When it comes to philanthropy, money is not the be all, end all. While having cash to give is a great thing to do and can be a noble gesture, being broke is not an impossible barrier where giving is concerned. In fact, some might say that being broke is a blessing. It forces us to give other valuable resources that normally don’t get enough social exercise.
About 3 times a year, our church has a week that we call "ServeFest" and it is always a huge success. For that week, members of our church work on about 50 projects in the community and almost none of them include money, but make a huge impact!
Here are five great ways to give when you have no money:
Give your time - Your time is one of the most valuable and noble gifts you can give. If you are as busy as me, you know that time is money. That old saying is not a joke. If you are giving someone your time, you are investing in them. When you invest in people, good things happen. The key is to give with a clean heart that is not dependent upon their success or failures. Give for the right reasons and your heart remains clean.
One way to give some time is to volunteer at your local food pantry or outreach. Help to sort the donations that they receive, create boxes of food, etc. There is so much that goes on "behind the scenes" and most of the time, they are just backed up and need help!
Give food - Food is a huge resource in our communities and there is no shortage of people going hungry these days. If you live in an area with a homeless population and you really want to make someone smile including yourself, make up a batch of simple sandwiches and head out in search of folks that need them. You will find plenty of takers and the appreciation you receive is priceless. If that is not your "style", you can simply look for sales at the grocery stores on non-perishables and make sure to donate them to the local food pantry!
Donate clothes - Again, there are always people out there that need a used winter coat, new pair of shoes or extra pair of pants. Why not clean out the closet and give to a shelter? You can literally change lives and do so without spending a single penny. You also get the added benefit of cleaning out your closet and creating space….that is always a good thing.
Give your compassion - This one is huge and the need is massive. Go to a homeless shelter, nursing home, orphanage or hospital. There are always folks that could use an ear. Sometimes they simply want to spend time together and sometimes they might need a friend. If you go to these places and visit those that rarely get visits, your compassion and time will be priceless.
You also get to know some awesome people that simply have been dealt a tough hand. This is one thing that my children enjoy every time our church has ServeFest, because they organize a Bingo Night at a local retirement home. My daughter's Girl Scout troop has even put on a "variety show" at that home...the residents just love the visits!
Start up a fundraiser for a specific cause - If you feel powerful about something in the community, you can give back by starting up a grassroots fundraiser. You can do this on GoFund Me or any number of websites that provide for such ideas. The inspiration you create could go viral and fund a much bigger cause than you realized. The key is to find something you are passionate about. This will grow legs and you will stick with it longer.
What other ways can you find to give when you don't have much money?