3 Ways to Give Back Without Spending Money

The holidays are coming up. This is normally the time everyone focuses on giving back, both time and money, to those who need it the most.

If you want to give back to your community, but you’re struggling to find time to help, or are flat out broke, it can be difficult.


Here are a few creative ways to give back when you can’t afford it: 

What to do if you have no money

Serve your family dinner

If you’re among those who gather for a family dinner around the holidays, consider chipping in. If you have no money to pay for anything, try baking a dessert, or cooking a side dish.

Lack cooking skills? Offer to do the dishes after the meal, or clean the dining room. You can even bring a game for your family to play together. Or, setup the dining room before the meal.


Volunteer to serve a holiday meal

If you aren’t getting together with your family, consider serving others a meal by volunteering with a soup kitchen, or shelter. Be sure to reach out to your organization of choice before the holiday approaches so they know how many volunteers they should expect. Trust and believe serving others benefits you just as much as it does them. Maybe more.


Donate clothes, supplies, or food

If you have lightly-worn clothes in your closet consider bagging them up and donating them to a thrift store that supports a shelter, group home, or soup kitchen. If your clothes still have tags on them you can donate them to the Salvation Army.


If you’re like me and have a ton of unused school supplies, notebooks, and art supplies lying around you can donate those items to a local school. Often teachers have to buy specialty items from their own paychecks. A donation of supplies is a gift that can help both the teacher while providing joy for their students.


RELATED: How To Avoid Burnout When Helping Others This Holiday Season


Lastly, if you have canned vegetables in your cabinet, now is the best time to donate them to a local pantry. Most holiday meals incorporate side dishes like corn, green beans, and rice. Donate those items to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and churches. There are even schools and colleges hosting canned food drives that you can donate to.


What to do if you can’t spare any time:

Donate money

This is probably obvious, but there are many places, communities, and people you can donate money to. You don’t have to donate hundreds of dollars to make a difference. Every little bit truly helps.

If you are trying to figure out which places are credible, check out communities and organizations near you. There are usually local soup kitchens, or churches, who could use funds to purchase food for holiday meals. And many shelters could use money to continue their work.

You can even donate money to relatives who are paying for Thanksgiving dinner alone. To host a large dinner of that magnitude is expensive. Sliding some coins a family member’s way can truly help alleviate some financial burdens.


Pay for an item off a wish list

The age of social media has expanded our reach exponentially. Many times we are inundated with requests to support others, all we have to do is pay attention. If you have no time, but have a few coins, consider donating money to your favorite content producer as a way of saying thank you.


Your donation doesn’t have to be much. Many have Patreons that you can donate as little as $1 to. Consider sending a coffee gift card to a tweeter who regularly inspires you. You can even purchase items from wish lists you see floating through the timeline.


How will you be giving back this holiday season?

By: Brittany Melton

Brittany Melton is a logo and web designer of 11 years. She has worked corporately for brands such as BMW, the University of Alabama, and Target. She has been featured in Quirktastic, Search Engine Journal, and Madame Noir, just to name a few. Brittany launched her first successful business on Etsy in 2012. After hitting a few hundred sales and being featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, she used her design skills from the corporate world to venture out on her own. Ever since then, she's been working full-time as a freelance designer helping new creatives launch their brands and businesses. Twitter: @xobritdear Instagram: @xobritdear