07/21/2016 09:41 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 09:59 EDT

The Cash-strapped Guide To Charity Giving

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detail of young woman showing her empty pockets


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It's me again, your friendly neighbourhood broke girl. I felt guilty even typing that, because I am blessed to have an incredible job, and more than I (should) need.

But when your husband lives almost 7,000 kilometres away, "more than I need" is quickly eaten up by flight costs, and legal fees to bring him here to Canada. Not to mention the pretty high living costs that come with residing in Canada's biggest city.

So even though I have more than I need, I struggle with making space in my budget for helping the most vulnerable. Maybe you're experiencing similar budget issues. I know from talking to friends that many of them are in the same boat, so I did a little brainstorming.

How can we help others when our own purse strings are stretched thin?

  1. Give your time: Working at World Vision, I've seen how our greatest resource is the people who give their time to help us do what we do. Volunteers with World Vision do office tasks like working with Excel, and help at huge concert events to get kids sponsored. Their time means that we can help more communities, and their dedication has inspired me to volunteer when I can too! Volunteering has reignited my commitment to make a difference in the world, and when personal finances are tough, that gives me a boost that no amount of money can buy. Plus, if you are currently job-hunting, I know for a fact that the first people NGOs look to when they're hiring are their faithful volunteers.
  2. Spread the word: People want to help. It's that simple. Human generosity is incredible, and often all it takes is someone telling a friend about a cause they're passionate about to make a huge difference. My friend Amanda told me she told her soccer team about an initiative to get soccer balls to kids in developing communities overseas. Her whole team jumped on board, and many of them have now donated. Never underestimate how much power your voice can have, even if it's a simple Facebook post.
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    Kids at this girls' school in Guatemala love having a soccer ball to kick around. Photo/World Vision

  4. Join forces: Many of your friends are likely in the same boat as you, and that's where the power of the group comes in. Maybe you can't sponsor a child on your own, or even make a $25 water pledge, but together, you might be able to pool your resources and change the life of a community. Sponsor or donate together, and see the change that your teamwork can bring.
  5. Small things with great love: Mother Teresa was right. Even small gifts can bring incredible joy, especially to a child in need. School supplies are often hard for a struggling family to afford, and the lack of them can keep kids from learning. A simple $10 gives a child those tools. If you want to up the ante, donate $30 and provide textbooks for kids in need. The help you give will multiply in value, and keep kids on the path to a successful future.
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    In Rwanda, Sandrine (right) and her friend have math books to work in and pencils to write with, thanks to donors overseas. Photo/World Vision

  7. Help, don't hurt: I know what it's like to get to the end of the month and have nothing left in the bank. But for the money I do spend -- on necessary food, clothes, etc. -- I try my best to make sure that I am helping, not hurting. Look for symbols like Fair Trade, Rainforest Certified, and Sustainable Fisheries when you shop for essential items and groceries. It makes a big difference when those who are growing and producing to meet your needs have a living wage, and that their communities are not depleted of natural resources.

With a little ingenuity, even our most difficult financial moments shouldn't hinder us from giving of ourselves. Taking a moment to set aside our own situations and do something good for others reminds us that we all go through difficult times, and we all have something to offer each other. The knowledge that I'm not alone in this is one of the greatest rewards to helping out.

So what are some ways that you contribute to the world and to your community? We'd love to hear from you!

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