Wondering how to give to charity without money coming out of your ears? My answer is VERY CAREFULLY.
If you visit this space often you have probably figured out that I’m pretty much a bleeding heart. I care about a lot of things, and it often gets me down to think that I can’t make more of a difference when it comes to the causes closest to my heart. I want to be everywhere, to give everything, to “walk the walk” so to speak. But the truth is that there is only so much of me to go around, and during this particular season of life it can be tough to find room in my schedule or in my budget to help out.
I believe that generosity is an important part of living a happy life, so I’m always looking for ways to share that fit within our budget. Today, I’m sharing some strategies and ideas that have worked for my family over the years.
Make Small Monthly Contributions
When millionaires and billionaires donate huge amounts of money to worthy causes it sure does sound impressive. But when you think about it, small donations made from more modest incomes are just as special. And when you add them up, they can make a big difference too. We make $5.00 per month donations to three of my favorite charities on a monthly basis. This allows us to donate a portion of our income regularly without putting too big a dent in our bottom line.
The charities I’m giving to right now are:
- Circle of Health International (providing care to women and babies in the most dangerous places on Earth)
- Southern Poverty Law Center (fighting against bigotry and discrimination)
- Earth Justice (fighting for nature conservation and climate action)
Shop With Charitable Brands and Businesses
If I have to choose between two similar products, I try my best to spend my money on products that also donate to charity or support causes that are important to me. This isn’t always an option, but it is something that I keep in mind – especially when making big purchases.
The following sites and articles can help you find brands an businesses that are in line with your ideals.
- 51 Popular Companies that Donate to Non-Profits
- 25 Ethical Brands That Give Back With Each Purchase | Sustainably Chic
- 35 Awesome Socially Conscious Companies That Give Back | Influence Digest
- 36 Charitable Companies That Actually Give Back | BuzzFeed
- Fair Trade Certified (Brands and products certified to be fair trade)
- Top Organization Contributors | OpenSecrets.org
Earn Rewards for Charity While Shopping Online
There are a few different plugins or extensions for your desktop browser that allow you to earn money for charities and non-profits as you shop online. The great thing about these programs is that they don’t cost YOU an extra penny. Check out the following programs for details.
Keep a Stash of Non-Perishable Food and Drinks in the Car
Every time I pull up to a stop light and have nothing to share with the homeless person staring back at me I feel like a little piece of my soul curdles up. Obviously I can’t hand everyone I see in need a pile of cash, but I CAN keep my car stocked with inexpensive snacks and drinks for folks in need. In my backseat I keep a case of bottled water and a bulk box of granola bars. When I meet a panhandler while driving, I offer them one of each and hope that this little bit helps. This tiny action feels especially important with my four year old watching from the back seat.
Throw a Bake Sale
Not to toot my own horn, but a local group of bakers and I have raised more than $60,000 over the past five years with charity bake sales. Our sales have always been geared toward disaster relief, but you can use the same model to raise funds for any cause you want. In fact, I have a huge pile of information to help you get started over on my pet project’s web site. The Big Bake Sale for Social Justice is something I’ve been wanting to get going for a while now. One of these days we’ll get it off the ground. For now, please feel free to use the resources I have shared there to run your own charity bake sales.
If you have more time on your hands than money, a great way to help fight for what you believe in is volunteering. This is how to give to charity without money getting involved. You can volunteer to help out in person, join a phone bank, or even volunteer remotely with the help of the internet. No matter what your skill set is there is almost certainly an organization out there that could use your help. Visit VolunteerMatch.org to find an opportunity that’s right for you.