Giving back doesn’t always have to entail your hard-earned cash

Supporting charitable organizations we consider important involves a painful game of Sophie’s Choice: With a finite amount of resources to give away, which ones can we donate to? The good news is, we can support causes and charities in many ways that don’t involve opening our wallets.

Use Your Social Network

Social Media diagramIf you don’t have a ton of cash you can donate, chances are that you might have a friend in a different situation. You can connect those people — the ones the charity needs to reach, ultimately — by posting about, sharing, and tagging charitable organizations. Just spreading their message and indicating your support is helpful, too, especially if they are working from a grassroots perspective. 

In addition to interacting with charitable organizations’ content to spread their message, you can also ask for donations from your social media network in lieu of gifts for your birthday or holidays. Facebook has made it really easy to add a “donate” button to personal posts, and donating through one of those posts is incredibly simple.

Donate Supplies

Donating gently used items or other supplies is immensely helpful to many charitable organizations. Whether they are using the supplies themselves or repurposing them to sell to raise money, it can help lower their overhead costs.

Some organizations hold auctions to raise money, in which case you could donate an object or even your time or professional skills. Not only are you helping them raise money, but you’re also saving them the legwork of tracking down desirable auction items (which is a drag).

Volunteer Your Time

The key here is to think of what skills you can offer readily to a group and then capitalize on that. Some ideas for ways you can volunteer include:Donation box with food supplies

  • Offer web design or tech help if you’re handy with computers
  • Transport animals for rescue organizations
  • Deliver flyers around the neighborhood, or circle petitions to get them signed
  • Administrative assistance, such as working a front desk, answering phones, or doing paperwork
  • Coordinate donation drop-offs or collections
  • If your talents include organizational and people skills, consider putting them to good use in coordinating fundraising efforts. It’s often a time-consuming and thankless job, but it is massively important.

Be Proactive

Speaking your voice may seem intimidating in today’s often highly politicized, volatile environment, but you never know when your words or actions might make a difference. So write to your elected officials. Show up to protests. If safety is a concern then find other ways to support a protest, like making signs, transporting participants, or just helping spread the word. Many organizations rely on people behind the scenes to make the more public manifestations happen smoothly, so you can support your cause in whatever way you feel comfortable.

Sign Up for Newsletters

Digital Newsletter on computer screenOkay, hear us out. We all hesitate to sign up for newsletters because we dread the influx of automatically-generated missives that threaten to overwhelm our inboxes. But if you are selective and follow the charities that you feel strongly about, then it can be manageable. (Also, if you are getting too many emails, sometimes when you click “unsubscribe” it will take you to a page that allows you to select the frequency and subjects of which emails you will receive.)

Newsletters are crucial to many organizations because they are the best way to keep interested people (aka you) informed about the actions they’re taking, ways to help, when supply drives are happening, and things you can forward on social media.

Give Money When You Spend Money

Several online platforms and some credit card companies allow small percentages of your purchases to be donated to charities of your choice. AmazonSmile is one of the more well-known options. If you shop using, they’ll donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to your favorite charitable organization. No fees, no extra cost. Sure, it’s a teeny tiny amount, but over time it adds up to a significant donation (especially if you’re addicted to Amazon, like some people…)

Some credit cards offer to donate either a percentage of your purchases or allow you to use accumulated reward points to donate as well. It’s often simple to sign up for a plan that includes these options with existing accounts, as long as you’re willing to navigate automated voice messaging systems.

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