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Pay it forward | Donate or Volunteer

There are periods of time in which we all need a little help. You should never feel bad to ask others for assistance at those points of time in your life, and be sure to show gratitude as well when doing so. Once you make it through the challenge(s) you are faced with, be sure to give back to others once you are reestablished. This is so important, and the paying it forward/giving back what separates the “takers” and “givers”.

This concept of “paying it forward” is what differentiates people. Sadly, there are too many people that just ask, ask, and then ask again. It could be a poor person who just asks for “free stuff” or government money or toys at Christmas. They never do anything to get back on their feet on their own or establish self-sufficiency. Or if/when they do get back on track, they never show any gratitude and give back to others. Instead, they really just want a hand-out in life. The truth is, even just one person who expects a hand-out is one too many. Or it could be a rich person, who never earned their money, who walks around feeling they are entitled…they too can be takers.

What separates these hard-working, generous people (who pay it forward) from others in what they do to give back. Every single charity organization and most churches need volunteers. They all need donations as well. This will allow these non-profit groups to help more people. So when you ask for help, that is fine. But give back later. Or even if you can’t give back, volunteer as that costs you nothing.

There are free ways to give back, volunteer and pay it forward to others. As a few examples, the Salvation Army needs Red Kettle Bell ringers each and every Christmas season. You can donate your time to this worthy cause.

Organizations such as Big Brother or Sister need people to volunteer to mentor kids from struggling or challenged households. There are hundreds of Agency on Aging centers that need people to volunteer to shovel the driveway of an elderly person, cut their lawn, or take similar steps. Many others need a role model, as too many children do not and never had one.

  • Thrift stores need volunteer workers to stock the shelves or work the cash register.
  • Food pantries need volunteer workers too.
  • Soup kitchens are always looking for people to pay forward their generosity by serving meals to the homeless.
  • Faith based groups, including churches, need people to take on many volunteer activities.

There are literally thousands of charities to volunteer at. It does not cost you a dime to do this, and it is a way to give back. If you do not do this, many of these non-profits may need to close their doors. The lack of giving back also puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths too in which they think too many low income families just take.

Another way to pay it forward to others is to donate. Now this can be a little more challenging in some cases. Before you even think of doing this, be sure your own financial situation is stabilized. The reason being is that this can be just a little costly. Or pay it forward by just doing other things to financially give back, such as be a generous tipper.

What donating may involve is giving a can of food to a pantry. Or maybe participating in the Toys for Tots or Angel Tree Christmas programs by buying presents for children. Of course, financial contributions are always needed by these charities as well. As there are millions of children that need help at Christmas.

This form of donating can be a little more costly then volunteering your time, which is of course free to do. But there are inexpensive ways to donate as well, such as buying food using coupons and then giving it to a pantry. Or maybe making a small Christmas present by knitting it or creating the gift at home, which costs very little. Or given a gently used item to a local church rather than throwing it out.

Of course, even you never have time (which is doubtful) or never have financial means to give back (which is more possible) pay it forward just by being kind and grateful. Treat others with respect. Maybe help that vulnerable senior citizen by carrying their groceries.  Be grateful to the support you may have received from a charity such as the Salvation Army. Hold a door open for a stranger. Say please or thank you to both the people that have helped you out as well as strangers. Kindness and gratitude may be some of the easiest, and most effective ways to pay it forward.

As we noted, what differentiates people from “takers” to “givers” is helping others out. Even if you live in poverty, or are in a financial crisis, nothing prevents you from donating your time or being kind to pay it forward to others that may be struggling.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

2 thoughts on “Pay it forward | Donate or Volunteer

  • February 28, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Why don’t others pay forward? Maybe people do not have the means to or they are pre-occupied with their own lives.
    Perhaps there is no way for someone to pay it forward or donate or volunteer as they can’t connect with everyday people. I think paying it forward involves some chance taking and risk. As there are those who will just take advantage of you.

  • April 16, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Can’t help but commenting on Bernie Sanders Paying it Forward! Seems good place do it. Wow. He is so generous. Earning $1.31 million on his taxes, he donates $36,300 (2.7% of his income). A joke. He is not paying it forward. Of those tiny donations of which $25,000 went to his own charity (bringing him down to .85% if you discount that). But he has no issues in taxing successful people and giving our money away (at significantly higher income tax rates) and giving our money away to the poor.


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