Thrifty philanthropy: 5 simple ways to give back

Do you have a desire to give back to causes close to your heart but maybe you’re strapped for cash? Here are five simple ideas to get you started on the road to thrifty philanthropy.

The word philanthropy literally translates to “the love of people.” While we associate the word with gaziollionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, everyone can be a philanthropist. Even if you think your bank balance might suggest otherwise.

Life can get pretty expensive and there are so many demands on our finances. You might be saving for a house deposit or just trying to pay the rent this month. Understandably, working in donations to your favourite charities in your monthly budget may not be a top priority.

Hand drawn illustration of a house with coin, heart and plants inside

1. Social enterprises

I love a good social enterprise and I believe (and hope) that they are the future of business. From toilet paper and coffee to jewellery and clothing, it’s stuff you’re going to buy anyway. So why not buy from a brand that donates profits to charities or provides employment opportunities for disadvantaged communities?

2. Volunteering

Volunteering would have to be the most self-serving way to give back. With that said, many charities also rely heavily on volunteers to carry out their mission. As a volunteer, you get to go behind the scenes at cool events, gain experience for your CV and make new friends. More often than not, you also end up with a free t-shirt at the end of it.

3. Blood, sweat and hair

When you don’t have cash to splash, work with what you’ve got. 

  • Donating blood is one of the most direct ways you can save a life and there is always a need for more. 
  • Set your own physical challenge like a run or walk and seek sponsorship. It’s a great way to give back and get fit at the same time.
  • If you’ve got long natural locks, consider donating your hair to make a wig for cancer patients.
A woman with short hair wearing a red T-shirt holds a plastic bag with hair to donate
I donated my hair back in 2014

4. Learn to let go

All of those things that are gathering dust in your wardrobe or cupboards could be of enormous value to someone else. Have a bit of a spring clean and donate clothes, trinkets and household items that you no longer use. See my post on tidying up mindfully for ideas on organisations who can make the best use of your pre-loved things.

5. Where there’s a Will…

Consider including a gift to a charity in your Will. Other than possibly a lawyer’s fee, you don’t have to fork out a cent in your lifetime. Furthermore, your gift often works out to a much higher value than donations you may be able to afford now.

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