5 Ways to Be a Philanthropist Even When Money’s Tight


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.



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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Vickie Couturier says:

    great post,some really good points

  2. Your post is very thought-provoking. You’re right–there are many ways to give, even during tough times. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. It feels good to donate or help to the less fortunate. I never throw anything of use out to the trash I always find someone who could use it. It is something that is good for kids to learn to do to. Lots of ways to do it as you listed above

  4. Great post….I really need to go through my closets and donate clothing that I do not wear. Thanks so much for the wonderful post 🙂

  5. I volunteer and have already donated my body for research. It’s true, you don’t have to be a millionaire during these hard economic times to be charitable because money is not the only thing that can help someone.

  6. Donna George says:

    Time, talent, and treasure. If you are short on treasure, there is time and talent. What an inspiring post!

  7. Giving is also a way to feel rich – many of the world’s richest people are great philanthropists. Giving reminds us that we are relatively well off compared to the rest of the world. If we are well off enough to be reading this article on the internet then we are richer and more blessed than many many others in the world.