How to be a Broke Philanthropist

Common knowledge dictates that a philanthropist by definition is someone so wealthy that they can donate entire libraries to colleges or single-handedly repair an economy or pay off their caddy’s student loan debt. While many aspire to this level of wealth, you don’t have to be this loaded to practice philanthropy. Even if you make an average salary, there are lots of ways you can donate small sums of money that will make a big difference to organizations and people in need. Here are some ways you can practice philanthropy even if you’re a little bit broke.

Pledge $5 per month to your favorite organization. Many nonprofits rely heavily on donations and contributions to plan out their activities. While surprise lump-sums are wonderful, it’s helpful to such organizations to have pledges that they can count on so they can plan their fiscal years in advance. Even if the amount you can contribute is small, that “steady income” is invaluable.

Collect spare change. While it may not seem like much, a year’s worth of spare change could add up over time. At the end of a week, empty your purse or pockets into a jar, and every year or so, count it up and donate the money to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. Not only will you get to enjoy the thrill of seeing how much you’ve been able to collect over time, but can see how a little forethought can help a cause a lot.

Use your birthday to raise money for a cause. While variations on this idea have been in existence for some time, many have started harnessing their birthdays to raise money for a charity of their choice. Facebook recently rolled out a integrated way for people to contribute to a cause directly on their personal pages, and other sites offer similar services. Rather than collect a whole bunch of stuff you don’t need, you can ask your friends and family to support a good cause instead.

Always “round up.” Many retailers will ask if you’d like to “round up” your order to the next dollar so that the leftover cents go to a charity. Again, this may not seem like very much money, since it’s guaranteed to be under a dollar, but if everyone at a certain store does it, that money will add up quickly. Never pass up the little ways to give back.

Contribute portions from proceeds. There are countless apps for selling stuff you don’t need anymore. From Vinted to Craigslist to Letgo, many young people are taking advantage of such apps to purge unnecessary items from their homes and make a little cash on the side. As you sell off clothes and appliances you don’t use anymore, save a certain percentage to donate to a charity or nonprofit of your choice. That way, you’re not losing out on any money you were counting on from a paycheck, and you’re still helping out an organization near and dear to your heart.


Originally published at davidaylor.org.