How to Make a Difference When You Can’t Volunteer

On October 22, millions of Americans will join volunteer projects across the country for Make a Difference Day. Will you be one of them? Volunteering and becoming active in your community is a great way to give back and provide assistance to others. Participating in Make a Difference Day makes it easy to get involved, and it’ll probably inspire you to continue volunteering your time for worthy causes.


But what if you can’t volunteer? Maybe you don’t have the time, or you want to contribute to an organization on the other side of the world. What then? Fortunately, all you need is a bit of cash and a commitment to help.

Often the best (and easiest!) way to make a difference is to donate money.

Monetary donations can be helpful to organizations in ways that volunteering or material donations can’t. They can help exactly where it’s needed, strengthen the local economy, and provide organizations flexibility when necessary.


Donations Give Communities Exactly What They Need

Sometimes the best gift you can offer a community isn’t your time or your gently used clothing, but your money. By donating directly to aid organizations, you allow them to provide exactly what community members need in the most efficient way possible.

If a child doesn’t have enough to eat, your donated blanket or pencil box isn’t going to solve the problem. Despite your good intentions, you may not know what the community needs most unless you’re there on the ground. So why not let a local organization make the decision for you?

By donating money instead of specific items, you’re giving the organization and the community the ability to decide what’s best for them. Whether it’s extra meals, notebooks for school, or tuition scholarships, monetary donations can pinpoint a need and fill it directly.


Donating Money Supports the Local Economy

Allowing organizations to buy supplies directly has other benefits, too. Local purchases help sustain communities by supporting small-business owners and farmers. Think about it: by allowing a nonprofit to locally purchase products, your donation goes twice as far by keeping the money in the community you’re trying to help. You also save money on shipping costs!

Of course, in some cases, sending goods instead of money makes the most sense. Sometimes it’s impossible to find necessary items locally, or the cost is prohibitive. If you think this might be the case, contact the organization directly. They’re familiar with the community and can advise on the most cost-effective way to get goods to their intended recipients.


Money Allows Organizations to Determine Priorities & Be Flexible

Local organizations are also well-positioned to assist during emergencies, and monetary donations make it easier for them to respond in times of crisis. They’re already on the ground and have personal relationships with the community.

When big changes occur, they can re-direct funds from existing projects and focus on new priorities. An educational organization may usually spend donations on scholarships, but after a natural disaster, those funds could be diverted to offer shelter to homeless students.

By donating money, you give nonprofits the flexibility to use those funds where they’re needed most.


So what are you waiting for? Donating money is easy, and you can give as much or as little as you’d like.

Remember the GoAbroad Foundation’s New Year’s Challenge? If you haven’t taken action yet, there’s still time to get started!

Give your time on October 22 during Make A Difference Day or donate to the GoAbroad Foundation right now. Find other reliable, effective organizations that are doing work that interests you and send them some love, too.

There are so many ways to make a difference. Whether you fundraise by selling your artwork, spend time doing community outreach, or simply commit to sending $10 a month to your favorite nonprofit, you’re doing your part to make the world a better place. There’s no better time to get started than right now!

This blog was contributed by Alisa Tank:

Alisa Tank HeadshotAlisa is a writer with a passion for promoting meaningful travel. She has worked in the field of international education since 2006 and holds a Master’s degree in International Public Service from DePaul University. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and enjoys rock climbing and hiking.