In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama suggested that the United States economy is finally on the upswing. But while that may be true, the reality is that money is still tight for many families.
At the same time, though, there are numerous nonprofits and charitable organizations that are feeling the pinch, too, and need more support than ever. It may be difficult for individuals to write a large donation check to the causes closest to their hearts, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other, non-monetary ways to give back. And those methods are just as valuable.
The Bible says that we are to help those in need, remembering that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Here are some great ways to do so without ever pulling out your wallet.
Be Social: A strong social media presence is like gold in today's internet economy, and helping your favorite charity to expand its online presence is an easy way to give back. When you help share a nonprofit's mission by Liking it on Facebook, or Following and Retweeting it on Twitter, you make it easier for the organization to raise money and attract even more support.
Clip Coupons: With shows like TLC's Extreme Couponing shedding light on how much money people can actually save on their grocery bills by cutting out a few (or more!) small slips of paper, more and more shoppers have been heading to the market, coupons in hand. And, now, you can help others while you save. CouponsforChange.org is a new site that empowers consumers to make a difference in the lives of others, simply by using coupons for everyday grocery and household items. For every three coupons downloaded from the site, Coupons for Change will provide a meal to a child at risk through Feeding America.
Stock Up on Toiletries: After you clip your coupons and pick up those tubes of toothpaste for $.15, consider buying a few extra to donate to local charities. Tracy Lewis, founder of Mercy and Grace Ministries in Hattiesburg, Miss., helps people coming out of transitional housing and struggling single mothers. "One of the things that I try to do is round up household items," says Lewis. "I especially look for things that food stamps won't buy, such as paper products, cleaning supplies, feminine products, soap, toothpaste, etc., so that when a need arises, I can help."
Get Fit: Organizations like Team World Vision allow individuals to raise money for worthy causes while also working toward their own fitness goals. "Team World Vision empowers groups and individuals to dedicate their sports and fitness goals to helping World Vision's work in Africa," reads an official statement. "Participants select the activity of their choice, and then register online at www.teamworldvision.org where they access instructions for designing a fundraising web page, get tips and templates for fundraising and get information about how the funds will be used. Next, they email their fundraising page link to friends, family and colleagues, inviting them to make a donation. Donations are securely transacted online, and participants can view a list of their supporters and their messages, as well as their fundraising totals."