Giving to charity is a great thing to be able to do, but if you have a lot of problem debt or you are trying hard to save up a house deposit, you may think you just can’t spare any money.
It’s fine to put your own family first – but that doesn’t mean you stop caring about and wanting to help other people.
And many parents want their children to grow up thinking giving to charity and volunteering is important.
But money isn’t the only thing that charities need. Time and skills are important commodities you could donate. You may be surprised by what exactly you could give that would be really valued.
Here are 7 ways you can help a charity without emptying your own pocket.
1) Give blood
Giving blood saves lives. Many people wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for blood donors.
According to the NHS, more than 200,000 new donors are needed each year to keep up with demand. Most people between 17- 65 are able to donate blood.
2) Be an organ donor
Along the same vein, being an organ donor is something quick and easy you can do that could make an enormous difference. At the start of 2018, there were more than 6,500 people in Britain waiting for a transplant.
Join the NHS Organ Donor Register – filling out the form only takes 2 minutes. Make sure you tell your family your wishes so they are aware of your desire to donate. And ask your kids if they would like to be donors too! There is no age limit for this.
3) Befriend an older person
200,000 older people say they haven’t had a conversation with friends or family in the past month. Loneliness can also be as harmful to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
There are two ways you can help an older person that might be feeling lonely through Age UK:
- sign up with your local branch for face-to-face meetings, see Age UK’s befriending services for details; or
- become a Telephone Friend for the Silver Liners, who call an older person once a week just to have a chat.
If you are a runner, have a look at GoodGym, a community of runners that gets that extra motivation to run regularily from visiting an older person once a week.
4) Dog walk or pet sit for an animal charity
If you want to do more for our furry friends, there are three places you can help with your time rather than your money. If your children would love a dog but you don’t have the space or can’t afford the expense, dog walking someone else’s dog could be a real treat for your kids as well as a blessing to the dog owner.
Cinnamon Trust organises help for elderly and terminally ill people with their pets:
A network of 15,000 volunteers “hold hands” with owners to provide vital loving care for their pets. We keep them together – for example, we’ll walk a dog every day for a housebound owner, we’ll foster pets when owners need hospital care, we’ll fetch the cat food, or even clean out the bird cage, etc.
The Blue Cross offers plenty of different ways you can help out, from being a pet foster carer, to volunteering at a rehoming centre.
The RSPCA website has dozens of options for those willing to help out. Use their handy geographical finder to see what is available in your area.
5) Volunteer at a charity shop or donate unwanted items
Volunteering in a shop can be a good way to support a number of your favourite charities, with names such as Oxfam, Scope and Cancer UK lining the high street with their charity shops. For example, British Heart Foundation has more than 560 stores around the country, and Barnardo’s has more than 700. Just a quick Google could help you find a charity shop local to you.
If you don’t want to volunteer in a shop, then just donating your unwanted items could help. Charity shops take a lot more than just clothes.
Or look for other places to volunteer. Here is the story of the 100 year old man who help out at his local foodbank!
6) Are you crafty?
If you’ve got the time and some creative flair, then lend your skills by knitting or sewing items for charity.
The charity Loving Hands knits everything from burial items for tiny babies to warm clothing for the homeless, and have a number of groups around the UK which you can join.
7) Get your hair cut!
If you’re getting long hair cut, consider the Little Princess Trust, which provides wigs to girls and boys throughout the UK and Ireland who have lost their own hair through illness or medical treatment.
Find out more about how you can donate your hair.