27 Apr

How to be charitable on a budget


These days charity seems to make the headlines with the Notre-Dame fire, and the immediate wave of donations following. My blog entry coincided with the discussion on donations, flashiness or inappropriateness. The topic today is not about that though, the topic is about building a habit of being charitable, putting it in your agenda and in your budgeting as a regularity.   Charity starts at home, which means that you need to meet your needs first and then to disperse part of your wealth to the people in need. There is a certain stage though when we wish to be more charitable, to have a mindset of abundance, but we are not there yet on our goals. We wish to push harder to achieve our milestones, which in many cases means sacrifice. 


The big question is: how to be charitable when on a shoestring budget? 

Charity step #1 Donate your time

If it was a business venture, it was going to be called sweat equity. When your pockets are empty but you have skills to offer, which are good for mankind, that is more than a generous contribution. I like to join clean-up events when possible. There is plenty of trash to be collected. 

Charity step #2 Donate space

Be it your unused garage, a classroom or whatever space stays unutilized there is someone in dire need of it. I have to admit that I am the receiving end on this occasion. A very charitable soul allows me to store my dream home bits and pcs at their spare room. Very grateful to be on the receiving end too.

Charity step#3 Your pre-loved belongings.

I am a huge fan of Marie Kondo and her 3 pails “sparks joy” (a keeper), “thank and toss”, and “donation”. I am lucky to live in a country where charity shops and clothes donation bins are often to be seen. I make sure that twice a year some items make a way for new items in my life.


Charity step#4 Put your money where your mouth is

Coming from a country where begging and pledging money for shady institutions seemingly “helping those in need”, by which they mean need to fill their own pockets, I have a high level of mistrust in handing hard earned money to someone. So I would be very selective towards the organisations I trust. SMS here and there and endorsing a FB pledge, supporting charity organisations instead of a birthday gift is as far as my trust goes.

We also have a jar for donations which I fill regularly with all the coins that I find and something extra. The accrued amount from those small coin offerings is roughly 30 euros per year, slightly higher than my portfolio investment yield for last year. It feels good to see the jar filling up quickly, but the amount collected is nothing significant


There is another way to donate money and to make a real difference in someone’s life without jeopardizing your own financial goals. I was introduced to it by a young man, wise beyond his 23 years. (normally I would call men up to 60 “boys”, and after sixty would add “old boys”, but this young man impressed me with his life view, at such an early age of his life, so the word is like a badge of admiration for being so wise at such age). While talking about our investment portfolios I was explaining that my investment is predominantly a P2P investment. His answer was “Ah I know how p2p works, I donate like that”. The platform he donates on is called Kiva, and its concept resonated with me. The money donated, gets back to you – it is like a loan, but without interest. I liked that aspect for 3 reasons 

  • you donate towards what you are passionate about be it ecology, women’s rights. education – whatever flips your pancake 🙂 
  • because you know that you will eventually have the money back (to re-donate, or withdraw), you can untie your pocket with a bit bigger amount, so you make a bigger difference to someone. The feel-good factor is way bigger
  • Excluding donations for health issues, I am a believer that donating can be a very dangerous way of enabling bad behaviours and not beneficial to the party receiving it in the long run. By being bound to return the amount pledged I believe that the participants put more skin in the game and actually grow on their path

Being charitable is great, even for our own well being and karma if you wish, so – happy donating.
And happy Easter, to the orthodox Bunnies around :)))

Here is the link to the site www.kiva.org

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