We often hear about the good that philanthropy can do for the donor, as well as for the recipients. The benefits of giving are numerous, regardless of the charity, but the media seems to focus on the charitable acts on the wealthy and the major corporations. Yet, one doesn’t have to be wealthy to be a good philanthropist. You only need to have the will to help and an open heart.

In fact, the concept of philanthropy without giving money was explored as early as 1940 by Corinne Updegraff Wells. In the article she penned for The Rotarian, Ms. Wells reveals that gift of philanthropy doesn’t always concern donating money. To prove her point, she shared the story of her neighbor who received the gift of “48 Tuesday afternoons” from a Mrs. B.

The gift of Tuesday afternoons was available any week, except in August, as Mrs. B was on a vacation of her own at that time. Otherwise, the lady took the place of Mrs. Wells’ neighbor, who was a mother of three and lived a hectic life as a stay at home mom. For each Tuesday, Mrs. B would babysit the children and take on all of the mother’s duties, so she could have those few short hours to herself.

While this story is quite dated, even today’s parents can recognize the value of a trustworthy babysitter. The gift cost Mrs. B nothing more than a few hours of her time, but, to that overworked mother, the gift was a tremendous gesture that offered her something that she might not have otherwise experienced.

Gifts of philanthropy can be of any nature. Even if you don’t have a penny to your name, there is certainly something you can give to another. A smile, some common courtesy, a little household help, or even a genuine interest in someone’s day can be enough to change a life. If you have a talent for music, writing, or art, those gifts can do more for one person than any gift of money.

Being a good philanthropist doesn’t always involve giving money or donating property. Instead, you can simply spend a little time each day helping out your neighbors or visiting with elderly individuals who may have no one else. Taking 20 minutes just to run to the grocery store for your neighbor may mean ensuring he’ll have food for the week. With a big heart and a willingness to help, you don’t need money to make a difference.