Yup, it’s that time of the year. Everybody’s hand is out, and you are wondering “How can I be the noble, generous, charitable person I want to be, without bankrupting myself?”
Okay, you may not be thinking that, but maybe you should. When you’re living in crazy times, action can be great medicine. And doing good, even in a small way, can create a ripple that expands into riptide of good feelings, generosity, and community.
Since I forgot to check the “Fabulously Wealthy” button when my soul was planning this incarnation, I’ve had to become a bit creative about my charitable activity. We can’t all fund a charitable foundation and throw galas where the rich write six-figure checks while nibbling shrimp hors d’oeuvres. Some of us are struggling to pay our own bills, much less handing out cash to the needy.
Because this matters to me – a lot – I decided to dedicate this week’s Everyday Mysticism to creative ways we can all be more generous, regardless of our wealth, status, or location. The resources I’m proving here merely scratch the surface; feel free to expand it based on your own values, path, or skills.
Broke doesn’t mean helpless, and your gift of time can be extremely powerful. An hour or two a month won’t kill anyone. But finding those opportunities can be extremely difficult. Here are some sites that will hook you up with volunteering opportunities in your area.
I’m a big fan of click-donations. I surf the web a lot, so why not make my surfing count? Here are a few money-free sites (clicks, browsers, and games) that let you donate while doing other things you’d do anyway. Granted, the individual donations are small (I think our Amazon Smile total is under a dollar), but the cumulative effect can be pretty impressive.
- Amazon Smile (Recurring Subscribe & Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible. Donations are not made for products that are returned.)
- Click to Donate
- GiveBack browser
- FreeRice, FreeKibble, and FreeKibble Cat, FreeKibble Litter
Beyond Food Banks
A lot of people get really charitable when they’re cleaning out the garage. There may be items cluttering up your space that could be of value to charitable organizations. Before you donate, though, check out this guide to which items can and should be donated. (Seriously, Saint Mary’s Food Pantry doesn’t want your sixteen-year-old boxes of Tuna Helper. But they might enjoy a small check or some of your time…)
In this cynical age, it’s sometimes hard to know if you’re donations are being used appropriately. Fortunately, there are organizations and sites out there keeping an eye out for you.
Finally, if you’re interested in donating actual funds, you might consider making it as invisible as possible. Some employers offer pre-tax charitable deductions which come automatically from your paycheck. Others offer matching donations, which effectively double your efforts right out of the gate. You would want to check with your HR department to see what options are available. You might also want to consider a small monthly donation of $5 or $10 drafted directly from your debit card or checking account. These offer minimal pain with maximum benefit. Here are a couple of non-profits that accept monthly donations.
National Public Radio
Doctors Without Borders
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
World Wildlife Fund
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Habitat for Humanity
The Jane Goodall Institute
The Carter Center
Natural Resources Defense Council
The National Immigration Law Center
The American Civil Liberties Union
The Southern Poverty Law Center
As we bring 2017 to a close, I know we all understand that there is a lot of work left to be done. We’ve also learned that each of us, every single one of us, has the power to make a difference. You don’t have to do it in a big, splashy way. There are over 7.4 billion of us. If only 10% of us were to commit to one act of charity per week, that would be 740 thousand charitable acts a week! To quote Carl Sagan, “Think of the possibilities!”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s blog. Please feel free to share this post. Feedback is always appreciated, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook . Comments are always open.