giving back on a budget

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Listening to:Wish I Knew You – The Revivalists

I am so saddened by the state of the world these days, and I want to help but I don’t really know how. I don’t have the influence or authority to effect real change, and I don’t have millions to donate to important causes. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do something, and I figure if everyone pitches in where and how they can, collectively, we might be able to make a difference.

Here are some things you can do to give back on a budget:

1. Donate your stuff to people who need it more
Round up the stuff you don’t use, don’t like, or don’t need, and then donate it. Check out my post on how to get rid of sh*t and then look up some local organizations accepting donations of various kinds. I recently dropped off several bags of stuff (duplicate kitchen tools, clothes, extension cords) to the Women in Need Society here in Calgary – they accept home goods and clothing. The Drop-In Centre accepts personal care items and clothing.

2. Make a night of it
There are hundreds of charity events that take place in Calgary throughout the year. Pick a cause, pick a party and put your beer money to better use. I’m working with ReThink Breast Cancer for their upcoming Boobyball fundraising gala (the Calgary event is on October 14 at Hotel Arts). Tickets are $110 and include food and drink. Instead of spending $110 on cheap beer and sticky floors, give that money to a good cause, get dressed up in 90s wear, and get excited about the throwback DJ sets and gift bags.

3. Recycle your old cell phones for the gorillas
For real. I was recently at the Calgary Zoo for a team-building day (highly recommend) and learned that they have a robust cell phone recycling program. A mineral called coltan is used to coat electronic components in all cell phones. Coltan is mined in areas where gorillas live, so by recycling your phone, you are helping reduce the amount of coltan that needs to be mined, which can help preserve natural gorilla habitat. All you have to do is bring your old cell phone to the zoo and drop it off at guest services. And then go see the gorillas because lil baby Kimani is actually the cutest.

4. Give your time
Many non-profit organizations and charities need manpower just as much as they need cash or goods. If there is a cause close to your heart, take a look at the charity’s webpage to see what kind of help they need. If you aren’t sure which cause you’d like to support, get a ticket to an event like Timeraiser. Timeraiser brings together organizations that need volunteer hours with people who have hours to give. Attend the event, browse the participating organizations, and then bid hours of your time. And then receive a piece of art in exchange for your time! It’s a fun event with a bunch of deserving organizations and like-minded individuals looking to give back. There are Timeraiser events happening in 10 Canadian cities this year – check them out here.

5. Give a little comfort and joy
It doesn’t take millions to brighten someone’s day. The Mustard Seed hosts Thanksgiving dinner for poor and homeless Calgarians and their families. A gift of $3.51 buys Thanksgiving dinner for one person, and one $20 donation buys dinner for a family of five. That’s a very small price to make someone’s holiday special.

6. Check yourself
Do a quick scan of what you’re putting out into the world. Take a look at my post from a couple weeks ago on how I’m re-evaluating my karmic contribution to society.

How do you give back? I would love to learn about new programs and organizations that need support or that facilitate volunteer hours or donations. I’d like to do another post like this closer to Christmas, so leave me a comment with your ideas!


  1. This really opened my mind. With all the stuff happening in the world today including the hurricanes, I’ve always thought how terrible it was but how I couldn’t help out because I’m fresh out of college and barely making enough money to live off of, but you definitely opened my mind on other ways to help. Love the blog post this was very inspiring!

  2. I really love this post girlie. It is so important to reconsider how to give back / help the world without money. Giving time and recycling your things is just as important. This post really inspires me thank you!!

  3. I love giving back to my community, I also don’t have a large budget, so unfortunately I can’t donate my money frequently, but I’ve met some amazing people through volunteering and I love it.

  4. Awesome post! I had no idea about the gorillas 🙁 Typically I give back by donating to campaigns on GoFundMe, donating my clothes to goodwill, etc. but you listed a lot of options; some I didn’t know about. Thank you! Xo

  5. I love the ideas you came up with! It’s so easy to come up with excuses for why we don’t give back to our community, but giving a little bit of your time and heart can make such a huge impact in someone’s life!

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