Money

8 Ways To Contribute To A Good Cause – Even If You’re Flat Broke

Is there a way to be charitable and make a difference without money? You bet your empty wallet there is.

Living pay cheque to pay cheque isn’t easy at the best of times – and it gets harder still when it comes to being charitable. A lot of the time it seems that the only way to help those less fortunate than us is by throwing money at their problems. From fundraising balls that cost thousands of dollars (including ball gown and hair-do) to charity workers in the street that shake your hand before trying to gouge you of half your monthly wage, we’re often led to believe that the only contribution we can make is financial. But we’re here to let you know that you can make a difference – and it will barely cost you a cent.

#1 Write a letter

There are a lot of people out there doing it tough right now – including asylum seekers, the elderly and prisoners. And while you might not be able to help them out financially, they sure would love to hear that you’re thinking of them. A variety of services allow you to write to someone who could use a buddy. Whether you’re acting as a shoulder to cry on, an advocate or even just a friend, those who are less fortunate are human like the rest of us, and to know that there is someone there to listen to them could mean the world.


#2 Fundraise

Every month there seems to be another friend popping up on Facebook who has pledged to forgo alcohol, grow a moustache, walk 10,000 steps a day, or give up meat in return for your donations. You might be sick of the constant statuses asking for money, but these gimmicks are actually for a good cause – and if you’re the one fundraising, you don’t have to fork out a dime (although you probably should). You’ll be surprised how many people will happily put forth money if you’re giving up the booze for cancer, sprouting facial hair for men’s health, tying up your runners for kids with cerebral palsy, or going veggo to support animal welfare. Just don’t forget to post regular updates on social media, reminding people of what you’re doing, and what your goal is.


#3 Cut your hair

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Your mum might have a conniption if you chop off your locks, but we’re sure she’ll understand if it’s for a great cause. Organisations such as Variety accept donated ponytails, which they turn into wigs for people who have lost their hair while undergoing treatment for cancer. Yes, you might miss your tresses, but having a full head of hair can give cancer patients that little bit of normality they might be missing thanks to chemotherapy and surgeries. Plus, your hair will grow back; you’ll be swishing that mane in no time.


#4 Volunteer

Sure, this is an obvious one, but just think of all the charities and non-profits that wouldn’t exist without the help of volunteers. Put your hand up to work in a Salvos’ op-shop, drive a van for OzHarvest, or pick up a garbage bag and collect rubbish from a local beach or park. With a huge variety of charities and organisations looking for volunteers, you’re more than likely find a volunteering opportunity that’s close to your heart.


#5 Give your blood

There’s not too much that’s glamorous about donating blood: needles and bags of plasma do not a good time make. But donating blood helps so many people: potentially three people each time you contribute, in fact. These could be cancer sufferers (who benefit from one third of all donated blood), people who have been in road accidents, people undergoing surgery, or burns victims. Sold yet? You get a snack and a drink afterwards – so really, it’s a win-win.


#6 Babysit a puppy

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Yes, you heard right. Every guide dog you see used to be a puppy. And puppies need people to take care of them. Enter you. If you can spare a few hours a week, are relatively active and are happy to regularly play with a puppy, you might be eligible to help raise a guide dog. Not only do you get a tiny little bundle of doggy energy bouncing around your house for a little under a year, but you get to bid farewell to the pup knowing that he or she is going to help someone who could use a hand making their way through the world.


#7 Donate

Not your money – your belongings. Do you really need that pair of boots you haven’t worn in three years? Upgraded to a queen bed, but still have your double bedding? Bought a new couch and need to get rid of your old one? These all present prime opportunities to help out in a way that not only benefits yourself (getting rid of stuff you’ll end up sending to the tip), but someone else as well (the lucky recipient of a desperately needed doona, or money from your clothes that have been sold at a charity store). Most suburbs have donation bins for donating small objects and clothes; charities will often pick up any larger objects such as furniture.


#8 Download Folo

You may be broke, but you shouldn’t feel guilty for treating yourself every now and again. Download Folo, a browser extension, to your computer. Then spend up at one of 700 participating online stores – think The Iconic, Virgin Australia, Etsy and Oroton – and the shop will donate a percentage of your purchase to Folo, who will then pass on that donation to a charity of your choice. The extension will even show up when you’re Googling to show you which stores have registered with Folo, making it super easy to make a conscious choice to shop in a way that will benefit others.


Che-Marie Trigg is a freelance writer and full-time subeditor. Her work has appeared in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Collective Hub and GoPlaces with Toyota magazines among others, as well as on websites like Broadsheet and Junkee. Follow her on Instagram @chemariet.