Lifestyle & Culture

How to support a charity when you’re broke

Is your lack of funds stopping you from being the philanthropist you want to be? Arlya Tuckey has a few tips on how to help out on a student budget.

Wanting to help support charities can be hard when you are a uni student without much money, but there are other ways to help. Newcastle has many local charities and national organisations that need your help, not just your money. These organisations are dedicated to making a difference in the community.

Many of you have probably shopped at a second-hand shop such as Lifeline, Vinnies, Salvos, or Samaritans and been happy to find bargain items. But these frontline shops are so much more than somewhere to get your new favourite party shirt or a great book for a buck. Lifeline offers a crisis support line, counselling and works hard with suicide prevention, saving over 5000 lives a year in Newcastle, Central Coast, and the Hunter Region alone. They rely on over 11,000 volunteers nationally to do this work. Samaritans help struggling families, homeless youths offers disability support and other services to the community. Likewise for Salvos, Vinnies and other second-hand shops.

Other organisations such as Canteen, World’s Greatest Shave, and Camp Quality help people battling cancer. The Smith Family assists disadvantaged children to give them the best opportunities for their future and Wesley Mission does everything from supporting struggling families, children and young adults to disability, foster, and age care. They offer mental health support, suicide prevention and much more.

RSPCA and Hunter Animal Rescue help animals in need and assist them in finding a new and good home, or rehabilitating and releasing wild animals.

It can be overwhelming to know how you can help. Often when you visit the website of these organisations or talk to one of the reps in a shopping centre, they ask for donations which many students might have trouble affording. Here are some alternatives.


Donating clothes, books, toys, furniture and any second-hand items you no longer have a need for to second-hand shops is one way of helping. The money that is earned at most charity stores goes towards various not-for-profit initiatives.

The Smith Family gives opportunities and help to disadvantaged children and greatly appreciates toy, clothes, and book donations. Many children in financially difficult circumstances do not get to experience the joy of opening gifts on Christmas morning. By donating unused items, you give hope and excitement to a child. You can host a gift collection in your local area where other people can give things too.

Lastly, donating blood at your local Red Cross Blood Donors saves lives all throughout Australia. It only takes less than an hour of your time a few times a year to help someone in dire need of a transfusion. One-third of blood donated goes towards helping cancer patients and the rest assists in a range of areas, some of which can be lifesaving. You have to, of course, suffer a prick from the needle, but at least they give you juice and food at the end of it. Who doesn’t love free food? You can check your eligibility online at their website.


Volunteers are crucial to not-for-profit organisations which are trying to use as many of their resources to help. Volunteering is a way you can donate your time to a good cause even if it just a few hours every now and then.

You can volunteer at a second-hand shop and also get first dibs on the best of second-hand clothes. You can learn new things, meet great people, and have experiences you may never have dreamed of. Do you enjoy working with kids? Camp Quality and Canteen provide great opportunities to work with kids battling cancer. Do you enjoy teaching new skills or assisting others? The Smith Family and Wesley mission are always seeking tutors, mentors and carers. Do you love animals? Volunteer for Hunter Animal Rescue or RSPCA and spend time with animals, go dog walking or even foster a pet until it can find a new home. No matter your interest, there is a volunteering option for you that offers new adventure, challenges, and the ability to help beyond yourself.


Fundraising is another way to help raise money for good causes. Be brave and shave your head for cancer research for the World’s Greatest Shave. Get active and go for a charity run, walk or cycling challenge. Hold a bake sale or sausage sizzle on campus to raise funds for the charity of your choice. Host an event with a gold coin donation or a charity tin. You can use social media to promote fundraising events and raise money for a cause.

Spread the Word

Word of mouth goes a long way towards advocating different initiatives and organisations. You may not be able to afford to donate today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell others who might be able to help monetarily or in another way.

It can be difficult to support charities as a student, but there are things you can do to help. In the meantime, you get to have new experiences and meet new people. Whether it be donating your pre-loved clothes or volunteering your time, every little bit counts.

Feature Image: Kat Yukawa via Unsplash, no changes made.

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