Clean The Bay

Charitable giving on a budget

You may be surprised to learn that small-budget donors are the most generous when it comes to giving a percentage of their income to a good cause. But giving back doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t — break the bank.

Make a budget

Take an honest look at your finances. Do you have room to give? Start by subtracting all your financial obligations from your monthly income: mortgage or rent payments, groceries, utilities, and car or other loan payments. Then figure out the sum you’re typically left with each month. Analyze where most of your disposable income is going to figure out how much you’re able to comfortably give.

Start small

You don’t have to give thousands of dollars each year to charity to make a difference. Start small. Pack your lunch instead of eating out; skip the coffeehouse for a cup of java brewed at home. Those dollars and cents can really add up. The money you save over a few weeks, months or even a year can make a huge difference to a local nonprofit or charitable organization.

De-clutter to give back

It’s almost time for spring cleaning. Don’t toss out the clothes you never wear or electronics you never use. Instead, give them to a local charity. Even gently-used furniture can be a wonderful way to give to local shelters in need. Are you really ever going to wear your old prom or bridesmaid dress again? Look for a women’s shelter or organization that gives dresses to local students in need so they can dress up for homecoming and prom.

Donate time.

If money is tight, you can still make a positive change in your community by donating your time and other resources. You’d probably be hard pressed to find a local food bank, animal shelter or any other nonprofit organization that doesn’t need volunteers. If you’re a skilled accountant, IT professional or marketing consultant, consider donating your expertise.

Ask yourself what you’re passionate about and look for organizations in your community that align with what you care about most. Any way you choose to donate, it’s a win-win. You’ll put your spare dollars or spare time to good use while helping your community thrive.