Wanting to do something to improve your community is a powerful and worthy goal, but when every other kid with a clipboard is asking for monthly donations on the street and you have just enough to get you a pack of ramen to last you through the week, it can be hard to figure out where you can help. Small funds doesn’t mean you can’t have a big impact, though. Here are a few options for giving back when money is tight.

Volunteer

If you don’t have money to give, maybe give a bit of your time, instead. Look online with portals like Idealist.org or VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities in your area. Find something that is of interest to you, and give the time you can to it. If you like animals, consider a local rescue or pet shelter. If you prefer working with people, maybe an after-school program would suit you. Maybe you want to help but you aren’t much for face-to-face time. In that case, virtual volunteering could be your match. There are plenty of organizations out there that need your help, and plenty of opportunities that fit your skill set and schedule. Just take a look and and see what suits you.

Give Goods

Maybe you don’t have money to give, but you’ve probably got some stuff that you don’t use. It might not be your favorite collection of goods, but other people could really benefit from your impulse buys and gently used items. Donating clothes in good condition to an operation like Goodwill is a good start, but donating them to a local shelter might do even more good. Same with that fleece throw you bought for the sofa but have never actually used. Those cans of vegetables that you keep buying even though you never actually use them would do a world of good at your local foodbank, especially when it’s not the holiday season. Those organizations get inundated around the holidays, but are hard pressed to find support during other seasons.

Make A Microloan

Perhaps you can’t commit to monthly contributions, but you picked up a good time or a couple hours of overtime this week and you’ve got a spare $20 or $25. Rolling that money into a microloan with a service like Kiva lets you support the goals of a person in need - either at home or halfway around the world. You’ll be able to pick the person to whom you want to loan, and over time, your money will be repaid with interest. Meanwhile, you’re helping to support a person who has real needs, often business or education, in a situation where they are unable to get a conventional loan, often because of gender, class, location, or some combination. Once the loan has been repaid, you can either roll the money over into another loan, or have it deposited back in your bank.

Spare Some Change

Don’t let your spare change accumulate in the bottom of your purse or the cupholder in your car. Toss it into one of those jars you see by the cash register that seeks to support a philanthropic cause. It may not seem like you’re giving much to you, but the collective contributions made by these donations can be major.

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