Giving to Charity on a Budget

Today I’ve got a guest post from Jordann, a part-time runner, yogi, local foodie, and personal finance aficionado. She’s also a full-time marketing professional living and working in Atlantic Canada. She writes about her life at her blog My Alternate Life. Today she’s going to talk all about giving to charity on a budget. Make sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook! — Jessica

In my world, I’m on a pretty tight budget. I have a lot of student loan debt, that I’d like to get rid of as fast as humanely possible. I’ve given up a lot of spending habits in order to funnel as much cash as possible towards my financial goals, and no item in my budget has gone untouched, unscrutinised, or unchanged.

Even though I want to get out of debt as quickly as possible, it’s still important to me to be a good person, and that means giving to charity. I think it’s really important to give back to the people less fortunate than myself, and to support causes that I care about, like animal welfare and the environment. After all, if I don’t donate, why should anyone else?

Still, it’s hard to part with my hard earned cash, especially since I know every dollar that goes towards other things is a dollar more I’m going to have to pay on my debt down the road.

For this reason, I try to find as many ways as possible to donate other resources of mine towards charity. Here are some of the ways I do that:

Donate My Blood

I never used to donate blood. I was in the disqualified group for the longest time. For awhile it was for being under the required minimum weight, then it was for my tattoos, or travelling abroad. Finally in the last year or so, I’ve been able to start giving blood on a regular basis, and have donated several times so far. It’s a quick and easy way to donate my, ahem, resources. The actual part where the needle is in my arm only takes about 15 minutes, and the whole appointment lasts no more than 45 minutes. I can donate once every two months, and my blood will go towards giving life to people who are in desperate need of that precious resource.

Donate My Time

I love to volunteer and have spent many hours doing so for various organizations. Most charitable organizations are in need of people to volunteer. Whether it’s organizing an event, fundraising, or something as simple as walking a dog at the local shelter, there are endless ways to volunteer for charity organizations.

Donate My Skills

Many organizations have plenty of volunteers who can donate simple skills, but complex skill donors are harder to come by. I’m a marketing professional and as such have experience creating websites, brochures, catalogues, creative writing and social media management. Skills like these are of tremendous use to charitable organizations, who are often so busy with the day to day running of the charity that promotion often falls by the wayside.

Donate My Stuff

There are plenty of charities who are always in need of materials to continue their operations. Places like shelters, food banks, and the salvation army typically welcome the donation of blankets, food, and anything with resale value. Being a minimalist, I spend a lot of time de-cluttering. When I do this, I always have a “donate” pile on the go, and anything that isn’t obviously garbage goes to that pile.

Giving to charity is, in my opinion, and important part of being a good human being. I can’t always just write a cheque and let my money do the talking, and in those situations, I’m happy to donate whatever else I have that is of value.

Is giving to charity a priority in your life, even when you’re living on a tight budget?

(Image: pichado photography)


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  • I like donating my time. Call me crazy, but I feel donating money is so easy and passive. Personally I feel that I can contribute so much more by providing my time, expertise, and commitment. I would like to start a nonprofit charity for an orphanage sometime this year. Money would be great, but it would certainly be helpful is an accountant was willing to donate his or her time to assist me with the books or if a carpenter could donate his expertise to help fix up houses.

  • This post is incorrectly titled. What you mean to say is “Ways to Give to Charity When You Won’t Give Money.” We use our budget to prioritize giving money away – in fact we couldn’t give as much as we do without the organization and accountability our budget provides.

    • Maybe you could find somewhere with a low minimum monthly commitment? That’s what I do, that way, if life gets in the way, I don’t have to feel bad scaling back my hours.

  • I am with you on this. We are in aggressive savings mode right now and I want to give more money, but in the meantime I am volunteering in my community and giving in-kind donations where ever I can. I do give money here and there, and I plan to give a lot more down the line, once our finances are even more secure. I’d also add to this that if you do give to charity, make sure it is to a reputable one and that your money is all going to benefit the people you want to help. The charities that call your home are usually not spending enough on the actual services.

    • I completely agree with this, doing your research on charities is key. Charities that spend a small percentage of their donations on actually doing good annoy me!

  • I’ve done all of those at one time or another. I used to be a regular blood donor, but the last few times I did I passed out once I was done…and in a room full of co-workers…it was so embarrassed and mortified it scared me from ever going back. Last year I was a coach for girls on the run, a 12-week after school program. I need to consider my options this year. I need something that fits into my schedule better because I seem to be lacking a lot of time.

    • I’ve heard of people passing out, I definitely wouldn’t go back if I did that! Time is so hard to come by, I completely understand your difficulties there. I’ve recently started volunteering at an organization that requires a pretty minimal time commitment, and that’s fitting in well with my schedule, maybe you can find something similar.

  • Great ideas! I think we have done many of them in the past. My favorite way to give is by giving time. Time is very important to me as I have so little free time, so it means a lot more to me to give that and many charities will gladly accept that.

  • Yay for the blood one! I hear ya. I used to be disqualified for living in the UK for too long, or piercings. They overturned the UK one awhile back, thankfully. Too bad the nearest donation place is almost 3 hours away. One friend was great about going for it and I always admired her for donating.
    I maintain a website for a group, plus organize some meetings. I’ve found now that I work and commute, it really cuts into what I can commit to doing. I also managed the bar at the curling club for a year, but that again was when I was working a different position.

    • It sounds like you have definitely put some effort into donating to charity, good job for making the effort. I haven’t had too much extra time either,but I just started up with a new group that has smaller time commitment so hopefully that’ll be a good fit.

  • I wish I could donate blood – they never want mine, not enough iron in it for them. Aw well. I usually go for donating time and/or stuff, especially with local charities. It’s nice to feel like you’re really helping.

  • I pretty much do or have done all of the above. There are so many ways to give when you don’t have or want to make a monetary donation. Many of the charities I’ve been involved with have actually preferred that I donate my time vs. money. Many people give money to the pantries, but if there’s nobody there to serve the food it’s sort of a moot point.

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