Easy Ways to Give Back That Work With Any Budget


Sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about what I would do if I had an extra million or if I won the lottery. I dream up such elaborate plans that sometimes I actually get down about not being able to see my dreams materialize. It can be frustrating.

But recently, I came downstairs to tell my husband that I had an epiphany. I realized that I needed to start focusing less on what I wish I could do and more on what I can do. I may never be able to write a million-dollar check or build a new wing in a hospital. And while I certainly would if I could, the reality is that I can’t now. So I thought it would be more productive to come up with realistic ways that I can be a charitable person. Here’s what I came up with.

1. My Time

Even though I have about as much extra time as I have extra money, volunteering my time and energy is free, and for many organizations, volunteers are much needed and appreciated.

2. Live Within My Means, Give Within My Means

Most people are unable write that million-dollar check, but making a contribution that is meaningful to you is most important. And these meaningful gifts do add up! Don’t minimize your contribution because it doesn’t have as many zeros as someone else’s. (Or any zeros for that matter.)

3. Give Something You Already Have

Giving isn’t limited to time and money. Recently my daughter’s preschool reopened after an extensive renovation due to back-to-back floods. Everything in the preschool was lost. In one of my daydreams I opened the back of a U-Haul packed to the max with new toys. But in real life, I was able to donate some lightly used or like-new toys we already had. It was just a few toys, but it still felt wonderful and like I was making an impact.

4. Use Your Skills

Do you have a skill? Something you like doing? Knit a hat for a NICU baby, bake something sweet for a bake sale, or offer a service for a live auction. There are so many opportunities! Don’t forget: YOU have value!

I don’t think I will ever be able to fully give up dreaming up big plans for changing the world and making an impact. But consistently doing what I can will help keep me grounded in reality.

What will you do that’s within your means? —Julie



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