“Ask Brianna” is a column from NerdWallet for 20-somethings or anyone else starting out. I’m here to help you manage your money, find a job and pay off student loans—all the real-world stuff no one taught us how to do in college. Send your questions about postgrad life to askbrianna(at)nerdwallet.com.
Q: This time of year, I’m getting a lot of requests to donate money, but bills and debt payments are hanging over my head. I want to be generous. Can I give to charity anyway?
A: Congratulations: You have a heart. The desire to donate comes from a place of compassion and empathy, and it’s worth celebrating.
“We can’t avoid being human and wanting to help others,” says Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher on the Millennial Impact Project, which studies millennials’ philanthropic behavior.
Feldmann says millennials donate $200 to $300 a year on average, and closer to $400 in years when major natural disasters occur.
While you can’t give money you don’t have, it’s possible to do your part to save the world even with, say, thousands of dollars in student loan debt. You’re financially ready to give if you are: