Tips for Charitable Giving on a Budget

There are two main ways to give: money and time. Money, if you have it, is easy. It’s also impersonal. You rarely see the impact first-hand. Monetary charity rarely feeds your soul.

Giving time is hard. You give up leisure activities, family, or friend time to volunteer, unless you can convince your loved ones to contribute their time and energy too. If you do volunteer your time and effort, you frequently receive intangible gifts in return. There’s a certain satisfaction to directly helping a person that does feed your soul and replenishes your karma.

For a good number of people, the first thing to go when the budget gets tight is charitable giving – at least in the monetary form. How do you fulfill your obligation to care for fellow humans who need a bit (or a lot) of a helping hand when you yourself feel the pain of a tightening belt? If you can’t fit monetary giving into your budget, or regular volunteering into your schedule, there are other options.

One of the most basic things you can do is give blood. You could literally save a person’s life by doing so. What greater good is there?

If you don’t use coupons, start. Take the savings from your coupon use and put it towards your favorite charity. Even $5 helps!

Donate items you never use anymore. We all have stuff shoved in drawers and the back of our closets. It’s easy to keep a basket in a trafficked area, yet out of sight, like the laundry room. When you come across a little-used or unloved item, throw it in the basket. Once it’s full, drop it off at your chosen charity. One advantage to donating your unwanted items to a qualified charity is a tax write-off. This could add up to real savings on your tax return.

If you shop online, take advantage of cash back and loyalty programs through sites such as FatWallet. When you receive your rebates, send them to your favorite charity.

Collect aluminum cans and recycle them. Ask if you can put out a collection bin at work.

Use sites like iGive.com to do your web searches. Although a penny a search may not seem significant, it can add up.

On your regular shopping trips, put one extra sale item in your cart for your charity. Put that item in your charity basket.

If you travel, take any extra travel-size personal care items from the hotel room (soap, shampoo, conditioner). The hotel intends for you to use these items, so they are part of your bill. Donate these items to local shelters.

Watch for opportunities to use your talents on your own time, in your own home. Many organizations need people to sew, knit, or crochet. Don’t overlook your local animal shelters. They often need toys crocheted, etc.

Sparked.com touts itself as “the microvolunteering network.” Online volunteering for busy people, they connect various professionals in copywriting, web design, social media, fundraising, and more to nonprofits needing assistance.

Remember it’s never too early to get kids involved, even if it’s as simple as sorting through and donating toys they’ve outgrown.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. What are some of your ideas?

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