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Being charitable when money is tight

The term "charitable giving" is often associated with financial donations. But charity is not exclusive to donating dollars, and those who want to give back but can't fit donations into their budgets can explore various ways to make an impact without writing a check.

Volunteering

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 63 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015. Up north, the General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating from Statistics Canada found that more than four in 10 Canadians ages 15 and older volunteered to some degree in 2013.

Volunteering is a popular and rewarding way to give back to one's community. Nonprofits and charitable organizations may fall short of meeting their missions if not for the valuable services provided by volunteers, so pitching in can be just as valuable as writing a check. Discuss your personal and professional experience with an organization to find a volunteering opportunity that suits you and your skill set. In addition to charitable organizations, schools, hospitals, libraries, and religious institutions may have volunteering opportunities for those who want to give back.

Item donations

Donating time and money may be among the most popular ways to give back, but those are not the only ways to donate to organizations and people in need. Go through your closet and donate clothes you no longer wear. Instead of selling furniture you plan to replace, contact local charitable organizations to see if they would like your furniture, or donate pieces that they can then sell to finance their operations. Some donated items, such as vehicles, may earn donors tax deductions.

Medical donations

Donating money or dropping off canned goods at food banks may be the first things many people think of when mulling charitable donations, but medical donations also present a great way to give back. The American Red Cross notes that blood donations help millions of people and a single blood donation can end up helping more than one person. The Red Cross also notes that roughly 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed in the United States alone each day, while nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily. Donating blood, plasma or platelets can help save lives, and making such donations does not require substantial commitments of time.

Organ donations also present a great way to give back. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that an average of 22 people die each day waiting for transplants that cannot take place because of the shortage of organ donors. Many of those deaths may not happen if more people signed up to be organ donors, an act that may be as simple as checking a box on the back of your driver's license.

Charitable men and women without much room in their budgets to make donations can still make a difference by giving back in other ways.