There is a lot going on in the world around us. Making us want to do our part, and contribute where we can to the causes we believe in. However, this can seem challenging, daunting, and even leave us feeling guilty, when we just don’t have the spare dollars to put into the causes we believe in or donate where we can.
- What types of causes are you most passionate about? Is it animal care, supporting refugees, or the local library where so much knowledge is shared? Consider what is important to you, as this will help you find a good fit and keep you motivated.
- Do you want to bring your friends and family together to help out or do you prefer to take on an initiative alone? Bringing your loved ones together to give back can be great for bonding but doing a solo project can also be very satisfying. Decide what is right for you.
- How much time or resources are you willing to expend? Once a week or once a month or just a couple of times per year? Different organizations may require more commitment so determining what is reasonable is a good first step.
Ways to give back that don’t cost money
Now that you’ve asked yourself the above, here are some ways that you can give back that don’t involve spending an arm and a leg.
Look for ways to do nice for others
Giving doesn’t always need to be monetary, consider giving through actions instead. Think of gestures that could go a long way. Here are some examples of that:
- Leave a review for your favourite local businesses online
- Review your favourite podcasters, musicians, or authors online
- Find ways to donate your time
A good ol’ random act of kindness does not get old or go undervalued. Simple things like the below can make someone’s day:
- Smile and say “hello”
- Stop complaining
- Give someone a compliment
- Write a kind letter
- Bring someone a meal
- Help the environment by doing your part
Donate your clothing or other items
Again, donating doesn’t need to be monetary. A great way you can give back is by donating your clothing, or other household items that you no longer need or use to a charity of your choice. There are so many out there that are seeking these sorts of items beyond just the Salvation Army & Value Village. Some other ideas are:
- Donating directly to homeless shelters seeking items
- Dress for Success is a worldwide organization that seeks business casual clothing to help women who need the right clothes to land the job, but may not have the means to do so
- The Humane Society of local animal shelters can often use items like old blankets, sheets, pillows, bedding, etc. for their animals
If you are looking at where you can start in terms of offloading the items you don’t want or need. Here is some inspo that can help you:
- Give away any clothes you don’t wear
- Give away the books you don’t read or have already read
- Donate lightly used toys or stuffed animals that your kids no longer play with
- Make something you can donate (blankets, mittens and hats to homeless shelters, etc.)
- Donate your hair (several organizations will take it to make wigs for cancer patients)
One of the easiest ways to give back and get involved in a cause or charity you believe in is to seek out volunteer opportunities. Not only will this make you feel good, but many organizations depend on volunteers to operate. There are thousands of volunteer opportunities that exist out there, so whether you’re interested in working with kids, helping the elderly, or spending time with pets in need, there is definitely an option out there for you. Volunteer Canada can be a great database to start your search.
Volunteer your pet
Have a cat or a dog? Lots of organizations look for pets that can help with mental health at schools, hospitals, elderly homes, etc. Your pet may need to pass a minor test to get certified, but then you can volunteer to bring them to visit people who could use some cheering up from your fur baby. Organizations like Therapeutic Paws of Canada can be a go-to resource to get involved.
Become a mentor
Your professional skill set can be of great value to someone not as experienced in your field of work. That’s why being a mentor can be a great way for you to utilize skills you already have to help others. Whether you are a successful entrepreneur looking to help new start-ups succeed, or a senior marketing professional looking to help navigate someone more junior through their career, a mentor can be one of the most valuable assets for professionals of all levels. Organizations like Futurpreneur Canada have great mentorship programs available that have no charge to you.
During the pandemic we’ve been living through, this may not be top-of-mind. It may not seem like the appropriate time to give blood, but there is ALWAYS a need for it. Especially during times like now. If you meet the requirements to donate, and don’t mind the thought of getting needles, this can be a fantastic way to give back. Check out the Canadian Blood Services for more information.
Use your voice
Don’t underestimate how powerful your voice alone could be. If you have a favourite charity or cause you support, speak about it on your social media channels and with your network. Share videos, stories, re-post content the charity posts. By educating the people around you about an issue, or cause, you can easily be doing good without breaking the bank.
Tax deductibles for giving back
One of the benefits of giving monetary donations to charities is that you are able to claim these donations on your income tax each year if you are provided with a proper receipt from the registered charity. For more details on claiming donations on your taxes, click here. There are a few things you should keep in mind according to TurboTax.
For starters, to claim your credit on your annual tax return, the rule at a federal level is that your credit will be 15% of the first $200 of donations and 29% of your additional donations. All provinces have similar credits which fluctuate between 4-24%. The CRA provides an online tool that will help you calculate your credit and the provincial component.
Since 2013, there is also an additional credit to new donors which allows you to be eligible for an additional credit of 25% for the first $1,000 in donations.
The CDTC is greater for donations higher than $200, so it may be worthwhile to accumulate donations and claim them all together in the same year. There are two ways you can do this:
- You can combine them with your spouse’s on a single tax return
- You can claim donations from multiple years together in the same year (donations can be carried forward for up to five years)
Budgeting for giving back
If you do have spare dollars to donate but just want to ensure you are budgeting properly and not spending dollars when you should be allocating them to other things, budgeting is a key component here. You don’t need us to stress enough how important having a budget is. A budget should account for not just your needs and wants, but also things you are passionate about giving back to.
If you are looking to be more serious when it comes to donating money to charities or causes, this is a good option for you to consider. What does your budget look like and where is there room to allocate dollars towards the causes you want. Here’s what we would recommend doing:
- If you don’t have a budget already, lay all your expenses out. First start with the necessities like your mortgage/rent, car payments, hydro, etc.
- Next, make sure you’ve already included within your budget your savings or debt repayments. How much are you putting towards debt each month? How much are you saving in your RRSP or for other commitments or wants?
- When you have an idea of what you have left over after subtracting the above from your monthly income, it’s now time to consider what you’d like to donate to charity that won’t force you to go over your budget, or not have the money you need for the other important things like savings, or necessities in your life.
Some charities allow you to sign-up to make a donation monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. Choose a donation plan that makes the most sense for your budget. For many people, they prefer to just make one-time donations, however, other people who feel the want to donate more frequently, signing up for a recurring plan can be best as you get used to the donations automatically coming out of your account/off your credit card, and you learn pretty quickly how to live without those dollars.
To get yourself starting in being more involved and giving back, it’s important to ask yourself the three important questions that were listed above to help determine what type of opportunity or commitment you are willing to give. After that, look at the various ways you can give back in your community and determine what is the right fit for you. It’s important to be passionate about the cause to feel motivated.
What are your tips for getting involved in the community?