Giving time instead of money

I’ve written before about how much we love public radio. Our local NPR affiliate is our favorite radio station on the dial, and we’ve gotten hours of free entertainment from it.

As you probably know, most media outlets are struggling due to the recession. As a former journalist, I really value newspapers and other media outlets, but I think public radio is especially important. Not only is it entertaining, but public radio offers in depth reporting on real human interest stories that aren’t often covered on the 24-hour news networks.

Public radio stations have been hit especially hard. Part of the reason their reporting is so great is because donors and sponsors cover much of their operating costs. This model allows them to be free of advertisers who often play a bigger role in dictating editorial content for TV and newspapers than they should. But donors and businesses have cut back funding for public radio because of the recession, leading public radio stations to lay off workers and cut valuable programming.

I realize there are more dire charities than public radio, but it’s just something that I feel is important. I wish we had enough money to give large amounts to all of the causes we care about. The reality is, like a lot of people right now, we don’t.

Living frugally allows us to donate a little, and we do. We’ve sent money to our local public radio station, mostly because we felt we should do our part since we’ve gotten so much free entertainment. We also donate to charities like the American Cancer Society and Ronald McDonald House when we can. But when we send a little money to any charity or cause, we’re often left wishing we could do more.

We’ve found that the best solution is to give time instead of money. For instance, we found out that our local public radio station is holding a pledge drive this month, and they need volunteers to answer phones and take donations. We may not have a lot of money to give, but volunteering is an easy way for us to help a cause that we care about without affecting our budget.

If you’re wishing you could afford to give more to your favorite causes, do some digging to find out if there’s a way you can donate time instead of money. Participate in a walk or run for cancer research, coordinate a fundraiser or donation drive in your area, walk dogs at a local shelter, or volunteer at a charitable foundation.

You may not be able to afford a huge donation, but if you can still make a difference.

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