Giving back to the community is an important part of membership. It’s easy to lose sight of the forest because of the trees, and our ability to notice just how much we have when taking in the greater picture of society is no different. There are days when we feel sorry for ourselves a bit, especially when financial burdens feel never ending. The truth, however, is that even if you do not have financial flexibility to give monetarily to a cause you believe in, there is still an opportunity to give. There are definitely ways to give back to the community without money. Years ago, I met a man who was homeless, but I had no idea he was homeless until months after meeting him. John and my husband volunteered together to help the homeless community by providing food, clothing, and information along with words of encouragement and friendship. Many times, I would sit and talk to John after they wrapped up volunteering, after helping put together snack bags or packs with blankets and socks, and a few times we gave him a ride somewhere. It was the first time we gave John a ride that it dawned on me that he was actually homeless also. John didn’t have a lot of money, and he couldn’t donate in the same way that some people donated to that volunteer organization, but he gave something far more valuable in my opinion: he gave his time and his heart. When considering if/how to get involved, take a pause and remember that your heart, your time, and your energy are the most valuable things you have on this earth outside of perhaps your family. Giving from that fountain of resources is a true gift to those who receive. Wondering how to give in the most effective way? Below you’ll find a few options that are easy to accomplish and will prove exceptionally valuable to your community.
How can I serve my community? Volunteer!
One of the best ways to serve your community without opening your pocketbook is to volunteer time. I had the opportunity to volunteer through an organization several years ago that would place you with different organizations for 6-12 months at a time. After that stint, you would shift to another organization. It was a fantastic way to find opportunities for serving that I might not have discovered on my own. Volunteer Match6 is a fantastic way to find volunteer opportunities in your area. My best advice is to think about the causes that tug most at your heart strings. I love helping out kids, so my favorite volunteer experience was spending time putting together sacks filled with food for kids to take home over the weekend. Unfortunately, food insecurity is a major issue, and many children only eat a balanced meal when the food is provided at school. The organization I was volunteering with aimed to change that. We put together food bags for kids to use over the weekend filled with snacks and meals they could easily prepare themselves. Finding an organization that aligns with your values is important because it will make you feel motivated to create more space in your calendar for volunteering.
Give Back by Changing the Future
One of the more unique ways to give back to your community without money is to help change the future through political involvement. If you have a cause or issue that you feel particularly passionate about, consider writing to your local, elected officials.5 This simple act does not take long and can have lasting change. Getting involved on a local level in the political happenings in your area can equal massive change that will last and impact future generations. Finding your representatives is as easy as visiting house.gov7 and typing in your zip code.
Make Something to Give
Nothing says comfort like the gift of a homemade item4 that is delivered during hard times. Whether you’re a cook, a gardener, or a craftsman, giving something that you make to a person in need is always a great idea. My grandpa used to always tell me to start my giving habits at home and work outwards. Our family made giving and serving a priority, and you can implement a habit of giving simply by sharing things you make with people you know. Getting to know your neighbors is a fantastic place to start as well as people you are already friends with. The next time someone you know is sick or going through a super hard time, taking a homemade meal (make sure to check on dietary restrictions if you don’t already know) can mean the world to them. You could also pick flowers from your own yard to share, make a blanket to keep someone cozy, or build a birdhouse that they can use in their yard to provide a few moments of happiness. No matter how bleak the circumstances, the warmth that will be felt when you arrive on someone’s doorstep bearing gifts you made yourself will undoubtedly shine a little light and make a difference. By simply choosing to donate your time to figure out how best to serve someone close to you, you can make a big difference.
Give by Saving Lives
One of the free acts of kindness with the most potential for life altering impact is to donate blood and plasma.3 You can use this handy link8 to find the nearest American Red Cross location where you can donate blood or plasma. When a medical tragedy strikes and a donation is needed, emergency teams rely on the donations of people just like you to help others survive the event at hand. Donating blood and plasma is easy to do and incredibly generous. Make sure to check with your doctor before donating and speak at length with the donation coordinators if you’ve never donated before.
Share Your Skills
When you decide to donate your time through volunteering, you are typically asked to complete tasks that are pre-determined. However, there are ways to give back to the community without money that rely solely on your own experiences and expertise.2 Using the skills you’ve developed over the years is a great way to give back. Are you a carpenter? Perhaps you could volunteer at Habitat for Humanity during their next building project. Do you drive for a living? Perhaps picking up a volunteer shift driving seniors to appointments or delivering meals through Meals on Wheels would be feasible to work into your routine. No matter what skills you’ve developed as a professional in your industry, there are likely ways you can find the perfect fit and donate those skills and your time to your community.
Cleaning Up and Donating
A few weeks ago, on one of my daily walks, I noticed a group of teenage boys walking through the park with trash bags. I was so impressed to see these teens taking time out of their undoubtedly busy schedules to do a little community service. I’ve seen those kids at the park before hanging out and skateboarding. Just like those teens, we can all help out by simply cleaning up1 the areas we frequent. Take a trash bag and some gloves on a walk around your neighborhood or park and grab any trash you see along the way. You’ll be healthier as will the planet by the time you’re done with your walk.
Cleaning up other people’s trash not your jam? Truly, I do understand. If you’d rather stick to your own leftover stuff, try cleaning out your closet and opting to donate to a homeless shelter, a women’s shelter, or a children’s organization for displaced or fostered kiddos. Resale shops are awesome but try finding an organization that gives the clothes to those who need them most rather than selling them. A free act of kindness like sharing your lightly used items could mean the world to someone else.
Giving back feels amazing
Whether you choose to donate time by volunteering, take a political stance to help shape the future, gift through blood donation, or any of the free community service ideas we’ve discussed, you’re doing an amazing thing. Taking a moment to recognize how lucky we are each and every day that we wake up with breath in our lungs is a true gift. Sharing our gifts with others is not only the right thing to do, but it will fulfill a deep need we have in our hearts1 to give back.
1Tony Robbins Website How to Give Back Retrieved from: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/giving-back/how-to-give-back/
2Tateossian, Terry (2022, Dec 9). 3 Powerful Yet Simple Ways To Give Back To Your Community Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2022/12/09/3-powerful-yet-simple-ways-to-give-back-to-your-community/?sh=6cbab6ee1f0b
3Vaughan, Ashley (2022, Dec 9). No money? No problem. Here are 4 ways to give back this holiday season Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/21/us/iyw-wellness-4-ways-to-give-without-money/index.html
4Wren, Brittany (2020, Nov 23). 8 Ways to Give Back Without Spending Money Retrieved from: https://www.speedycash.com/resources/393/saving-money-tips/8-ways-to-give-back-without-spending-money/
5Save the Children Website How to Help Your Favorite Charity Without Donating Money Retrieved from https://www.savethechildren.org/us/ways-to-help/ways-to-give/ways-to-support-charity-without-donating-money#:~:text=Volunteering%20is%20a%20great%20way,learn%20about%20volunteering%20with%20us!
6Volunteer Match Website Retrieved from: https://www.volunteermatch.org/
7Find Your Representative Retrieved from: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
8American Red Cross Zip Code Finder Retrieved from: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive
Jessica PriceRead More from Jessica Price
Jessica is hyper-focused on making information about the Personal Loans offered by CheckSmart including Payday Loans, Installment Loans, Line of Credit, and Title Loans accessible and easy to understand. Learning the basics about finances shouldn’t be complicated after all! The key to responsible borrowing is understanding the loans you’re considering, and it’s Jessica’s mission to help anyone considering a loan make an informed decision. Jessica is passionate about sharing easy-to-follow Budgeting Tips and helping readers increase their financial literacy in the Financial Corner of the blog. You’ll find great budgeting tips, Simplified Savings tips, and information that will help you improve your financial wellness sprinkled throughout each of her blogs.