When you don’t have anything to give

I’m sure you’re tired of reading about the pandemic, but there’s no denying it has changed many things about how we operate, what we value, and the ways we engage with each other. When our incomes are unstable, the future economy is unknown, and there is so much need, it can feel impossible to give back anything at all.

I understand that feeling all too well. I can vividly remember having the lights shut off as a kid. I remember the town coming to warn us the water would be shut off. I remember the cost of another poster board for school feeling overwhelming. I also remember putting an envelope in the offering plate every Sunday. I mention this not for pity, but rather to say that these struggles we are facing currently are nothing new for a lot of people.

What may surprise you is that those financially struggling have been the most charitable demographic in the country. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have anything significant to give when you have less than before, but when you don’t have much it’s also easy to see how far a little bit can go.

I’m not a fan of the analogy of the “cost of a cup of coffee” reference, because not everyone is regularly spending $5 on coffee. With that said, if you don’t have the $5 you used to give to your favorite charity, but have $1 to give, please keep giving it. I can’t tell you how much the nonprofit sector feels gratitude for gifts and how little we judge what you have given in the past versus what you’re giving now.

If you don’t have a $1 to donate, maybe you have 30 minutes to make some phone calls or stuff some envelopes for that charity. If you don’t have 30 minutes, maybe you have 30 seconds to share their latest Facebook post. What we often forget about these actions is that they have a cumulative effect. Can your $1 keep the doors open? No. But your $1, your neighbor’s $3, the $5 dollars from down the street, and the $6 from around the corner can pay for the agency’s Zoom subscription for the month.

Your 30 minutes of thank you calls can help secure funding from existing donors to the organization. Your Facebook share can introduce someone to a charity they have never heard of before. We all have something to give, whether time, talent, or treasure. Regardless of how small you may feel your contribution is, it all adds up to big impact.

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