Thursday, 21 January 2010

Simple & Frugal Ways To Give

By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

The current situation in Haiti is grave, it is hard to actually imagine what it must be like to see people being operated on by the side of the road, families starving to death, thousands of people dying in front of you and millions or orphans with nowhere to go. Before I downshifted and simplified I often felt overwhelmed by need and struggled to understand how I could help. As life has become simpler and I have more control of my finances it seems a lot easier to find different ways to help, different ways to encourage others and different ways to use the talent and time I have. I have so much less financially than I did last year or the year before and yet I'm able to do more. A few friends has said to me that they can't even watch the news because they know there is nothing they can do, their comments have made me think about putting a post together with a list of things you can do - for big budgets and small budgets, for those with time and those without. I would love if any readers contributed ideas as I hope this post inspires people to realize their talents big and small and find ways they can help!

Giving Money

  • Allot a certain amount each month into the budget for giving! I find this helps me budget for helping others in the same way I budget for my rent, bills, car etc!
  • Find a charity whose philosophy you agree with - I sponsor children through World Vision and their updates and letters just bring me such joy!
  • Keep a jar in your home for coins which you can allot for spontaneous giving! This means when there is a disaster or when someone in your circle of family/friends is trying to fundraise you have money handy to give!
  • When there is a disaster or need, look at areas of the budget you can cut out! For example, I have a budget for a weekly hot chocolate or coffee with friends, that £3 a week is a very easy luxury to go without over the next few months so that I can give more to projects in Haiti!
  • Look for tiny yet still important ways to give - spare change after the weekly shop to charity boxes or people collecting!
  • Remember charities in your will
  • Remember giving in your yearly plans/goals
  • Remember that we all have different gifts, you may not be able to go to Haiti to help, but your small donation might help someone else be able to go to Haiti to provide care for those in need!

Giving Time

  • There are thousands of charities which are collecting for Haiti and other countries in need - could you donate a few hours to collect money or fundraise?
  • Several charities are packaging items to send to disaster areas, could you give an evening or 1/2 a day at the weekend to help box up items?
  • Could you organize a fundraiser? Even having a meal at your home and asking friends or family to attend and make a donation which you will give to a charity like Red Cross or World Vision or Doctors Without Borders?
  • Could you make something to sell with the profits going to a charity?
  • Could you attend a fundraiser put on by a Church or charity or group? I am all set to attend one this weekend and am really looking forward to it :)
  • Could you send an email to friends and family with links to organizations collecting or fundraisers?

Giving Things

  • Do you have anything you could sell where you could give the profits to charity?
  • Do you have any clothing, jewelry, shoes, books, knick knacks that you could give to a charity shop?

Spiritual/Faith

  • Could you say a prayer, light a candle, hold people in your thoughts?
  • Could you talk to others about the need, which might encourage them to act?

None of these ideas are time consuming or earth shattering, I hope they are simple and easy and encourage others to think about the ways they can give. In this season of my life, which includes both unemployment and opening my home to friends who are homeless due to burst pipes, it can be very very hard to believe that you are in a position to help and yet the more I commit to simple, frugal and green living, the more I see the opportunities to help are all around!

I do so hope some of you might be able to share any giving ideas you have!