For College Students

Sharing Money for College Students

Here’s how you can make a difference without breaking the bank.


College students can play an important role in creating a better tomorrow. By supporting charities, donating your time, or even starting your own foundation, you can help the less fortunate members of your community. It’s a rewarding practice that warms the heart and spreads well-being around you.

By making charity part of your financial habits, you can also create a sense of abundance for yourself and those who benefit from your support. To help you share your blessings with others, we’ve rounded up our favorite ideas to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Why Sharing Your Own Money Is Important

Giving comes from a place of gratitude. It reflects an appreciation for what you have and the confidence that there’s enough to go around. But sometimes, it’s hard to give up some of what feels like it’s only yours, especially when you’re still young and don’t have a steady source of income.

The best way to overcome that sense of scarcity is by creating an experience out of sharing. You probably won’t miss that cash if you set a little money aside every week. But after several months go by, you’ll have a significant sum saved up. This is your charity fund.

When you take that money and do something good with it, you’ll experience the magic of giving. It’s an act of kindness that promotes happiness and empathy. But to enjoy those benefits, you have to share some of what you have with others.

Need more reasons to get on the charity train? These may motivate you:

  • Charitable contributions are tax deductible
  • Contributing to a good cause helps you cut back on spending
  • Donations make you feel wealthier and good about yourself

How to Share Money as a College Student

Many college students buy into the idea that they’re broke and can’t afford to make donations. Sometimes, the thought of a lump sum donation feels overwhelming. While it may be true that you don’t have a ton of money to spare, most of the time, it is possible to find a few extra bucks each week. 

For example, if you skip those midnight snacks from your dorm’s vending machine and put that money in a charity jar, you could have an extra $5 each week. By the end of the month, that’s $20 – enough to buy ingredients for a whole family to eat dinner! 

Isn’t it pretty amazing what you can accomplish by setting $5 aside every week? That’s why recurring donations spread out over time make such a big difference.

The best way to accomplish ongoing donations is by including them in your budget and creating a dedicated savings account for charity. You can even set up automatic weekly withdrawals and, before you know it, those weekly transfers will add up.

To stay motivated and continue setting money aside, we suggest finding a charity that matters to you. There are many options out there, and these are only a few of the causes that resonate with college students:

  • Scholarship and tuition assistance for low-income students
  • Racial justice
  • Gender equality
  • Environmental protection
  • Paying bail for people in need

How to Share More Than Just Your Money

No money to spare? No problem! If you’re on a super tight budget, you can still help those in need by donating your time.

You’ve heard the phrase “time is money,” right? The reason it’s such a famous phrase is that it’s absolutely true! And it also applies to the causes that matter to you. 

If you want to make a big difference, but you’re strapped for cash, reach out to local non-profits or state-run institutions and ask how you can help. The following are some of the establishments that are often short-staffed and could use an extra hand with everyday tasks or office work:

  • Animal shelters
  • Food drives
  • Museums
  • Public libraries
  • Retirement homes

Got a jam-packed schedule this semester, but you still want to bring a smile to someone’s face? Then it’s time to get creative! Check out these ideas that you can do any time and don’t require a significant commitment from you:

  • Set up a virtual fundraiser
  • Make cards for kids in the hospital
  • Donate your hair
  • Drive patients to doctor appointments
  • Give your used books to the library

Remember, the summertime is also a great time to help others. Many college students travel abroad during the break and help build homes for people in other countries. You can also volunteer to help preserve wildlife in other parts of the world, tutor children, or work as a medical assistant. With so many summer volunteer abroad programs, the opportunities to help are endless. 

How to Get Others to Pitch In

Giving is better when you get others to join you! Getting your family and friends to participate can create more well-being and help more people in need.

These are some ways to raise funds with your community:

  • Ask for charitable donations instead of birthday presents
  • Organize a charity auction
  • Tap into the power of crowdfunding
  • Host an event in your dorm and donate the money
  • Have a good old fashioned bake sale

If you want to make giving more exciting for everyone, these are some fun opportunities that benefit good causes:

  • Join a charity walk/run with your best friends
  • Plan a beach or park clean up day
  • Put together a kids sports team and get your friends to coach them on the weekends
  • Throw a baking party and take the goodies to your local food pantry
  • Paint a community mural

If you’ve got a job, you can also multiply your contributions by asking your employer to match your donations. Many companies do this because they receive tax benefits, and it’s an easy way for them to help those in need.

Another way to make the most of your dollars is to shop from brands that donate some of their proceeds to charity. If you’re already going to spend the money, you might as well take the time to find brands that align with your values.

Sharing Definitions Every College Student Should Know

Having the correct vocabulary helps you identify the organizations that resonate with you. It also allows you to discover more opportunities to help and ways to get others involved. These are some of the words that every college philanthropist should know:

  • Annual Report: A voluntary report that foundations, nonprofit organizations, or corporate institutions issue to provide financial data that describes how their funds are used.
  • Charity: Assistance (usually monetary) that helps relieve poverty or distress for the benefit of the community.
  • Foundation: A community or corporate institution that makes grants to organizations or individuals in need.
  • In-Kind Contribution: A donation of goods or services rather than money.
  • Nonprofit Organization: An organization whose income is not used for financial gain. Charitable nonprofits receive special tax treatment.

Books to Learn About Sharing Money

Sharing is a lifelong activity and a financial habit. If you want to use your money and resources to do good in the world, these are some of the best books you can read on the subject. Check out all of our recommendations on books about money for college students for more great reads!

Most Fun to Read

Memes to Movements is a modern approach to making a difference in the world. It’s a great choice for virtual activists who want to use the power of social media and technology to help those who need it most.

Best Career Advice

Do you want to make a career out of fighting for the causes you believe in? Then check out the inspiring story of Valerie Jarrett in Finding My Voice, an inspiring audiobook about believing in yourself and your values.

Best Background Knowledge

Understanding what philanthropy is and its history is the best way to learn about the importance of sharing. In Understanding Philanthropy, you get a comprehensive picture of its history and social importance. It’s an excellent choice for college students majoring in social sciences or politics.

Most Practical Advice

Doing Better is packed with current insight on altruism and how to make the biggest impact. Best of all, it’s a great resource for those who want to do good but don’t have huge pockets. By examining the issues from different perspectives, this book helps the reader see all the ways in which they can make a difference.

Best Narrative

If you’re looking for a page-turner, you must get your hands on Thirst. It’s the fascinating story of a nonprofit charity CEO and his mission to bring water to everyone in the world. A must-read for aspiring social entrepreneurs.

A final word on giving: Remember that sharing is a financial habit and any time of year is a good opportunity to help others. With your donations and acts of kindness, you can contribute to good causes and help society as a whole. But don’t be surprised if you notice that you also grow your own wealth and receive much more in return whenever you give.

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About the Author

Lucia Caldera

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks personal growth. Lucia's work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for future generations.

Last updated on: March 15, 2022