Giving Back

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Give back without going broke

Nonprofit organizations often depend on financial donations to stay afloat. Donations can be used to fulfill a mission statement, pay staff or raise awareness of events sponsored by the organization.

Though financial donations are how many people support causes near and dear to their hearts, such gifts are not affordable for everyone. But prospective donors who can't reach into their pocketbooks can still support worthy causes by giving back in other ways. The following are a handful of alternatives to financial donations for people who want to give back to their communities.

• Offer your services. Working professionals have their own unique skill sets, and organizations are always in need of people who can bring something unique to the table. Offering your services is different from traditional volunteering because volunteering projects typically do not require anything more than a willingness to pitch in on a project or lend a hand at an event. When offering your services, you are offering something more than a typical volunteer. For example, attorneys may be able to provide legal advice pro bono while contractors may be able to design projects instead of just pitching in when it comes time to turn those designs into something tangible. Offer your expertise and you will no doubt find numerous organizations ready to accept your offer.

• Donate your belongings. It may not seem like much on the surface, but donating old clothing or appliances can make a big difference to a local charity. Charities may be able to sell your donations to generate money, or they may put them to use serving the less fortunate. Find an organization that accepts such donations and, depending on how substantial your donations are, ask for a receipt so you can earn a tax deduction if you qualify.

• Coach or teach local youth. Another way to give back to the community is to volunteer to coach or teach your youngest neighbors. If you decide to coach, choose a sport you have experience with, especially if you decide you want to coach older children with more advanced skill sets. Adopt a similar approach if you decide to teach or tutor, choosing a subject, perhaps one that's affiliated with your profession, that you feel comfortable with.

• Create an internship. If you own your own business or work for a company that could use a helping hand, create an internship (or propose the idea to your employer and offer to oversee the program). Internships are often invaluable opportunities for high school and college students, so creating such a position can be a great way to give back to the young people in your community.

• Raise awareness of a good cause. Many nonprofit organizations sponsor community events in an effort to raise awareness for their causes. Such events may include a 5K, a walk for charity or a local vendor showcase where the entry fees go directly to the organization sponsoring the event. If you want to give back but can't afford to make a donation, then participate in such events. Races and charity walks often encourage participants to form teams made up of friends, family members and coworkers, so enlist the help of others and ask them to share their participation via social media so they raise awareness for a good cause.

Giving back does not have to break the bank. Charitable men and women who can't afford to cut a check can give back in other ways that can benefit their favorite charities just as much as financial donations.