“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
‘Tis the season of giving but in tough economic times, many of us find ourselves strapped for cash. If donating money is difficult right now, don’t fret, you can still contribute to the greater good. There are plenty of ways to give that doesn’t involve money directly. Below are 5 ideas.
- Donate your stuff. Declutter and give items in good condition to a non profit that can use them. Some organizations such as a homeless shelter can use clothes or housewares directly but others such as Goodwill sell your donations to fund their programs. Either way, call the non-profit first to find out what they need and what they cannot accept before you bring your things.
- Click on a website. These site have sponsors that will give a penny or two to a good cause for each time you click on a button which leads to some ads. Sure, it’s not a lot of money but it really adds up when lots of people click everyday. Care2 has different causes you can click on along with informative articles about affecting change in the world. For a more comprehensive listing of different click to donate sites, see One Click at a Time.
- Give a part of you. Consider donating blood or register to be a bone marrow donor. You can literally give someone a second chance at life. The bone marrow registry is in particular need for people of non-European ancestry as patients have the best chance of a match from someone of their own ethic background. If you’re squeamish about needles like I am but have long hair, consider giving your hair. It can be made into wigs for women and children who’ve lost their hair from cancer treatments or other medical conditions.
- Donate miles. If you find frequent flyer miles to be difficult to use like I do, why not donate them to a charity instead of letting them expire? Many major airlines have donation programs that allow you to give miles to charities they partner with such as Doctors without Borders. If your airline is not mentioned in the above link, go to the airline’s site and log into your frequent flyer account. Look for “donate miles” as an option or search for the term. Be aware that some airlines specify a minimum donation, such as 1,000 miles.
- Volunteer. Your time and energy may be worth even more than your money. Whether you have 10 minutes, half a day, or a whole weekend to spare, there’s a way to help. Enter your interest and your city in Volunteer Match and the site will give you a list of opportunities. If you’re super busy, try micro-volunteering online through Sparked.com. You can help without even leaving your computer!
Several years ago I did a winter coat drive at work which netted lots of warm clothing and it cost me only a little time and a little gas money to deliver the goods. Giving to charity comes in so many forms. It’s limited only by your imagination, not what’s in your wallet. Pick what works for you and know that no matter what your financial circumstances, you can make a contribution to others.