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Giving to charities without spending money

Last post Sun, Dec 21 2008 10:46 AM by karenteacher. 9 replies.
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  • Sat, Dec 20 2008 2:27 PM

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Giving to charities without spending money

    I've been sorting through some old files off and on and came across one I wrote four Christmases ago. Thought it might be of help to some, although we're running out of time for some of it. Can you add other ideas? 


    Unless you're very wealthy, giving to charity at the holidays on top of other expenses can mean giving less than you'd like. Here's one solution for next year: As you set up your budget for the coming year, set aside holiday funds, then set aside a little more for the inevitable requests for donations that you don't get any other time. You'll be ready to give next year without being stingy or feeling imposed upon.

    But what about this year? There are still ways to make a difference without giving cash.

    Since food banks, soup kitchens and other food services sometimes have so many volunteers during the holidays that they turn away offers, helping in a soup kitchen or food bank may not be possible. Instead, volunteer to clean and repair donated toys, provide transportation for church services or tree lighting ceremonies, etc., babysit while others shop or work.

    Retirement homes are filled with people who can't go home for the holidays. Sometimes these people don't have family members who are able or willing to visit very often at any time. Go. Introduce yourself and get to know an elderly man or woman or two or three... you'll be glad you did and so will they if you go with an open heart.

    Get involved.
    Find a cause you are passionate about and get involved in helping. Write letters, make phone calls... but stick to the guidelines of the organization. Striking out on your own can damage the cause. Ask what you can do for animal rescue organizations, homelessness advocates, education opportunities programs, retirement home conditions...

    Start at home.
    Or at least in your neighborhood. Is there someone who is lonely? Invite them for a holiday dinner. Someone who needs transportation? You can do that. Someone who is down on their luck? Let food and gift donations go directly to them instead of charity. It can be as simple as giving them that leftover chili that you made 'way too much of and don't want to just throw out, or as elaborate as giving a food basket made up from what you have on hand and leaving it on their doorstep anonymously.

    Do what you do.
    Do you sew? Knit? Bake? Repair furniture? Fix cars? Whatever you do, there is someone who needs that service. Look around. Make knitted slippers for retirement home residents or orphanages. Change the oil in an organization's vehicle. Bake birthday cakes for a children's ward at the hospital.

    Sure, it takes a little courage to get started. But once you've taken the first step, you'll find many, many ways to make a difference without digging into your pocket. Money is cold, after all, and can only buy goods. The warmth of caring is something that money can't buy. 

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  • Sat, Dec 20 2008 2:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    I linked my Food Lion MVP Card to an animal shelter in North Carolina. I got Aurora from that shelter in 2006. I live too far away to physically help them, but I can help them whenever I buy things at Food Lion.

    One of the clerks at the Meat Dept. at Harris Teeter in Newport News was going to dish up meals at the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving Day.

    Sometimes the coupons are marked that they will give $$$ to different organizations if they are redeemed. I've done that in the past.

  • Sat, Dec 20 2008 4:03 PM In reply to

    • cmouse01
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Aug 23 2008
    • Wisconsin
    • Posts 227

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    I use GoodSearch (http://www.goodsearch.com/) to do my internet searches - it uses Yahoo's search engine.  Every time I search, they donate money to the charity or cause that I have designated.  They also have GoodShop.com that will donate money when you shop at major retailers by going through their site.

    Our area also has SmartTown Alliance (http://www.smarttownalliance.com/index.php).  When I shop at local stores (including one gas station) and restaurants, those places will refund a portion of the purchase price and it goes back on the card - so it's kind of like a gift card.  Another portion of the refund goes to the charity I designate.  I think only Red Wing, Winona, and New Ulm, Minnesota are on the program at this time.

    Both programs require a minimum in the "account" before they send a check to the charity, but it's cumulative across all of those people that have that charity set up.

  • Sat, Dec 20 2008 5:58 PM In reply to

    • dlw
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Oct 23 2007
    • Posts 463

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    Great Post. I have been volunteering since I was 18 years old and I am now 58 years old. I love it. Tomorrow I am chaperoning a Christmas Party and Dance for Teenagers and Adults with Disabilities. Frankly it will be the highlight of my week. If you haven't ever volunteered...DO IT. You'll never regret it.


  • Sat, Dec 20 2008 9:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    That was a very good article, Pat.  And with a very good point.  Since I run a volunteer program, I must say I'm in agreement with you.  Many people call literally days before Thanksgiving and Christmas and want to help without realizing that most places have lined up their volunteers weeks, even months, in advance.  But those same places sure could use the help in January when everyone resumes their normal schedule.

    There really is something out there for everyone.  I recommend the website volunteermatch.org for finding opportunities and also calling your local United Way or Volunteer Center.  (Hint: sometimes your local Volunteer Center is a part of United Way.)

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • Sun, Dec 21 2008 12:32 AM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    Great post and good food for thought.  I think it's a great point that organizations need help year round, not just at the holidays.

    I haven't had the extra cash for much charitable giving lately, which is a challenge as we feel strongly about certain causes and like to support when possible.  Right now, I do spend a little money here and there when I see a good sale for items that the organizations we support can use-most have wish lists that I keep my eye on.  I volunteer when I can but right now I haven't been as able to volunteer . . . I love it though and know I will do much more once my kids are school aged.

  • Sun, Dec 21 2008 1:17 AM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    I fonate a bag of food for the food bag I have the means to do it this year last year no next year I will volunteer for the food bavk to hand out the bags of food...Because I was homeless and needed food I straved weighting almost at the time close to 110 and at 5'5 thats not good now at least Im happy and to much weight gain rather that and a roof over the head and abed to sleep in...

    So food bank it is next year...:)

  • Sun, Dec 21 2008 1:26 AM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    Thanks for the reminder!

    When it comes to giving to charity, I will contribute money if I can, but I'd much rather invest my time or talents.   Being there, doing tangible things makes me feel connected to others and their needs in a way that writing a cheque will never do!   And I "drag" my children along, to teach them that they can always find a way to help others, even if they have no cash! 

    There is another giving opportunity that you haven't mentioned in your list.  You can donate things you no longer use that will be a blessing to someone else.  It's a great, no-cost way to get your children involved in charitable giving.   Children can round up their outgrown toys, books etc, clean them up and donate them to appropriate charities. 

    Philippians 4:19

    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus
  • Sun, Dec 21 2008 8:08 AM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    And I "drag" my children along, to teach them that they can always find a way to help others, even if they have no cash! 

    Another excellent point!  Kids should be involved early.  It's good to teach them that there are people in need and they, even though they are "just kids", can help!  There are many family-friendly events out there that need time and, if I'm not mistaken, studies have shown that families volunteering together, much like eating dinner together, have fewer problems with their children and have more opportunities to open up discussion on topics that otherwise wouldn't come up.  There was a dinner for kids that my co-worker used to volunteer with; he took his grandson with him one year and at one point his grandson came up to him and said, "Papa, that boy over there is in my math class."  And my co-worker said back to him, "Son, not everyone is as fortunate as you are."  His grandson has now helped him every year for the past 5 years.

    Children can round up their outgrown toys, books etc, clean them up and donate them to appropriate charities. 

    We do this.  Especially between Christmas and her birthday in March.  I try to squeeze it in again in the summer if I can.  We take the toys to a battered women's shelter where children have most often been brought with the mothers.  Even though DD is only 4 I tell her, "Some children only have 1 or 2 toys to play with.  And look at all your toys.  We should share them with other children because we are so lucky and blessed and a new toy would make them very happy."  Then I'll set some type of like item out, like all of her stuff animals which seem to multiply on their own, and tell her that she can keep 5 or 6 and the rest need to go to children who don't have toys.  And I let her pick the 5 or so that she wants to keep.  She goes with me when we take them to the shelter.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • Sun, Dec 21 2008 10:46 AM In reply to

    Re: Giving to charities without spending money

    I do a couple of things no one has mentioned yet - I give blood regularly (when I went in last week, they told me I was up to 68 pints), and I buy grocery gift cards through the school where I work; they buy them in bulk and receive a discount on the price, the money goes to fund everything from glasses to physicals to field trips to school supplies for kids whose families can't afford them, and I pay face value for the certificates, so it costs me nothing, and, since I get paid once a month, helps me to budget my grocery money in a way I'm unlikely to spend on other things, as the gift cards are only good at the grocery store.  I've tried the envelope system, and I would take money out for other things when I needed it, leaving me short for grocery money toward the end of the month - this works a lot better for me, and benefits the kids I teach at the same time.
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