How to be a thrifty philanthropist

The word philanthropy literally translates to “the love of people” and while the word is generally associated 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 it is easy to get bogged down with financial stresses like saving for a house deposit or your next holiday – or sometimes, just paying the rent. It is understandable if working in donations to your favourite charities in your monthly budget is not at the top of your priority list.

If you do have a desire to give back to causes close to your heart in some way but your financial focus is on more immediate needs, here are five ideas to get you started on the road to thrifty philanthropy.

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
This would have to be the most self-serving form of philanthropy, but many charities also rely heavily on volunteers to carry out their mission. You get to go behind the scenes at cool events, get training and experience for your CV, make lovely new friends, and you often 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. You could set your own physical challenge like a run or walk and seek sponsorship – a great way to get fit and raise funds. If you’ve got long natural locks, consider donating your hair to make a wig for cancer patients.

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 to your local opportunity shop.

5. Where there’s a Will…
You can leave a bequest for your favourite charity or charities in your Will. Other than possibly a lawyer’s fee, you don’t have to fork out a cent in your lifetime. Furthermore, your contribution can often work out to be of a much higher value than the donations you may be able to afford right now.

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