3 ways to give back that don’t require a financial investment


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The desire to help each other is a deeply human need, and now more than ever this help is needed more than ever. Even so, many people directly affected by the current health / economic crisis are unable to give financially. The need may be great, but everyone should also take care of their own family. With tens of millions unemployed and layoffs continuing at an all-time high, no one really knows what the future holds.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

The good news is that all help doesn’t have to be financial, and there are plenty of ways to give back without opening your checkbook or withdrawing your credit card. Here are three ways to give yourself even when finances are tight.

1. Give your time

With unemployment at record highs and millions of people sheltered in place, time has become a commodity. If you want to give of yourself and help those in need, volunteering your time is a wonderful and sincere choice. If you have specific expertise, go out of your way to provide practical advice to your clients or others in your industry, giving them the tools they need to survive and come out stronger on the other side.

You can provide the same valuable advice and guidance to local businesses struggling to survive in an era of forced shutdowns and rapidly changing business models. Working with suppliers is another way to give back, helping these organizations adapt their supply chains and find their own ways to help the community.

Now that face-to-face meetings are banned, you can host webinars to stay in touch and share your expertise with your customers, local businesses, vendors, peers, and more. If you prefer an auditory format, podcasts are a great way to connect and communicate during the current pandemic. You can create guest spots on popular podcasts or create your own custom broadcast.

Related: 4 ways entrepreneurs can support their clients and their community during testing

2. Give your clutter

The need for housewares and tangible products has never been greater. With so many people out of work and struggling to make ends meet, even a small purchase could be out of reach.

If you’ve been decluttering while sheltering in your home, like many of us, why not donate your finds to local charities? Start by going through your wardrobe and pick out the clothes you no longer wear; you might not need it, but someone else will definitely need it. You can also donate your old furniture and household items, as well as excess inventory from your pantry. Local charities and food banks will be happy to accept your generosity.

3. Be a caring Good Samaritan

Now that we are all alone together, we need to take care of each other. The loneliness and lack of purpose are already deeply felt, and many mental health experts expect suicide and depression rates to increase dramatically as the shutdown progresses. If you want to do something right, something as simple as a smile or a phone call can go a long way. Now is the time to check in on your elderly neighbors, call coworkers you haven’t seen since the shutdown, and reach out to those in need.

It’s also a time to thank those on the front lines, from the doctors and nurses who care for the sick to the essential workers who supply local grocery stores and retail businesses. When you venture out to stock up on essentials, take a minute to express your gratitude and thank these men and women for their time and service.

Or, the next time you have your groceries delivered or order pizza, do all you can to thank the delivery driver. You can express your heartfelt gratitude from six feet away, and your kindness could help make someone else’s day (rhyme intentional).

Many people have left their lights on in honor of first responders and medical staff, and you can join in this outward show of gratitude. You can also take more aggressive action, such as giving out take-out meals to hospital workers.

Related: 9 billionaires who escalate during the pandemic

As a business owner, you can give back your way, donating products with every order. If your essential business sells coffee, for example, you can offer to donate one bag for every bag ordered online or picked up from the curb. Even if you don’t have your own business, you can still choose to sponsor businesses that run such return programs. If your favorite restaurant has been forced to close, buying gift cards now can keep them afloat and give you a delicious treat once the dining room reopens.

In this new world, giving back is more important than ever, and you can find ways to help those around you, even if your own finances are low. You can make an impact.

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