Given the current economic climate, it goes without saying that many people are having to make very difficult decisions, cutting back on spending and going without anything not strictly essential. For some, that means some hard choices about charitable donations: if you’re a regular or occasional contributor to good causes, you might be seriously curtailing your gifts.
This can have a negative effect on you. However, if you value being able to help others and contribute, you may feel upset or even guilty that you’re no longer in a position to do so.Or perhaps you’ve rarely or never given to charity in the past, but you’ve been moved by the suffering caused by the financial crisis – yet you yourself have little money to give.
The good news is that there are a number of ways you can make a real difference, without much money. Here are three ways that you could put into practice today, whatever your financial circumstances. Why not give one a try?
Even $1 Is Worth Giving
You might not be able to contribute $20/month to a good cause, but how about $5 or $2? Foregoing a Starbucks latte once a month could give you enough for this.
Here in the UK, the recent Comic Relief fundraising (with thousands of events around the country, and a televised all-evening event in March) raised £57 million by the end of the televised event – that’s a record-breaking figure, and an enormous amount of money for people in desperate need. However, with a UK population of 60.9 million, it’s less than one pound (approx $1.45 at current exchange rates) for every person in the UK.
Remember that next time you think that your $1 or $2 bill won’t make any difference. It’s like voting; each individual’s act may be as insignificant as a single drop of water, but add those drops together and you have a river strong and powerful enough to sweep change across the world.
Save Your Spare Change
Do your pockets end up full of small change? Many of us have a jar of coins gathering dust at home. How about saving up all your nickles and dimes for a month, and donating them to charity (dropping them into a donations jar is an easy way to do this). You’re very unlikely to miss them!
You could take this idea further by asking friends or colleagues to join in. How about putting a big jar in the kitchen (or some other communal location) at work, and asking people to drop in any change that they have? One of the reasons why many of us contribute little or nothing to charity is because we just don’t get around to it – you’ll be giving your colleagues an easy and quick way to change the world!
Get Sponsored to Do Something
If you don’t have any money of your own to give to charitable causes, how about giving someone else’s? No, I’m not suggesting a Robin Hood plan of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor … instead, you ask people to sponsor you to do something. (If possible, get your whole family, or some work colleagues, on board.)
Your options here are really only limited by your imagination. And don’t think that you’re too old, or that your kids are too young; tiny children can participate in simple events like sponsored walks, and one septuagenarian I know has just abseiled from the roof of a hospital building to raise money for their geriatric ward.
Doing a sponsored event is also a great way to break out of your comfort zone, or to do something you’ve always wanted to try but never plucked up the courage to attempt!
Here are just a few of the many sponsored events you might consider:
- Ask people to sponsor you to lose weight (get healthy AND raise money for a good cause)
- A sponsored walk (anything from your local park with the kids, to walking the Great Wall of China)
- Running a marathon or taking part in an organized cycle event
- Abseiling, bungee-jumping, hang-gliding…
- Using one of your skills: eg. if you’re a writer, how about organising a “sponsored write”?
Which of these ideas could you get going on today? Or have they sparked off any other bright thoughts about how you could get some cash to those who really need it – without your own budget suffering? Let us know in the comments…