Some of the most charitable givers are the ones with the tightest budgets.
The Bible teaches this lesson with the widow who gives her two coins while others are donating far bigger sums. Yet the widow's gift is the greatest because she had the least money. She gave all she had.
Likewise, we often hear on the news of people who live frugal lives and seem poor, but they've carefully squirreled away their money. When they die, they bequest their carefully saved fortune to a charity they've chosen.
If you have a very tight income, but you want to donate to those less fortunate than yourself, especially children who may be hungry and suffering, you can do so without breaking the budget.
While there are plenty of options to sponsor a child, most of these sponsorships come with an unwritten obligation to continue to sponsor the child until he or she is grown. True, the monthly amount is usually fairly small, around $35, but if your budget is bare bones, $35 is quite a bit of money.
If you don't feel you can make the monthly commitment, there are plenty of other ways to help children in need.
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1. Look close to home.
There are probably plenty of kids in your own area who are in need, but you don't have to donate money to make a difference.
You could donate your time with a group like Big Brothers Big Sisters. To volunteer with a child, you'd need to commit to a few hours at a time, a couple of times a month. By signing up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister, you're also making a long-term commitment.
2. Give a one-time charitable gift.
This option is especially prevalent at Christmas. Find an organization that helps kids in need and make a one-time donation. This is fairly easy to do; the post office as well as some stores have Christmas trees decorated with a child's wish item. Every year we pick one of those tags off the tree, and my kids and I go shopping. Last year we purchased a new pair of boots for a teenage girl. (Perhaps it's just my bias, but I always choose kids who have needs such as a new pair of boots versus the kids who ask for an Xbox or an iPad.)
3. Gift a local family in need.
If you know a family that is struggling, why not make them a basket filled with food and toiletries?
If they'd be too proud to accept, ring their doorbell, leave the package on the front step, and getaway before they see you. Then they have no choice but to take it.
4. Make a limited donation.
If you are interested in sponsoring a child but don't feel you can commit to years of donations, call the organization and ask if you can sponsor a child for a year. While this isn't listed as an option when you sign up to donate, some organizations will let you do this.
After all, some money for a child in need is better than no money.
Giving is important. I'm a firm believer that in almost any financial situation, you can, and should, find money to give. Most of us have enough money to cover our basic needs, even if we're living a fairly Spartan lifestyle. Perhaps you can't afford a regular, recurring obligation, but there are plenty of ways to give on a limited basis or to offer your time to help someone younger than you find his or her way in the world.
What's your favorite way to give on a limited budget?