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How to Help Others When You Have No Money

How to Help Others When You Have No Money?

Lend a helping hand

Lend a helping hand

Acts of Kindness are Priceless

When you think of helping others or of giving, do you immediately think that means you have to donate money?

There are other ways to contribute to the well-being of others that don't cost a cent. Many times, acts of kindness are more personal and worth far more to the recipients than a donation to your local charity. Sharing of yourself and your time can make a difference to someone who needs it, especially around holiday times.

So, come on folks. It costs you nothing but a little time to help someone in need . Heck, you may find you like practising random acts of kindness so much that you start doing them for people who aren't in need - just because it makes you feel good. Everybody benefits - there are no losers.

Here Are a Few Ideas About How to Help Others When You Have No Money

Some of these suggestions you've seen before and a few you may not have thought of. This list may even inspire you to come up with some new ways of helping others.

Article Marketing

I know a couple of people who are just getting started in new businesses and have little (no) operating capital. One is my youngest daughter, Lisa, and this sentence is her plug. If you are interested in the Galvanic Spa or any of the other incredible NuSkin products, just let me know.

Not being in a position to offer financial backing, I tried to think of other ways to help. Both of these entrepreneurs believe in what they're doing and they have my moral support but I wanted to do more, if I could. The only thing that I could think of was article marketing. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.

Of course, it doesn't have to be a friend or relative's business that you run an article marketing campaign for. It could be a cause or charity you believe in, too. Maintain their email list, write and/or send out their newsletter for them if they don't want articles. It doesn't matter as long as it's wanted and it helps.


When I wrote this section, I had Hubbers in mind, I think. You need to be able to write effectively for this idea to be a genuine help.


Naturally, you need to get permission to do this. If you can write reasonably well, you're not likely to get turned down. The most notable thing that I have run into is product/company legalities. My daughter's company has strict legal rules about what can and cannot be advertised and written about. If you run into something similar, just be sure of what you can and cannot do before beginning. Then, it's all good.

Yard Maintenance

This idea can be a family affair, which is a great way to instill in children the great feeling that comes from helping others. You can clean off cars or shovel snow and salt walkways in winter; mow the lawn in summer; rake leaves in autumn. There is almost always yard work that needs doing. Cleaning out the eaves trough, taking the garbage out or bringing the cans back in, weeding and watering.

Yard Maintenance is easy enough for able bodied people to do but for the elderly or ill, these tasks can seem monumentally impossible.


Usually, if you clear snow from someone's driveway, nobody cares if you ask first, they just love you. However, you may want to check in with the homeowner before doing some of the other types of tasks. Please put a little thought into this before going up and knocking on the door. Don't make the person feel like a charity case. Keep the tone light, tell them that since your doing yours (eaves, lawn, whatever), why don't you do theirs as well at the same time. Another consideration to keep in mind with the elderly - if they don't know what you're up to, you may scare them.


You may want to use your own tools rather than risk breaking the homeowner's and having to replace something. Also, don't assume that the homeowner's insurance is going to cover you if you injure yourself. That's not cricket. If you're volunteering (and especially if they didn't ask you) then don't expect to collect on their insurance. That's like suing somebody else for something you did and I will hunt you down. Don't get me started.

Reach Out

It costs nothing to call and just ask someone how they're doing. Your call may be the only one that they've received all week or all month. If you know someone who needs a shoulder, you can be that friend. If the other person has a computer, you can also email, send ecards and jokes. Anything to help them maintain human contact and lighten how they feel. Help them to laugh and feel that somebody cares. It costs zero dollars but is priceless.


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Sometimes when people have had no one to talk to in a while, it can be hard to get off the phone with them. Plan ahead of time to determine how long you have to chat and find a kind way to say good-bye that won't make them feel like you're dieing to get away from them.


The only one that I can think of is really in the considerations. With some folks, you need to be conscious of your boundaries. This usually is the case if they get clingy. You may however, be able to introduce them to others in their age and interest category to help alleviate both their loneliness and their dependency on you.

Offer Your Time for a Variety of Tasks

Babysit for parents who can't afford a sitter, write cards or letters for someone for whom that may be difficult, do some light housework or cook a meal if that's what's needed. These are the types of things people generally won't ask for help with regardless of badly they need it. It can be a real relief to them for someone to offer. Again, it doesn't have to cost anything but it is worth so much.


Similar to the yard maintenance, you can't just barge in and start scrubbing a toilet or baking. Come up with a diplomatic way that makes it easy for the other person to accept your generous offer without feeling like they're accepting charity. Many people have a really hard time accepting help if they think it's charity.


I would be careful not to make it so predictable that your help is expected a certain day every week or month UNLESS you want that. It's all just a matter of where you want your personal boundaries to be. Other than that, don't blow up the toilet or burn down their house.


If you're the type that prefers working with an organization over dealing with people one-on-one, then cavassing and fundraising may be perfect for you. Drumming up and collecting money for a worthy cause can be very satisfying and help a lot of people. You also have the added benefit of the social interactions that take place when working with an organized group.


Just make sure that you will have the necessary time and dedication available to put forth a sincere effort. If your heart isn't really in it, you diminish the contribution that you make. Other than that, have fun with it.


If you're canvassing door to door, make sure you're wearing really comfy shoes and clothing. Don't take it personally if some folks prefer not to donate to your cause.

Food Banks / Soup Kitchens / Missions

Lots of people are happy to help out in their local food banks and soup kitchens at Christmas time. That's wonderful but often these places could use some help at different times of the year, as well. Some cities also have breakfast programs for school kids. Some of the duties involve cooking, setting up, serving, cleaning up. Really, anything the organization needs help with is what you do.


Be sure that you can commit to the time your help is really required. In the case of the school breakfast program, you may be asked to show up each weekday morning for a semester or a school year. Regardless of where you're helping out, a smile and a few pleasantries are free and you should spread both as you go about your tasks and interact with the folks who came for assistance. It will uplift you and them.


Leave your judgements at home. If you don't realize you have any until you're there, keep them to yourself and deal with them afterwards when you're done your shift. If it is serious, you should probably give notice that you won't be back.

Shopping and Errands and Potential Lifesaving

These are tasks that many are in dire need of. Those who are unable to get out themselves and the elderly in the winter. If you incorporate picking up what they need into your weekly shopping trip, it needn't be an inconvenience for you. That also will help them to not feel like a burden to you.

I would like to mention under the heading of potential lifesaving, that if you can check that they have working heat, hot water and such, that would be wonderful. Older folks especially are loathe to ask for assistance and more than one has succumb to dangerous heat and cold. Often times, no one realizes that they are need.


If you know someone has a furnace problem (or similar type of situation) you can offer to call a professional. The trick may be if the people in question are unable to pay. In my opinion, the decent thing to do is make a few calls to see if there is an agency who can help or a furnace guy/plumber/whatever trademan who would be willing to donate their services and/or materials or set up a special low repayment plan. Please don't leave these people in the lurch without at least knowing where to turn.

If shopping or running errands is how you're doing your bit, check whether brand names or specific stores are an issue. It's not much of a help if the other person can't use it or doesn't want it.


You may encounter having to return the odd item if the person you're helping is persnickety. Just work it into your normal schedule as smoothly as you can. Other than that, the only caution I can think of is that of boundaries again - yours and theirs. How much help is too much for either party? Be helpful, don't take over their lives and don't let them overtake yours.

Helping Others

Almost Everyone Can Help Someone

When my mom lay on her deathbed last year, she never said good-bye to us. However, she left messages and a to-do list. One of the tasks she assigned my youngest sister was to notify the person in charge of the volunteer work that she did that she would be unable to do it anymore. Mom had been ill for several years and the last couple she had been bed or wheelchair ridden most of the time but she still sold lunch tickets and sent out notices of meetings to an email list.

A fatally ill woman in her seventies was helping people, so the rest of us can do it, too. It can make such a world of difference to someone.

Enjoy the feeling that comes from helping.


How to Help Others When You Have No Money?

Make a difference

Make a difference

Other Hubs About Helping Those In Need

  • Helping Others in Need
    How can the act of helping others increase the quality in our own lives. The information listed here gives creative ideas of how we can reach out to others and provide the help that is needed.
  • The Joys of Volunteering
    Voluntary work is defined as working without payment. The reason most people give why they work as a volunteer is because they want to give
  • How You Can Save Christmas: Operation Santa Claus
    You have just been voted Santa this year so you better check your list and warm up the reindeer. You're going to save Christmas for some kids and maybe, just maybe, you'll save Christmas for yourself as well.

© 2008 Shirley Anderson

Comments - How Do You Help Others?

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 09, 2011:

Thank-you, Brightforyou!

Helen Lewis from Florida on November 11, 2010:

Excellent hub Shirley, well done. You've given us all plenty of ideas on how to give back. Thank you.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 26, 2010:

Thanks, Ixxy! Love that you're doing that, too.

lxxy from Beneath, Between, Beyond on June 19, 2010:

I write about stuff and products all the time, getting into taking a camcorder around town to various places for some on-the-scene coverage. At any rate, I think this is an excellent little article of love.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 02, 2009:

Hi, PD! Yes, it seems that writer = not much money. I really like that I can help someone by writing an article because it can have long-term benefits for them. When someone is really in need, it feels great to do it, too.

Thanks for making the trip in from Bumbletown!

Rob Welsh from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time. on September 02, 2009:

Good Hub Shirley and some great ideas. I have found since being here that I am able to help others by writing.

It is a humbling experience that has taught me that the money isn't the important thing.

(of course that is common in writing I'm told & not being able to access the cents, is like having a cheap retirement plan). Keep up the good work and thank you for the opportunity.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 23, 2009:

Hi, OO! That is a great thought! I'd love it if everyone helped others. It would kind of be like the Pay It Forward movie, only it could be little things.

You're right, anything is possible.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

OptimistsOnly from Christchruch, New Zealand on April 23, 2009:

GREAT Stuff...Thank you for sharing. This is contageous! Imagine if we all thought this way! Anything is possible!

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 19, 2008:

Thank-you, Cgull. Yes, we can be a help to others every day of the year. Folks who need a hand don't suddenly stop needing a hand once Christmas is over. The holiday can be a great starting point though. The season fosters a helpful, giving feeling that can be great incentive to get started.

Thx for coming by, Cgull. A very Merry Christmas to you!

cgull8m from North Carolina on December 19, 2008:

Great Hub Shirley, this is the Christmas Spirit only we do it every day of the year, there are no excuses. Money is not the only means to help, you have showed us a variety of ways. Well done.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 19, 2008:

Michelle, thank-you so much for your wished blessings! Sometimes people forget that their time donation can be more valuable than their monetary one. I think that it's also a matter of people connecting to others. :) Ain't helping and being helped grand?

Ron - OMG! You were out west in the winter? That is the absolute worst place to be in this country at that time of year. Sub-zero temps and about 800 ft of snow. Poor boy. So, when ya coming back for a winter excursion? :)

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on December 19, 2008:

Shirley, I was touring with a top-40 road band. Had no choice of WHEN. We were all over (but in the lower regions) the three western-most provinces... and a whole bunch of smaller cities I can't remember the names of. We got stranded in a total white-out one time. Both busses. Nothing around but whiteness. I thought for sure we'd all had it then and there. I was picturing the headlines: AMERICAN ROCK BAND DIES IN CANADIAN SNOW STORM!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on December 19, 2008:

Hi Shirley, what a beautiful hub to reflect on. Too many times, we think the only time we can help others is when we have enough money but then we are never too poor that we cannot give anything. Thank you for the continued inspiration which will move many hearts to share this Christmas and always. Blessings be upon you! :)

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 15, 2008:

Tatjana, you brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful blessing, thank-you so much! A very Merry Christmas to you, as well. May your New Year be filled with bright blessings!

Tatjana-Mihaela from Zadar, CROATIA on December 15, 2008:

Dear Shirley,

you are inspiration, you are light, you are love. Thanks for this Hub, and I wish you all the best in your personal life: health, love, abundance, money, joy...because you deserve it.

Very happy and blessed Holidays.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 15, 2008:

Hi Lori. That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Thank-you so much. Thanks also for helping to spread the word/idea.

Happy Holidays, Lori!

lori763 from SWFL on December 15, 2008:

Hi Shirley,

Yes, we all can make a difference - and you just did!

And I just did too (I pinged your Hub;) Great message:)

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 14, 2008:

Thank-you. You must've been out west - Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, I'll bet. They get those kinds of temps more than we do here in Ontario. Of course, if you were in the Yukon or North West Territories, that would've been considered warm. :)

You spent the winter here - on purpose?!? Are you nuts? This is a beautiful country in the summer, you should come then.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on December 14, 2008:

OMG! I forgot you were in Canada... "eh!" I still use that and heven't been there in over 20 years.

The winter I spent in Canada, it was 35 BELOW ZERO. I couldn't believe it.

My sympathies.

Don't get me wrong... I LOVED the people there. They were completely awesome! But the winter up there SUCKS!

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 14, 2008:

Not enough hot buttered rums!

Arizona is SWEEEEEEET. It's cold and snowy here too - this is Canada, eh? I hate the cold, it makes me want to hibernate and I count the days until it warms up and the sun comes out again.

Hell, no, I'm not going to tell you to grow the hell up - where'd be the fun in that?

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on December 14, 2008:

Too many hot buttered rums?!?! Hmmmm?

God... Arizona sounds SWEEEEET right now. It's cold and ugly here and supposed to snow any time. I'm not a Winter kinda guy... give me tropical and sweaty any time... throw in an exotic drink (with those dorky-looking little umbrellas!) and heaven!

Hey... I might even be inspired to "rock the gonja" if the music's good enough... Quick, someone tell me to "grow-the-hell up!"

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 14, 2008:

I just replied to your comment, CW, posted it - and then it completely disappeared. I have no idea where it went to, strange.

Anyway, what I said was (only better, I think) - tears of joy are good. Re the girl's night out - great! Lemme know what night's good for you and we'll meet someplace warm, maybe Arizona.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on December 14, 2008:

Don't feel bad, Shirley, I've shed more tears of joy recently then ever in my life.

Now we'll have to do a girl's night out!

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 14, 2008:

You have every reason to be proud, CW. I'm glad it pulled you together rather than tearing you apart. You'll have a warm family Christmas. This kind of stuff brings tears to my eyes - I'm such a girl sometimes.

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on December 14, 2008:

Shirley, thank you, but please don't get the wrong idea. We are thriving and coming together as a family because of the recent trying times. We are stronger as a family now than we have possibly ever been and the future (to quote a corny song) looks bright! I'm very proud us right now...

PS: The only writing I've done about the recent months (kind of a self-therapy) is "I'm No Superman."

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 14, 2008:

Triplet Mom - You're welcome, glad it was helpful.  Honestly, I don't know how you would find time with 3 little ones all the same age.  May I suggest that you not use the babysitting tip.  :)  Thanks for your comment.

Constant Walker - I have been really busy lately and know I have a lot of hub reading to catch up on, but I think I'd better head over to your profile page to check out your latest - I had no idea you were going through all of this!  I'm sorry life has been not much fun lately.

After I read your comment, I just wanted to give you a hug!  I hope things are tons better and brighter in '09 for you and your family.

Although there's nothing like life-altering experiences to bond us to our loved ones, it's nice when it doesn't have to happen that way.  When it does though, you know that something positive and wonderful came from the bad stuff - it's the silver lining, I guess.  Sorry, I know that doesn't make it better but it sounds like you're making it better with a new perspective.  I have a feeling though, that you were that type of person before and what happened just made you more determined.

Thanks for sharing. Best of luck and Happy Holidays!

Constant Walker from Springfield, Oregon on December 13, 2008:

Very cool hub, Shirley, and I'm glad you set the "Lisa" link to open in a new window.  Appreciated!

My family has learned about leaning on, and supporting each other this holiday season:  Mine was just the first of THREE near-fatal incidents we have suffered in the past four months (two of us are forever changed), along with two major operations and one death.  Can an entire family be suddenly cursed... all at once?  I'm only partially kidding.

Anyway, we've made it through these "hell months" by being there for each other and giving the occasional dollar where possible.  It has made us stronger than ever before.  I have promised myself that, if I come out of this in a position to financially help my loved ones (can't elaborate on that just yet), that I will and do whatever I can to make the following year - and all those afterward - better for those I cherish.

Triplet Mom from West Coast on December 13, 2008:

Great hub! Giving of yourself in time and skills is so rewarding for both sides. Thanks for the ideas!

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 13, 2008:

I agree William, it is a great feeling to know that you've really helped someone in a way that they really needed it. That's why I think that sometimes practical help is better than financial.

Thank-you for coming by and leaving your nice words here.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on December 12, 2008:

As you obviously know, Shirley, when you give to others you get more than you give. Millions in America and around he world need a helping hand in these hard times, and your hub is very timely.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 11, 2008:

PoorQpine, thank-you! You know what they say - "It takes one to know one" - you did give a bunch of writers your quills. Happy Holidays to you and your fellow poorQpines! Thanks for coming by!

poorQpine from USA on December 10, 2008:


I thought that you were one of the special Humans when I read this and I see you are capable of looking past the fact that I am but a mere animal. Happy Holidays to you. me, poorQpine

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 10, 2008:

Aww, Benson! I haven't been serenaded in a long time, thank-you! Thanks for your wonderful comment.

Benson Yeung from Hong Kong on December 10, 2008:

I feel it in the comments.

I feel it in the hubs.

Love is all around us,

Shirley helps it grow.

I better stop here before the editor labels your hub duplicated content just because of my comment.

great hub and great kindness.

thanks, Shirley.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 07, 2008:

Hi CS - thanks! Mom enjoyed her involvement with others, for sure.

Thanks for coming by!

Tony Sky from London UK on December 07, 2008:

Excellent hub as always Shirley! with some very valuable tips to help!

Your mother sounded like a very kind, generous and truly inspirational woman..


Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 07, 2008:

Aw Cris, I could never out-sweet you!

Thanks for your kind words.

Cris A from Manila, Philippines on December 07, 2008:

Thanks for reminding me that helping does not necessarily mean financial aid and that need does not necessarily mean money. I think you have, how do you say it? - outsweet-ed me this time! Great hub, as usual! :D

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 07, 2008:

Thanks, Marco! I really appreciate you coming by.

marcofratelli from Australia on December 07, 2008:

Fantastic hub!

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 06, 2008:

Hi poorQpine (I'll spell your name right this time). Ya know, I just knew the minute I saw that eye that you were the charitable sort. What a noble cause you sacrificed your quills for, I'm proud to know you! It's a shame about the sunburned tail, hopefully no lasting scars.

Thanks for coming by and your kind words. Looking forward to seeing you 'round the hubs.

poorQpine from USA on December 06, 2008:


The one line in this hub that stand out to me above ALL,

"Almost everyone can help someone."

Now that is so profound that it wells up tears in my eye.

Reminds me of the time I came upon a group of writers who were lost for writing instruments. Being the generous PorkUpine that I am I started plucking out my tail quills left and right. I passed one or two out for each and every writer in the huddled crowd.

If only you had been there to suggest the considerations and cautions, I would not have got my tail sunburned the day I went for a before my bedtime stroll. But on a more serious note.....This is an excellent hub and I pray that everyone who reads it will take your advice. me poorQpine

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 06, 2008:

Violet Sun - what a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it. I'd say you had an angel helping you. Yes, I think each case has to be considered individually, but some folks are willing to drain the life out of you. I don't think that most are like that, though. Especially older folks who may be lonely but were raised not to ask for help.

Dottie - yeah, mom took her volunteer work seriously and didn't like that she was going to be letting them down. She didn't know when she went into the hospital that she would opt not to leave again, so she wasn't able to give them advance notice. She really enjoyed being part of a group that helped others. Thanks for coming by!

Dottie1 from MA, USA on December 06, 2008:

Great article Shirley. It's good to be reminded how helpful we all can be to one another especially at this time of year. I'm sorry to hear about your mom but what a great story you share for inspiration. Thanks.

VioletSun from Oregon/ Name: Marie on December 06, 2008:

I enjoyed reading your hub- I have been the recipient of kindness from strangers, at one very difficult time years ago, a stranger gave me $5,000, yup, this amount, as he was well off, and I never met him face to face, he was on the email list I was on and heard about my struggles then. Nowadays, I feel such pleasure in helping out financially when I can, and when I can't, I help in other ways, such as providing information that can benefit a friend or acquaintance, or preparing flyers to assist a friend starting a new business. And, yes, boundaries do have to come up as some folks can end up expecting "help;" guess, its a matter of using one's discernment.

Shirley Anderson (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 06, 2008:

Thx, Dr. Jim. You're right, we don't know when it could be us who needs someone to offer us a hand up.

DrJim on December 06, 2008:

another wonderful Hub....remember there but for the grace of god go I..none of know when it may be our hour of need.

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