Times are hard all-round, though many experts will tell you that the economy is recovering. The economy may be bouncing back, but no doubt your personal finances are having a tough time recovering from the last couple of years. Giving to others may be hard for you, but it’s important that you continue to donate and help others no matter how hard things get. Here are five ways to be charitable even when finances are tight.
1. Donate a Vehicle
Few people imagine that they can donate a boat, a car or a motorcycle to charity, but there are many foundations that accept charitable donations of these vehicles. While these foundations won’t use the vehicles, they will sell them off at auction in order to raise funds for their projects and charitable endeavors. Even if your car or boat is old, you’d be surprised at how far it will go for a project that helps the homeless, youth or those affected by natural disasters. You don’t have to be a millionaire to help; all you need is a vehicle that you are willing to donate!
2. Donate Your Body
You may not think that you have much to give, but your body is full of life-giving nutrients and fluids that could literally save a life. Why not take the time to donate your blood? You can donate blood at least once every two weeks, though once a month is a better, healthier rate for those with active lifestyles. Bone marrow donations can help those with leukemia and other degenerative diseases, and the process of donating marrow isn’t as painful as it once was. Literally giving of yourself can help to save someone’s life.
3. Donate Your Food
Do you have lots of canned, boxed or dry goods that you aren’t using? Does your family eat too much? If you have more food than you can or should eat, it may be time to look into giving it away. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens will always accept donations of food, especially canned and dry goods that won’t spoil. You can purchase food items using coupons or look for special deals that allow you to get multiple items for a lower price. Take those extra items to someone that needs them.
4. Donate Your Stuff
In this modern age of consumerism, you probably have far more stuff than you need — not to mention more stuff than you use. Go through your closets to see if you have clothing you no longer wear. If you haven’t worn something for nine months to a year, you probably won’t wear it again; get rid of it. Get together all of your kids’ clothes, items that are outdated or old, or things that you just don’t need. Gather all the toys and games that your kids are too old for, and consider if you really need that third TV in your bedroom. Take all of these things to places like Goodwill, hold a garage sale to raise funds for a local project or donate to people in need.
5. Donate Your Time
The one thing that you always have is time, even when money is tight. If you don’t have a lot of free cash to spend, you can always take time to serve meals, talk to people, or provide free professional services to those in need. Your time is very valuable, and you will find that there is a lot that you can offer. A kind word, a smile or a listening ear is sometimes all it takes to help out another person.
Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can do a lot to help those in need. Being a philanthropist is something that you can teach your children, and it’s in your best interests to pass on the spirit of giving to the next generation.
About the Author: Raised by missionaries, Marty Elliott has years of experience working with charitable projects, homeless shelters and endeavors to help those in need.