Philanthropic efforts do not have to be monetary. Charities and non-profit organizations in your area need more than just money, so regardless of how tight funds are for you, you can still help others.
Donate gently used clothes/toys/furniture
When you clean out your closets, attic, garage or storage unit, chances are that you’ll find plenty of items you no longer want or need. Consider donating those items to a local charity where they would be considered a wonderful gift. Match your donations to specific charities. Maternity clothes at a pregnancy center, a kitchen table at a halfway house, or a desk at a job training facility benefit the individuals who receive those services while simultaneously saving the organization money.
If you have children, talk to them about why you are donating their old toys to a homeless shelter. Explain that some kids don’t have anything to play with and this is a way to share with them so they can play, too.
Don’t just drop off your old junk without thinking about it. Take the time to make minor repairs or research where your donations would be most appreciated. It’s not just about getting rid of your stuff; it’s about helping others in need.
Volunteer your time
You may not have as much money as Bill and Melinda Gates and their foundation, but you have just as much time in a day as they do. Could you spare an hour each week or more to volunteer in your community? Volunteer opportunities vary widely. You could do something as intensive as mentoring an inmate or as menial as stuffing envelopes and it would be a help to some organizations.
When you’re looking for somewhere to volunteer, take the following things into account:
- How the time requirements work with your availability
- Your specific skills and passions
- Personal experiences that might be beneficial to share with others in similar circumstances
Time is something everyone has but few are willing to share. Never underestimate the value of giving your time.
Become an advocate
If there is a specific cause close to your heart, you can use your passion to let others know about it and get involved. This may mean partnering with one organization or with many, depending on the cause. One thing is for sure: people won’t respond if they’re uninformed. Whether you want the world to know about the shortage of funds for childhood cancer research, the importance of wildlife conservation or how many foster children are waiting for forever homes, your voice matters.
Your unique sphere of influence touches people and corporations that might not otherwise be made aware. Use social networking sites, events in your home, letters to government officials or blatant recruitment efforts to help find solutions to the problems you see in your part of the world. Anybody who has ever been a fundraiser will tell you the amazing value of networking to achieve a goal. You may not be able to contribute money, but you likely know somebody who can.
You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a big difference. Get involved!