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How to help people without giving money

Updated on December 13, 2014
erinshelby profile image

Erin Shelby is passionate about living a lifestyle that aims for financial freedom. She writes about personal finance and other topics.


If you’d like to help others and make your community a better place, local charities might have you thinking that there’s nothing you can do to help if you can’t afford to make a cash donation. If you have a desire to help people, there’s plenty you can do without writing a check or handing over a stack of bills. Here’s how to make your community better without giving money.

Donate Your Time

If you’ve got time on your hands, chances are, there’s a charity that can use every minute of it! Soup kitchens and food banks need help keeping their shelves stocked and distributing food to recipients at all times of the year. Schools can use volunteers to help kids reach their full potential and groups like Habitat For Humanity can really use your help if you're experienced in construction. To find other places to donate your time, check out where you can search for non-profit groups in your community that welcome volunteers.

Proceeds from The Salvation Army's stores fund programs that strengthen the community.
Proceeds from The Salvation Army's stores fund programs that strengthen the community. | Source

Get Rid of Old Stuff

Have you cleaned out your closets lately? Clothing, shoes, furniture, kitchen utensils and other items in your home that you no longer want will be greatly appreciated by Goodwill or The Salvation Army for sale in their retail stores to fund their non-profit work. Goodwill provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities and job search assistance while The Salvation Army provides adult rehabilitation programs and disaster relief. You can find donation bins at your local store or visit their websites and your donation may be tax-deductible – call for details.

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Use Your Talents

If you’d like to give back to your community, a good place to start can be by looking at what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Do you speak a second language, have a musical talent, enjoy working with young people or senior citizens or have a skill that most people don’t like American Sign Language? You can also look at groups you’re already involved in – such as your church – and see where they need help and how that matches with what you’re good at. Is your church lacking a group that you think is desperately needed? If there’s a talent you have that you think will benefit the community, you can start talking to community leaders about how to use it in a service capacity.

Make Travel a Do-Good Endeavor

Want to help those devastated by a natural disaster? While giving a cash donation is always appreciated, there’s another way to help. Singer Harry Connick Jr. urged people to visit Louisiana years after Hurricane Katrina hit because local businesses needed the tourism. Consider how your vacation plans could double as a do-good endeavor. By planning just part of your trip to an area that’s still trying to recover, your purchases on dining, entertainment and lodging won’t just be vacation purchases – they’ll help determined communities move towards a brighter future.

© 2013 erinshelby


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    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 4 years ago from United States

      Giving food to animal owners is a great idea, FlourishAnyway. I'm sure it's appreciated by those who need it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I used to help spay and neuter cats and dogs in low-income areas, and invariably the people would ask for money or help of some kind for themselves. For safety and financial reasons, it had to become a policy of mine never to give them money. However, I was able to provide them broken bags of dog or cat food (donated by grocery stores who couldn't sell the items damaged). I usually made spaying and neutering a condition of providing the food, so in the end everyone benefitted -- society, the animals, the owner, the store who didn't have to throw good food away. I'd urge people to be creative.

    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 4 years ago from United States

      Buying lunch is a great idea, Tuatha. Thanks for the comment.

    • Tuatha profile image

      Kari Shinal 4 years ago from AZ

      Enjoyed this article. I recall a situation where someone had a need. Rather than hand him cash, I took him through the line where I was having lunch. The look on his face was both priceless and heartwarming. Thank you for letting others know how to help people.

    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks for stopping by, Jean and vandynegl. Whether it's food or clothing, either of these that you give to someone in need will make a difference.

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 4 years ago from Ohio Valley

      These are good ideas! I have always donated to the salvation army and have now been teaching my children to do the same......every Christmas, we go through our toys to "donate to other kids who may not have any toys." Volunteering time is also a great idea! I do this for my kids' school.....they always need extra help with events and field trips.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

      It can matter so much to give a few bags of non perishable food to any food bank. I used to contribute a lot, and then ran into some money issues, but feel like I want to get involved again!

    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 4 years ago from United States

      Zubair, Thanks for your comment. I agree that helping an elderly neighbor is also worthwhile. Little things can really go a long way.

    • Zubair Ahmed profile image

      Zubair Ahmed 4 years ago

      Nice information and very useful. I usually help in this way when money is not the best thing to give. A day helping out the elderly neighbour or organising a community clean-up day. Goes a long way to better our society than just giving out money. Although that is also important where money can be of benefit.

      Thank you for sharing