Donating to charity is a selfless act that helps keep charities afloat. In many cases, the programs and services offered by charities are the only options for the less fortunate, who rely on such help to provide some of the most basic human needs, including food and shelter.

Donating to charity is a selfless act that helps keep charities afloat. In many cases, the programs and services offered by charities are the only options for the less fortunate, who rely on such help to provide some of the most basic human needs, including food and shelter.

That said, the global economic struggles have been hard on everyone, and charities are no exceptions. Many donors who once gave freely have been forced to cut back on their donations or stop making them entirely, putting charities in a precarious position. Generous men and women who still want to donate but need help figuring out a way to do it should consider the following tips:

• Determine your monthly budget. It's impossible to comfortably donate to charity if you don't have a firm grasp of your budget and spending habits. Track spending for a few months and examine anything you might be able to cut back on. Some recurring costs can be drastically reduced, and people might be surprised to learn just how much they can save. For example, those who purchase a cup of coffee each morning at a coffee shop might spend roughly $2 per cup, which is $14 per week and nearly $60 per month. However, if those people made coffee for themselves each morning, the cost would be considerably less. That minor change to a daily routine can save as much as $50 per month, or $600 per year.

• When examining monthly spending, determine a budget you can live with and then put any money you save toward a charitable donation. Chances are, your life won't change at all, but you will make a difference in the lives of the people who rely on the charity you choose to support.

• Determine what you can afford to donate. It might sound like a cliche, but every little bit does help when it comes to charitable donations. Individuals who want to donate but can't afford a substantial donation should know that charities do not turn down a donation for being too small. In fact, there's no such thing as a donation that's too small. Consider the case of the United States. With an overall population well over 300 million people, if every American donated just $5 a year to charity, the result would be more than $1.5 billion in charitable donations. Donations big and small add up, and men and women should donate whatever it is they deem they can afford. If you can't afford to make a financial donation, donate your time instead. Charities are in constant need of reliable volunteers.

• Gradually build your donation. Much like you might save up to buy a new car or a new television, you can also save up to make a charitable donation. Each week, deposit a small amount of money into a savings account and then donate what you've deposited once a year. This often takes the sting out of making a substantial donation, and you aren't liable to miss those extra few dollars a week you deposit into your savings account.