Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ll donate to charity when I’m rich”? I know I have. I have fantasies of giving thousands of dollars to causes that I care about. But for most of us, that’s just not an option, and it might never be. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be wealthy to be able to donate to charity.
I have fantasies of giving thousands of dollars to causes that I care about. But for most of us, that’s just not an option, and it might never be.
The key is to do some planning and be realistic. Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Choose one or two causes
You can’t contribute to every cause you care about. Once, when I was having a meltdown about mountaintop removal and cancer and everything else that is wrong in the world, my dad told me that there are people for every cause. For every tragic circumstance, there is a team of people working to make it right. It’s important to remember that, because you can’t try to fix everything or you’ll burn out. Choose your top one or two issues and go from there. If you need some help deciding, check out this piece about values.
2. See what fits in your budget
The key to financial stability is having a budget that works for you. Remember, you don’t need to go broke to support causes that mean a lot to you. Take a look at how much you have coming in every month, and how much is required to go back out. If you have money leftover (that doesn’t need to go to savings or debt), pick a number that feels comfortable to you. This could be either monthly or on a less frequent basis. For example, I donate to Collective Action for Safe Spaces every month, but I typically give to EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood once a year. I made that decision based on the needs of the organizations, and my personal connection to them.
3. Stick to a schedule
It can be tempted to donate a little bit of money whenever you receive an email asking you to. But that can quickly get out of control. A better way to donate is to either pay annual membership dues, or choose a set monthly amount to give.
4. Volunteer your time
Like I said in a past article, if your income or budget don’t allow for you to donate to all of the organizations that you love, there are other things you can do. Sign up to volunteer for organizations in your city! Then, pay attention. Sign up for the organizations’ newsletters and follow them on social media. That way, you’ll know when they need you the most, whether for donations, signing petitions, joining protests, or volunteering.
Which causes do you care about the most? Share in the comments!
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.