So, the holidays have come and gone, you broke the bank on gifts this year, and your expendable income is looking a little dismal. You may have already made that big donation to your favorite charity and called it a day, or maybe you dropped off some change into a donation box as you were leaving the store. While these contributions are undoubtedly generous monetarily, we can only offer so much.
But, just because the holidays have come to an end doesn’t mean the giving should as well. With so much going on in the world, many people are in need and recovering from life changing situations. Despite trying to recoup your finances from the holidays, here are three ways you can continue to make a difference for your community by giving all year round, while also staying on a budget:
Donate your time
It is obviously much more convenient to give money, however, in many ways donating your time can be just as valuable, if not more, to a nonprofit. Many of these organizations thrive on volunteers. As monetary contributions allow them to give back to more people on a larger scale, the participation of volunteers only enhances that growth and engagement.
Consider making some room in your schedule to help those you want to support in person. Local organizations are always looking for volunteers to assist with fundraisers, events, or office work. The benefit of this is that you can chose when you want to volunteer without having to worry about changing your schedule. Don’t have plans one night? Don’t stay in. Why not spend a couple free hours making signs for a 5K run, packing food for the homeless, or even tutoring someone? Do it solo, or with a group of friends and make an evening out of it. You can volunteer once a week or once a month. No matter when you volunteer, it allows you the opportunity to meet and interact with the organizations you are contributing to. It makes the impact of giving that much more memorable. Who knows, you might even make some new friends along the way.
Make small donations towards a bigger whole
When it comes time to make a monetary donation, no amount is too much or too little. Get a group of people together who want to donate and make something big out of it. That way, everyone is contributing the same amount and budgets are kept in check. Sponsor a team for a fundraising run, create a care package for a soldier overseas, or provide a great meal to a family in need. The possibilities here are really endless.
Challenge yourself each time to see how many more people you can get to join. The more contributions mean costs can be offset, allowing you to contribute in a big way, without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that come tax season, your contributions may also be used as a deductible. Nonprofits will often provide receipts documenting your donation for you to use when doing your taxes.
Give new life to unwanted belongings
Many of us tend to make a habit out of holding onto things for too long, or worse, purchasing items that we never end up using. Going forward, make a rule for yourself: If you want something new, get rid of something else that you don’t need anymore. This provides the perfect opportunity to not only get yourself organized, but also give to a cause instead of just chucking unwanted belongings in the garbage. Take a look at what organizations near you are in need of gently used clothes, shoes, electronics, toys, furniture, and home goods. In addition, consider how your donations can not only help the beneficiaries of a nonprofit, but the organization as well. Think about unused office supplies or even reading materials that can enhance the environment or services a nonprofit provides.
And, it’s not just our closets that we are looking to clear out every once in a while. Food banks are always on the lookout for donations of nonperishable groceries. Take a look through your pantry to see what you can give away, or buy a couple of extra nonperishable items to donate to your local food bank. Some food bank organizations may even be at your local supermarket with a list of items that they can collect from you that same day.
Although nonprofit organizations are surely grateful for your generosity, avoid shoving everything you want to get rid of in your car and simply dumping it all out at a nonprofit’s front door. They can only handle and store so many donations at once. Instead, make a detailed list of items you do have and give them a call to see what they are looking for.
While times get tough for all of us, continuing to extend a helping hand to those in need will undoubtedly make life a little richer in more ways than one. And, by thinking outside of your bank account, you can give back within your budget.
At Wintrust, we’re proud to give back to the communities we call home. That’s why we’re proud to support the organizations, nonprofits, and people who are working hard to improve this area.