You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Be a Philanthropist—Here’s Why


If everyone waited to give to charity until their finances were perfect, nothing would happen. Sure, it would be nice if you could give a million-pound donation to the organization of your choice every year.

And you’ll get there someday if that’s a goal you have and chase. But for now – how are you supposed to balance a budget and give to those hard-working organizations?

If you want to be a philanthropist, you have to change the way you think.

Want to learn more about how to be a philanthropist when your purse strings are tight? Get ideas and inspiration below.


Change Your Mindset

We think about philanthropists as people who give a large portion of money selflessly. But it’s not that selfless. Not that the organizations don’t appreciate their donations, but they’re also getting a huge tax break.

The more you donate, the fewer taxes you have to pay when you have a high income.

All that to say, you’re not selfish because you don’t give as much or more than your means. If you have the intention to give and be generous with your money, you’re already a philanthropist.

Once you think of yourself as a philanthropist, you’ll stop questioning yourself and you can get to give. How? Keep reading!


How Much is Enough?

Even a one pound donation can help someone that needs it. On Oprah’s website, she lists a number of donations that are under 25 pounds and what they mean to the organization.


One Pound Donation

For example, do you have one pound? If you donate it to Books for Africa you can ship two books to a classroom in Africa. The books in those classrooms are well-loved, according to Oprah, 20 children will share one book.

So adding two more books to their classroom can change that into 8 kids per book, with just one pound!

Have a little more to give? Like what you spend at Starbucks (or your local coffee shop, hopefully)?


Four Pounds

Four pounds can pay for two hours of phone time to help an American armed service member speak with their family. Think about how much can be said in two hours over the phone.

That means a family can keep their loved one on the line while they open Christmas presents or even for the delivery of their child that they’re missing.

Missing that fancy latte sounds worth it, doesn’t it?


Ten Pound Donation

Feel like giving up two lattes? Donating ten pounds can help babies in need. Via Operation Smile, donating ten bucks can buy two specialized feeding bottles.

In rural and low-income places, babies with cleft palettes can die of malnutrition because they can’t eat like other babies. Giving them these special bottles gives them a chance while they’re waiting for surgery.

In essence, donating ten pounds can save two lives. It feeds two children who may not have a chance without those bottles. Living a full life vs. dying in infancy?

That’s a great return on investment!


50 Pound Donation

Let’s say you have a little more to give, like fifty pounds. What can that do for the needy? Well, at some food banks, fifty is enough for meals for 150 families.

And it provides even more meals in places overseas where food is cheaper or there are already global aid food donations.


A C-Note

Got a spare hundred you can donate? You could feed three hundred families, or you could donate to Doctors Without Borders.

With 100 pounds the medical charity can provide twenty-four blankets for the medically needy. That cost also covers three first aid kits and ten pairs of surgical scissors.

A band-aid doesn’t sound like much to us, but for a child who has no other access to medication – it’s the difference between life and a life-threatening infection.


Types of Donations

Running a non-profit is a balancing act. Most of their funding comes from private donors or government grants. That means they have to spread out a sum of money over a very long time.


Monthly Donations

One way to help them keep providing services without going crazy trying to budget is to give consistent donations.

This can be as little as $5 or $10 a month. That doesn’t sound like much – it comes out to $60 or $120 a year. But if you look at the section above, that’s that many more services they can provide a month.



There’s a site, called Kiva, that gives microloans to business owners and hopefully all over the world.

And these aren’t donations you’ll never see again. They’re loans with a, get this, 96% repayment rate. That’s something any financial advisor would advise.

And your money goes to good use. For example, Phyllis from Kenya is trying to buy seeds for her tea farm because her current supply isn’t meeting demand.

You can lend as little as $5 or $25. The site works a little bit like CrowdFund Me (minus the icky fees). If a loan doesn’t get fully funded, the person doesn’t get any money.

If you want your dollars to do the most work, check out their 11th-hour page – which are loans about to expire if they don’t finish their monetary goal.

And you’re not just giving money. To most of the people on Kiva, you’re giving them hope and showing them you believe in their business.

And you get your money back, so you can reinvest in someone else. What could be cooler than that?


Non-Monetary Donations

Now that you understand that a little really goes a far way, let’s talk about non-monetary donations.

There are plenty of organizations who could use hands or extra energy that you have to give. Donating your time is free and you can calculate the tax write off here if you’d like.


Donating Time and Energy

Just a few hours out of your afternoon and evening could be enough to make a difference. Donating your time at your local homeless shelter or food kitchen has a big impact.

If you go and spend a few hours cooking and serving, that frees up staff to do things they’ve been putting off or haven’t had time for.

You don’t have to be a master chef, either. Most of the meals they serve are simple and the most complex thing you’ll have to do is chop vegetables. Kids (ten and over usually) can help too.

A true philanthropist teaches their children the value of giving early on.


Donating Skill

Cooking dinner and serving doesn’t take any specific skills – but what about the skills you do have?

What can you do that makes you special? Maybe you’re a carpenter or you’re a graphic designer. Reach out to an organization that means a lot to you and ask if they can use your skillset.

You never know what an organization needs. Maybe you can help them revamp their website so people can donate online. When you run a non-profit, there’s very little wiggle room in the budget.

Hiring a web designer, in this case, could mean they don’t serve two individuals they could have served if they didn’t need a new website.

Even if they don’t have a project for you and your skillset now, they may have one in the future. Ask them to keep your name and information on file in case something comes up. You never know when someone will need you!


Serve on the Board

It seems successful and rich people are always on this board or that board – but that’s just the publicity they get. You don’t have to be rich and famous to serve on a non-profit board.

Many non-profits are looking for business minds or creative thinkers to serve on their boards. Your job, on the board, is at most a few meetings a month.

This is an especially good use of your time if you’re well connected in the area you live in. This way if the organization does have a need, you know specific people they can ask.

When the annual or bi-annual fundraising even comes up – board members usually need to pitch in more time and energy, so plan for that.


Yes, You’re a Philanthropist

Are you ready to open your wallet now or open your calendar and start giving? If you think hard and creatively, there’s always a way you can help people in need.

And doesn’t it seem like a philanthropist always gets back as much as they give? Whether that’s through emotional fulfilment or positive karma – it’s hard to regret generosity.

Want to learn how to make more so you can give more? Invest in yourself and in future charities with our training.