with our day and forget all about it, never actually donating or doing anything charitable.
I first learnt this lesson when I was home from college during a summer break. I was cleaning out my closet of old clothes I didn’t want or grew out of, going through my toiletries to throw out random stuff I had accumulated throughout the years like mini toothpastes from the dentist, and in my mind this stuff had no use or significance.
Then I had a thought. Earlier that day I had driven by a homeless man who regularly walked a major intersection I drove through, and remembered seeing quite a few other people down on their luck in the downtown area also. I was a college student who didn’t have money, so I figured I couldn’t help them much when I could barely help myself. But I had all this stuff which I had no use for!
Donating old stuff:
So, I decided to get some large Ziplock bags and fill them up like a donation goodie bag. I split up everything I had so each bag had a little of everything. I was so excited about the idea I actually started adding more stuff I hadn’t been planning on getting rid of just to make the bags better.
- Ziplock bag
- Mini toothpaste
- Extra toothbrushes (unused of course)
- A pencil or pen
- Small post-it notes or note pads
- 2-4 dollars change
- Small bottles of hand lotion
- Hand sanitizer
- Small snacks like granola bars
- And small books
I put 2-3 bags in my car and whenever I saw someone in need, I would give them a bag and say “have a great day!”. Some would say the same thing back and others would give me a weird look for passing them a big bag of stuff. Regardless, I would see them sit down and go looking through the bag and smile. This made me feel great, because I was able to make someone else feel great. Win, win!
If you are wealthy or at least living comfortably, you should have no issue finding enough money to support a cause you care about. For those of us who are paying off debt or struggling to save up money, it can often feel a little overwhelming to think about giving some of that money away.
Remember, no one expects you to give away the money you need for food or a roof over your head. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a small difference.
Consider making small donations regularly.
The thought of donating $120 to charity seems like a crazy thought when you are barely able to cover your rent and groceries. But $10 dollars doesn’t seem so bad. If you donate $10 a month, you will have donated $120 dollars in a year. It may not seem like much, but trust me, it will make a difference to the people who receive the donations.
Two Good Canadian Charities:
If you crunch the numbers and you have no money to give and you don’t have any old stuff that someone else would find useful, don’t panic. There’s one more option at your disposal that could potentially be the most beneficial of all.
Donate your time.
Nothing is more valuable than time. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can donate your time to charity and helping others. Here are a couple ideas:
- Soup Kitchen
- Habitat for Humanity
- Tutoring for free
- Big Brother Big Sister programs
- Raising donations and running for charity
- Volunteering and at a non-profit organization that is reputable
- Look into local volunteer and charity organizations
Last Minute Thoughts:
If you decide to donate online, it can be difficult to find reputable charities. You also want to make sure you aren’t giving away money to a third party or scam.
Here are a few sites that will help you navigate through the charity websites by ranking the best and most efficient campaigns:
Let us know in the comment section if you have thought of any creative and affordable ways to be charitable!