Tips for Charitable Giving on a Budget

March 21, 2011 | Posted By: April Kunzelman
There are two main ways to give: money and time. Money, if you have it, is easy. Itís 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. Thereís 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 Ė 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 canít 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 personís life by doing so. What greater good is there?

If you donít 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. Itís 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 itís 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 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. Donít overlook your local animal shelters. They often need toys crocheted, etc. touts itself as ďthe microvolunteering network.Ē Online volunteering for busy people, they connect various professionals in copywriting, web design, social media, fundraising, and more to nonprofits needing assistance.

Remember itís never too early to get kids involved, even if itís as simple as sorting through and donating toys theyíve outgrown.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. What are some of your ideas?
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March 21, 2011 | Posted By: lpickles
Great post, April. I loaded my 3-year old in the backpack and had her point to litter for the Great American Cleanup - an easy way to teach kids about volunteering. I hope to take them to a soup kitchen to volunteer for the holidays too.
March 25, 2011 | Posted By: bachrach44
Another idea, although it won't work for everyone. give stock. When you gift stock you get the tax write off on the full value of the stock, but you're not responsible for any capital gains taxes. If you own stock that has appreciated, you will experience a better tax benefit by gifting the stock than the cash.
March 26, 2011 | Posted By: maxjaffe
Great post; there are MANY ways to give and it makes the heart feel real good. When you give, you receive multi-fold.
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