How You Should Budget For Charitable Giving Even If You Aren’t Rich

How You Should Budget For Charitable Giving Even If You Aren’t Rich

By Charlie Waters

The world is in need. Desperate need in fact. And make no mistake about it, you can help. You can be charitable even if you’re not rolling in money. And you may feel like your contribution might make no difference, but that’s not the case. We’re going to talk about why that is, but first, take a second to consider what the world is actually going through right now:

Even though sometimes it might not feel like it, there are millions and millions of people out there right now who are living in extreme poverty and many who are dying of starvation. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the world’s problems. When we think charity, the first things that generally come to mind are the issues of poverty and hunger, but there are many more issues that require charitable support, too.

The elderly, the disabled, those who suffer from mental health issues, refugees — the list goes on and on. There are so many people out there who need help but unfortunately not enough who know about it.

We kind of get ourselves into a little bit of a bubble. It’s not our fault really. Everyone sees the world through their own eyes and has their own perspective, and it makes sense that those who aren’t suffering could be unaware of the severity of other people’s suffering. And even if they know about it, they might not think that there’s anything that they can do to help out. But as I said before, this is not the case. 

Some might think it’s a waste of time to donate to charities unless you’re a billionaire, that the only people making a dent in these massive global problems are the Bill Gates and the Warren Buffets of the world. Those people are definitely making a lot of headway, but could you imagine if everyone else was helping out, too?

Imagine how many of the problems we could solve if everyone who was living comfortably gave even just a small fraction of their income to help those in need. And I know living comfortably doesn’t necessarily mean you have lots of cash to throw around, but it doesn’t need to be much. Even a little bit counts towards something, and the more people who contribute, the more people who will benefit. 

Think about how much you can afford to spare right now, and then enter it here so you can see how much your contribution will actually help. Then consider these extra steps that you can take to factor being charitable into a tight budget and increase your capacity to donate even more:

Set Up a Giving Account

It’s odd that giving accounts aren’t more common, but it’s probably just because a lot of people don’t really know about them. A charitable giving account is a great way to ensure that you are consistently giving to charity without even really having to think about it.

The interesting thing about it in America is that there is a system in place that allows for the money you give through your giving account to be made up of pre-tax income. This arrangement ultimately means that the net cost for participants is less than the net gain for the charities.

The idea behind a giving account would be that you make a monthly contribution into an account, which will then be transferred to a charity of your choice or perhaps spread out across multiple charities. And you can set up your account so that your contributions recur automatically and you don’t have to think about it.

There are also Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs), which work similarly in that they allow you to give a portion of your income automatically without you having to do anything. It is much more difficult to actively transfer the funds yourself. It seems odd because you know that the money is coming out, but having to personally pay the funds and watch your bank balance decrease is not as easy as just putting an automated system in place.


This is an excellent system which can double the amount of money that you end up giving to charity. How this works is an employee of a company will raise a certain amount of money for charity, and the employer then agrees to match that employee contribution.

Matching is especially effective and especially accessible for people who don’t necessarily make that much money because when you donate you are basically donating twice as much as the money you give.

Moreover, the agreement with the employer to match what the employee raises puts less pressure on the fundraiser and on those who donate. This is a great way to contribute a small amount of your own money as a part of a much larger overall donation. See if your employer would be interested in being a part of this and try the fundraising yourself.

Or be on the lookout for companies that do have a matching program in place and donate to the fundraisers that they’re running. Big collaborative efforts like these which don’t depend on massive individual donations to be successful.

Find Extra Sources of Income

This will actually be helpful for you in general and will also allow you to feel more comfortable giving to charity. If you still feel like you want to donate but your income isn’t strong enough for it to be justifiable, consider ways of strengthening your income.

This doesn’t necessarily have to mean getting another job (although if you have the time and energy that would work). Consider turning one of your hobbies into a trade, renting out a room, or becoming a pet sitter or a house sitter.

Or perhaps the most reliable of these options would be to start investing. Some of us get turned away from the idea of investing because it involves giving away money and not getting any in return straight away. But if you’re smart about your investments and you have some patience, you can make a great return on investment (ROI) from it.

For someone who’s new to investing, the best course of action is to look for dividend-yielding stocks because this will guarantee you a share of the company’s profits. So if you definitely want to donate to charities but would like a bit more money, these are great options.

Help Yourself!

Being charitable is not just good for helping out those in need. It’s also good for your mental health, too. A helper’s high is a real thing: it boosts your self-esteem and your self-worth and helps you feel like you’re making a difference. 

So if you feel like you can’t give as much to charity as you want and you don’t have the resources for it, try to think about it in a different way and explore other options. Because they’re definitely out there. 

About the Author: Charlie Waters has been in the online content world for over 25 years as a freelance writer, covering different topics such as finance and sustainability. When he’s not writing, Charlie enjoys long walks, playing chess, and getting a good night’s sleep!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Life You Can Save or any other organization.  Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers, who take full responsibility for their content.  The Life You Can Save is not responsible for and does not verify the accuracy of the information contained in this blog or in the comments.  The primary purpose of this blog is to educate and inform and does not constitute professional advice.

Copyright © The Life You Can Save.  All rights reserved.

Share this story:

Related stories:


About the author:

Guest Blogger

The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.