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How to give back and maintain financial security

Chase has teamed up with The Players' Tribune and Business Insider to present "Letters to My Younger Self," a series in which athletes reflect on their biggest lessons learned — from finance to relationships to careers. Readers will also discover how to apply specific financial learnings to their own lives.

Many people struggle with the choice between doing good work for society and doing financially well in their career, because they think they can only do one. But that's not true. It's possible to achieve financially security, and give back to society — even if we're not doing both from 9 to 5.

Charitable donations are one way people choose to give back, but we often think about them too simply — a check we write at the end of the year to our favorite organizations. But there are many other ways to give back that won't compromise your finances.

"People are donating more strategically and less out of a sense of obligation," says Susan Ingmire, president of Ignite Philanthropy Partners. "In today's busy, stressed-out world, time and resources are precious."

Here are a few ways to make a charitable contribution that really counts.

Volunteer with a local organization

From soup kitchens to after school programs, there are plenty of opportunities to donate time to an organization in need. But if you're looking to combine your work with your passion, consider donating some of your professional skills to an organization that's close to your heart. If you work in marketing, volunteer to be part of the publicity or fundraising committees. If you're accountant by day, offer to help oversee the finances.

Give gift donations in honor of family and friends

It's hard to come up with novel gift ideas after a certain age. How much do any of us really need another gift card to a coffee shop? Instead, consider giving a donation to a friend or family member's favorite charity in his or her name. It's a much more thoughtful gift, and one that will be recognized and appreciated past the recipient's special day.

Donate things you don't need

If you earn enough to live comfortably, it's likely that you're living with things that would be more appreciated by those in need. So at the beginning of each season, take stock of your closet and donate clothes to organizations such as The Salvation Army. If you have work-appropriate clothing, consider Dress for Success and Career Gear, which provide clothing for women and men to wear on job interviews.

Share credit card rewards

Earning points is one of the biggest perks of having a credit card, and most of us spend strategically to earn the maximum number possible. While these generally go toward airfares and gift cards, they're also a great way to give back. Many of the credit card points networks allow you to donate points directly to a nonprofit. You can also use points to purchase cash gift cards, which can be donated to local organizations as gifts during the holidays.

Making charitable donations outside the traditional channels serves as a good reminder of how lucky you are, and that there are people out there who aren't so fortunate.

And as Ingmire says, "There is no doubt that volunteering gives a 'return on life.'"

Please read NBA star David Robinson’s letter about saving money and investing in his community.

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