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Ways to Give to Charity Without Breaking the Bank

Ways to Give to Charity Without Breaking the Bank

With today’s economy as hideous as it is, a lot of people balk at the idea of giving to charity: many of us live very frugally out of necessity, and we don’t necessarily have a load of extra cash to pour towards charitable or non-profit organizations. That said, Mother Theresa was right on point when she said: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” It doesn’t take much effort to make a dramatic difference in another’s life, so if any of these low-cost charitable actions appeal to you, consider taking part in a couple of them.

Virtual Donations

Help doesn’t have to happen face-to-face: if you’re housebound (or shy), you can help out from the comfort of your own home.

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  • Click to help others. The Greater Good web hub allows you to donate items to the needy with a simple click of your mouse. You can choose to support breast cancer research, anti-hunger campaigns, organizations that work towards eliminating cruelty to animals, and many others.
  • Play a Game. For every answer you get right in their numerous online games, Free Rice will donate rice to the World Food Programme to end hunger.
  • Sign Petitions. There are countless issues around the world that are in need of addressing, and chances are you’ll find an online petition for any cause that you feel strongly about. Signing a petition doesn’t take long, and can result in some amazing, positive change. Every signature is a voice, and sometimes those who cannot speak for themselves need us to stand up and speak out on their behalf.

The Gift of Time

If you don’t have much extra change lying around, chances are you may have a bit of time to spare. Instead of spending an hour looking at cat videos on YouTube or liking various people’s Facebook posts, you could fill those 60 minutes by doing something that could benefit other people. Websites such as Idealist and Charity Village post all manner of volunteer opportunities, so you can donate your time in a way that suits you best.

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If you’re a fairly social person and like the idea of hands-on charitable support where you can interact with the public, consider helping out in one of the following ways:

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  • Volunteering at an animal shelter. The furred and feathered friends waiting for adoption at shelters need a lot of love and attention; generally more than the staff members can allot to each one. If you’re an animal lover, consider volunteering to walk dogs, brush cats, or just spend time interacting with the birds and little furry creatures. They’re likely scared and confused, and being gentle and attentive can lift their spirits and give them  better chances of being re-homed.
  • Spending time with elderly residents in retirement homes. Many elderly people who live in care facilities are really quite lonely: those who don’t have family members living nearby may not ever receive visitors, and those who may be confined to bed or wheelchairs can’t really take part in facility events. Some may enjoy being read to, others might like to chat about the past over a cup of tea, and some may feel immensely useful if they can help you learn to knit, or learn a new language.
  • Helping out at a soup kitchen or food bank. Despite what you may have been led to believe, not all of the clients at soup kitchens are violent, schizophrenic homeless people who’ll attack you with broken umbrellas if you don’t greet their imaginary friends. Sadly, many who visit soup kitchens and food banks are poverty-stricken families with young children, students who have to choose between tuition and meals, and highly educated people who’ve found themselves unemployed thanks to the recession. You can help to nourish people’s spirits by letting them know that they’re worthy of kindness and respect, while you’re ensuring that they enjoy a warm meal.
  • Offering companionship at a hospice. This one might be difficult for people who are emotionally sensitive, as hospices are care facilities for the dying. Many people find it difficult to face mortality, and spending time with those whose lives are ending isn’t easy. That said, if you feel that you’re in a position to be able to offer your assistance to these patients, be it by reading to them, helping them with paperwork, or just holding their hand and listening to them, the experience can be incredibly rewarding for all involved.

Put Your Skills to Work

If you have some great skills and would like to use them for the benefit of others, there are many ways in which you can help out:

  • Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Are you handy with a hammer? Habitat for Humanity is always on the lookout for people who have carpentry and building skills.
  • Make warm clothes for newborns and orphans. There are many organizations worldwide that accept handmade or knitted accessories and clothes for premature newborns and orphaned children.
  • Knit or crochet for those in need. If you’re an avid knitter or crocheter, consider using scrap yarn to make blankets and warm clothing for homeless outreach programs, animal shelters and rehabilitation centers, elderly folks living in poverty, or those living in refugee camps. 

Other Donations

Should you still wish to give to charity but don’t have time or money to give, then consider cleaning out your closets and cupboards for items to donate. Food banks are always in need of canned goods and other non-perishable items, and gently used clothes, blankets, and toys can be put to great use in women’s shelters and homeless outreach programs.

There’s always some way in which we can help others, and if we are able to do so, we probably should.

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More by this author

Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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