Did you know that every major world religion includes charitable giving in the basic tenets of its beliefs? This list isn’t exhaustive, but religions with a tradition of charitable giving are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, and Scientology. You don’t need to be religious to believe in giving back and contributing to your community, but it’s worth mentioning that at the core of every faith is a desire to help our fellow humans.
Over the years, the number of people not actively associated with a church or religious organization has significantly grown. The number of people who identify as atheist or agnostic has doubled. These may seem unrelated to charitable giving, but these statistics have created interesting challenges for those who want to give back. Traditionally, people donate their time and money through religious organizations that contribute to helping the community. But as the number of faithful and faith in these institutions decreases, more people are left with a desire to help but no direction on how they can help.
What do you have to offer?
Making a financial donation is the first thing people think of when speaking of charity. Philanthropy is big business these days, with people like Bill Gates funding massive charitable programs. But charity isn’t just giving millions to rural villages without water; sometimes, it’s just offering a helping hand to someone who needs it.
You have more to offer than you think. Even if you don’t have the money to donate to causes, there are ways you can contribute that won’t cost you financially. You can donate your time and skills to help organizations or individuals. You can donate your old clothing or non-perishable food items to charitable organizations. You could even give of yourself by donating blood, signing up to be a stem cell donor, or even becoming an organ donor. Finally, you could help raise awareness of different causes that encourage others to give.
Finding Ways to Donate Your Time
Everyone has seen a movie or TV show with the characters spending time handing out food at a soup kitchen. And while feeding people is an incredibly crucial thing to do, it’s not the only way to help. Donating your time doesn’t have to be a social activity. You can join a highway clean-up group or a community garden that lets you work alone while working toward a common goal. You could also help raise awareness of issues by signing up for activities like fun runs, handing out water to participants, or helping set up and tear down.
You can also tailor your charitable acts to help out in specific areas. If you have a car, organizations like meals-on-wheels can always use volunteers to help drive food to people who cannot go out to get it. If you have specific skills, like framing, drywalling, or other trades, you can volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. For someone who loves kids and is certified to work with them, you can volunteer with programs at your local community center, library, or YMCA to help kids in your neighborhood get fit, develop better study habits, or stay out of trouble. There are many ways you can help donate your time; the important thing is to find something you like to do and then incorporate that into your charitable acts. Loving your charitable works is a great way to start being charitable and bring a difference in your community.
And for activities considered in-kind donations, they’re also tax write-offs depending on your local laws.
Giving of Yourself
Donating pieces of yourself may seem like something out of a Frankenstein movie, but it’s an incredibly generous, achievable, and affordable method to help your community. The easiest way is to find a blood donation center near you. Churches and university campuses often allow blood drives in their parking lots. They’re not affiliated with any specific religion, and anyone can donate. Giving blood is a great way to help people, as a single whole blood donation can save up to three lives, according to cedars-sinai.org. That’s an incredible gift for something we all make naturally. Donating blood also has health benefits, including free health screening for people who donate. Blood bank nurses will check your vital signs and screen you for infectious disease, and you’ll learn your blood type.
Regularly donating blood can also help reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attack, which is another great benefit.
Donating blood is one way to help, but if you want to do more, you can always sign up to be a bone marrow or stem cell donor. Often this puts you on a registry, and if someone, like a child with leukemia, needs bone marrow, clinics will compare your information against theirs. If you’re a match, you’ll get a call to save a life! If you want to do more after you die, you can always commit to being an organ donor. Organ donation is in high demand. More than a hundred thousand people in the USA today are waiting on an organ. You could save a life or seven if you decide to become a donor.
How to Donate Money
Finding the proper organization to give to is the biggest challenge in donating money. Sometimes finding something personal that influences your moral compass is the best way to figure out how to give. If someone you love experiences a rare illness, finding a charity dedicated to funding research into that illness might be the best way to help. Looking for projects that allow you to donate directly to them instead of through a third party is a great way to ensure that all your hard-earned and generously given money goes to the right place.
However, sometimes a third party is the best way to go. There are ways to donate money that won’t cost you more than you can afford. Giving change at a restaurant like McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House Charity is a good way that doesn’t break the bank. Another of those ways is buying from retailers like Spirit Peak Organics. They allow you to donate a portion of the proceeds from your purchase to an organization of your choice. Spirit Peak Organics currently supports The Wounded Warrior Project, The PTSD Foundation of America, and The Nature Conservancy.
We believe in supporting veterans and people experiencing mental illness symptoms and protecting our planet for future generations. We chose these charities to donate to because these issues have touched us personally and emotionally. We believe in these organizations and what they do to help the world around us.