What do you do when somebody comes up to you on the street and asks you for money? How do you respond?

Do you give it to them? Do you say “sorry, I don’t have any money” (even if you really do)? Do you hesitate to give, because you feel like giving money to someone on the street, whether they are panhandling, begging or homeless, could be enabling their “habits” and not actually helping them?

Let’s talk about the last one: enabling their bad habits.

A quick side note: Most people feel like they should give to others and I don’t think you are responsible for what somebody does with the money you give them, as long as your intentions were pure.

That being said, I do believe that giving money to everyone who asks for it can definitely enable some people, but if you feel lead to give money to a person, don’t let me stop you. That’s your business and you should never feel guilty about giving.

I won’t get too deep into the “when giving is enabling” debate, though it’s a good debate. I am simply going to give you 8 ways to give without having to worry about enabling someone.

1. Don’t Give Money

Actually buy them the thing they need. (Food, gas, clothing, etc.)

2. Give Plastic Food

Carry $5 or $10 gift cards with you for restaurants in the area. This way you are essentially giving them food instead of money.

3. Suspended Coffee

Some coffee shops are now letting you buy “suspended coffees” when you place an order. This pays for a future cup of coffee when someone comes in that can’t afford one.

4. Take it To-Go

When you go out to eat in an area where you are frequently asked for money, place a small to-go order when you leave the restaurant and give it to the first person that asks if you have money for food.

5. Collect Recyclables

You can collect recyclables like cans or plastics and give them to someone who needs to turn them in for cash more than you do. Just set up a can for recyclables in your home and when it’s full, find someone who would love to collect on it.

6. Know Your Shelters

Become familiar with the homeless shelters in your area so that you can point them in the right direction or, if you are comfortable with it, take them there.

7. Donate Your Clothing

Instead of donating your clothes or useful items to a thrift store, why not donate them to homeless people or beggars directly?

8. Think Big

Start your own homeless shelter, help fund a homeless shelter or build a small guest house that you can use to help homeless people get back on their feet..

More on giving: The Importance of Giving

But, What if They are Just Scamming You?

Even if someone is scamming you, at least you helped them.

Honestly, if they are at a point in their life where they feel like they need to beg for money, then they are at a point where they need the help, even if they are trying to scam you.