10 Meaningful Ways To Be More Philanthropic (Even When You're Not Loaded)

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10 Low-Cost Ways To Be A Philanthropist By Giving Back To The Community & Making Donations To Charity
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Being able to make donations to charity is considered one of the most satisfying aspects of having money. But you can still be a philanthropist, even if you're tight on funds.

Giving back to the community and making charitable contributions is what the spirit of philanthropy is all about. As the world’s sixth-wealthiest female billionaire and mega-philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs puts it, “To leave a mark — in a way that you think is important and lasting — that's a life well-lived.”

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So even if you can't afford to donate to your favorite nonprofits or charities regularly, you can still find meaningful ways to give back and become more philanthropic ... on a budget.

Here are 10 low-cost, meaningful ways to be a philanthropist, even if you're not loaded.

1. Give your time and mentorship.

Pay it forward like Oprah by inspiring and helping other women. Sadly, only 54 percent of women have access to senior leaders who act as mentors, so be charitable by mentoring a rising female star in your industry so she can really soar.

You can also give your expertise to your favorite cause by serving on the board.

2. Don’t (necessarily) start your own non-profit.

Seriously. I know it seems glam, but if your end goal is being helpful to those in need, think again. There are 1.5 million U.S. nonprofits already in existence and they're in nearly every area. The problem is this: Each nonprofit spends a chunk on their own administration.

Think: If twenty hunger-fighting nonprofits merged, they could pay just one administrative group instead of 20 — and then the rest of the money could be used to fight hunger directly. So find a nonprofit already helping your cause and give to them.

3. Vote with your dollars.

These days, there are good and evil choices for just about all of our buying decisions.

A great way to do good every day is making the most planet-friendly, worker-friendly, whatever-you-care-about-friendly decisions when doing what you do, from drinking beer to shopping to vacation planning.

4. Influence the men in your lives to give.

On average, women make less money than their male peers, but you still have a big influence on household spending — from home goods to philanthropy. Making philanthropy a key part of your relationships with your partners is critical, and millennial women are doing it en masse, according to a survey conducted by Fidelity Charitable. So, talk with your significant others, friends and family about making philanthropy moves.

Bonus points: Give the big spenders in your life the opportunity to sponsor a table for a charity gala.

5. Focus on a few.

The same Fidelity Charitable survey found that fifty-five percent of millennial women support a wide variety of causes — which isn’t actually the most effective method of giving back. Due to fees-per-donation and other admin costs, giving $1,000 to one organization goes much further than giving $200 to five different ones.

If you have trouble choosing, pick a charity that works on lots of issues, like the Global Fund for Women or the America Civil Liberties Union.

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6. Be strategic, not just spontaneous.

Millennial women tend to give spontaneously — as in donating a dollar on-the-spot at the checkout register or giving to a GoFundMe campaign when it flashes across Instagram.

Keep doing that, but just don’t let those one-off donations make you feel like a good philanthropist who can stop giving. Instead, pick one to two organizations you really want to support, save up, and donate big and proud.

7. Set a target, and achieve it in your sleep.

Decide how much to give annually, and set up a separate bank account with automatic transfers each month. According to several of the largest charitable foundations, the average giver donates 3-5 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Not sure which type of bank account to use for your savings? Radius Bank’s "superhero checking account" is wonderful and supports the March of Dimes’ mission to lead the fight for the health of all moms and babies.

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Through everyday spending, one percent of your total purchases each month will be donated to March of Dimes. Your donation helps advocate for policies that prioritize the health of moms and babies and provide resources and programs for moms before, during and after pregnancy.

And as if that isn’t enough, you’ll also earn 0.50 percent APY2 on balances of $2,500 or more! All interest earned will be matched by Radius and donated to March of Dimes.

8. Give — like a woman.

Women are more likely to give to charity — and to give more — than men in similar financial situations. And it’s truer today than ever before: Since the 2016 election, women’s giving to progressive causes has outpaced men’s dramatically.

P.S. Let's all keep fighting for those higher salaries so we can give even more!

9. Donate — like a black philanthropist.

African-American households at all income levels give 25 percent more than their same-income peers of other races. And, more African American households donate — nearly two-thirds compared with 55 percent of all American households. For inspiration, check out Black Philanthropy Month.

10. Consult a tax expert.

The new tax codes make it harder to get tax breaks (unless you’re giving a lot). Ask your accountant for tips on charitable deductions, such as "bunching" a.k.a. saving for a few years and then donating one large sum to get the tax break. But research shows that most people give because it feels good, not for the tax break, so open your heart and your pocketbook and make it happen, either way.

And just in case you need a little more inspiration, here’s a final thought from mega-star and major philanthropist, Beyoncé's Twitter account: “We’re all in this together. Each and every one of us can make a difference by giving back.”

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Emily Howe is a senior executive consultant with a special focus on helping ambitious millennial women advance their careers and helping businesses reduce gender bias. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Money and Mimosas. Reprinted with permission from the author.