A Broke Student’s Guide to Giving


So you’re broke? But you still want to give back, and not just tithing to the church. When I was a college student I felt perpetually broke. My heart for the poor seemed to be overshadowed by my need for textbooks, food and tuition. Now, ten years later, I am a missionary who still has a tight budget, but has learned about new and creative ways to give not just dollars, but also time and other needed resources.

So here are a handful of practical ways the average student can give back.


Micro-giving is the future of fundraising. There are many apps that rounds up each purchase you make to the nearest dollar and automatically gives the extra change to a non-profit of your choice. You can set limits daily or monthly. His Kingdom Funding is seeing great success in these “round-up” accounts.

When you are already spending, what is an extra 37 cents?

Sign up for shop-to-give services

AmazonSmile is the best example of a shop-to-give service. You sign up, pick the charity of your choice, and then buy your normal stuff- and Amazon gives a percentage of your purchase to the charity you picked. There is no extra money coming out of your pocket. Just know that your items are doing good!

This is the simplest way to give, you literally do nothing different. You shop, they give!

Volunteer your time (and gain experience in your field)

At the organization I work with,World Impact, we have medical clinics and many of our volunteers are in med school. The beauty is they get to work with a physician and learn about high risk communities. The student gets practical experience and the organization gets much needed help.

For the past 3 years I have spent many hours with marketing students from Pepperdine University. They are tasked with aiding me with relevant market research that provides best practices and surveys of millennials that I do not have daily access to. And I hope the students get something out of this, I have seen some of them in their jobs after graduation and we have reminisced and they have thanked me- one even went into nonprofit consulting! Many nonprofits need skilled workers in their offices, schools, clinics and after school programs

Even an hour a week can make a difference.

Shampoo, body wash, tampons and toothpaste

Buy two, donate one. Homeless shelters, street outreach teams, food pantries, churches, homework clubs, camps and even pregnancy centers need every day toiletries. There are always kids, teens and adults that go without, so when you head to Target to grab a bottle of Suave, pick up an extra one. Start a basket on your dorm floor and once a month take it to the donation spot of your choosing. Pray for that ministry and find other ways to connect your floor mates to the outreach they do.

These simple acts can be a game changer.

Get social

So many times we think giving needs to be a huge act, while in reality any amount helps—even using your social media platform to promote a charity you love. If you run, run with a purpose. If you do direct sales, give a portion of the sales one month a year. If you write for your school paper, find ways to tell the stories of alumni who are active in steering change.

Giving also does not need to be a solo effort. Get together with a group of friends and pool funds to sponsor a child, or put together a campus awareness event. Gather monthly and pray for missionaries, nonprofits and those in need. Plan and sponsor creative service events to raise funds, or go together to volunteer at an organization.

Small, creative ideas can make a big difference.

Just give

The bottom line is, if you are willing to look outside the box, there are plenty of ways to give back. The Lord will direct your heart. And in the words of a dear friend of mine, “Where your heart is, there your wallet will be also.”