I am costantly encouraged by all the amazing opportunities to do good in the world. We are often taught that the best way to help is with cash, but what if you don't have cash to spare? You can still participate in giving, tithing, and charity - you just have to be a little more creative. Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity and get you brainstorming for ways to give and share on a tight budget. Whether you attend church, participate with a non-profit organization, support a local, national or international cause - or even help a neighbor out, we can all make a difference and all of it is important. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about what is right for you!
1. Give the things you no longer need. When your children outgrow shoes or clothes, when you move and have furniture that doesn't fit in your new place, when you find out you can no longer eat wheat or eggs or sugar or something, find someone who can use what you no longer can. If you need the cash you'll get from a yard sale or selling on craigslist, don't beat yourself up about it - you're still helping someone get something they need at a much lower price than retail. If you plan to donate, consider donating to a charity that helps those in need.
2. Give of your time. One of the ways I give at church is by teaching a Sunday School class. I've also stopped by on my 'errand day' and done cleaning that needs to be done. There are always lots of things that need doing at nonprofit organizations. They will greatly appreciate your contribution of time. If you have a busy schedule of your own, you may need to volunteer for a specific short term project. If you have more time that you're available, you can consider an ongoing time commitment. Either way, you can impact lives and make a difference!
3. Give of your talents. What are you good at? What do you enjoy? Do you sing? Draw? Bake? Take your God-given talents and share them. I can sing well enough to sing a song in church, but not nearly well enough to be part of the choir. Fortunately, there are others at church who sing beautifully. Some are good with children, others are great with finances. We all have a talent we can contribute somewhere. I like to bake, so I take a quick bread to church each week and share it with others.
4. Sell items for a cause. If you are supporting a cause that is on the other side of the continent, it doesn't always make sense to pack up physical items and mail them halfway around the world. It really depends on what is needed, what you have and where it's going. Consider selling items you don't need and donating some or all of the proceeds to causes that are important to you.
5. Make a sacrifice. There are all sorts of opportunities that various organizations encourage where a small sacrifice on your part (or my part) can make a big difference in the lives of others. Do you eat meat every day? If you were to eat meatless one day a week and donate the saved money to a worthy cause of your choice, it could help feed others. If you buy a soda from a vending machine every day, it costs far more than purchasing a case of soda - you could donate the difference to a worthy cause. There are limitless possibilities here, big and small.
6. Coupon with giving in mind. A lot of us, myself included, use coupons to save significantly on groceries and household items. As many coupons as I use, there are many more I don't. Some of them are 'good coupons', just for things we don't use or eat. Those items that are free or very low cost can be donated to organizations or shared with others. We don't have a dog, but we can donate couponed dog food or free samples to a shelter. No one here is in diapers, but if I can get a screamin' deal on them, I could drop some off at a shelter. If you're watching the coupon websites for your own deals, it only takes a little more effort to stock up on things for others too, and at very low cost. Free samples are another way to get tings to share with those in need.
7. Donate the rebate, survey payment, swagbucks. If you are sending in rebates to get cash back on purchased items, consider donating a portion of the rebate. Alternately, you can donate the item you purchased sometimes. I buy paper from Staples any time there is a rebate that makes it free. We use some here at home, but I am also able to take quite a few reams of copy paper to church. There are all sorts of organizations local to you that would appreciate paper for free. If you take surveys online or if you do swagbucks, consider using that 'found money' to make a difference in the lives of others. Someone you know might be really blessed with groceries ordered from Amazon with your 'free' swagbucks money. Money from taking surveys could be used to make blessing bags....there are lots of possibilities.
8. Share what you have. We grow a garden every year, and there is a point in the season when keeping up with the harvest is difficult. A few fruits and vegetables are always appreciated, and sharing them saves me the stress of worrying where to put them or how to get them processed while they are in their prime. If you have a fruit tree that you don't want to harvest (we see this quite a lot where we live), let a local food bank or church know that they can come harvest the fruit for those in need. Your kindness will be greatly appreciated.
9. But...I don't have enough! It is easy to feel like there is just nothing to spare. I sometimes feel that way too, but deep down, I know I can share with others, giving them some of my time, something to eat or something that will bless them. We are a wealthy country by global standards. In this culture, it is sometimes difficult to remember that wants and needs are very, very different. One thing I do know is that when I give from a place of love and caring, it is always, always worth it. There is goodness in helping others, and it blesses me too. I encourage to to work from wherever you are and open yourself to the possibilities. Be blessed, and know joy.