God loves a cheerful giver. The Bible says so! Yet for many of us, with the economy taking what little extra money we have, giving generously is just a dream. But wait... There is another promise to consider: Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped. Proverbs 11:25 (NCV)
In both temporal and spiritual issues, God tends to supply us with things in proportion to what we give others. We are equipped with our possessions so we can help those less fortunate and show the love of God through this generosity. But who says being generous has to cost a lot of money? Here are a dozen ideas about how to give generously without breaking your checkbook:
1. Volunteer your time to meet a need in your community’s food pantry or outreach to those in need. Here in SW Florida, we have “Meals on Wheels” which provides nutritious meals at very low cost. Meals are delivered by local volunteers who interact with the people they visit. This is often more important than the food they carry! Check your local papers and ask around for similar programs in your area.
2. Make something to donate to a fund raiser in your area. I create stained glass pieces for local events, but you might be a baker or a gardener. Whatever your hobby, it can be turned into a donation to be used by local outreach groups when they hold auctions or give door prizes.
3. Put the change from your purchase into one of those charity jars at the checkout counter. (You should be sure a reputable group is sponsoring the collection, though.)
4. Take an afternoon off and wash your neighbor’s car or clean his house windows. The cost of materials will be very small, but the impact will be huge.
5. Share something you appreciate about someone with a mutual friend or acquaintance. Be specific, or just brag about them a bit.
6. Save your pocket change for a month or so and give the money you collect to a local outreach organization or your church’s mission outreach program.
7. Gather up your still good but no longer used “stuff” and donate it to a local re-sell charity that helps others. We like to donate to the Humane Society store in our town, but you probably have a favorite of your own. This idea is one that would be great for kids, too. Teach them early to appreciate what they have and help them understand that many others have a lot less. Help them gather up toys they have outgrown and give them to a charity.
8. Make sandwiches and buy a bottle of water, then give them to a homeless person. Cost is low, but it says something important to the recipient. (Also ensures they don’t spend your money the wrong way, as sometimes happens when you give cash.)
9. Take time to hand write a letter to an old friend – maybe one you haven’t seen in a long time. Thank them for being such a good friend. (This is a great idea for a spouse or child, too!)
10. Set aside one day a month to visit a nursing home or assisted living facility. I did this when my daughter was 2 and the people living there looked forward to seeing her every time. We sometimes took books or cards to those who were able to read or play games.
11. Click on sites like http://www.ripple.org/ and http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1 which provide food, water and other needs to less fortunate folks. Buying something from their site gives even more, but just clicking works, too. I also do my online searches through http://www.goodsearch.com/, which donates a small amount to the charity of your choice when you use the site.
12. Donate your long hair to “Locks of Love,” an organization that makes wonderful wigs for sick children. Check them out here: https://locksoflove.org/get-involved/
The more you practice generosity, the more it will become natural. Come up with creative ways to reach out to those around you who have needs, then make plans to meet those needs– with your time and talents as well as your money– as you are able! You’ll be glad you did.