Friday, June 15, 2007

Free and easy ways to help charities

One of my biggest goals for my money is to be able to help people more. Right now, when I’m in a position where I have a lot of time, but not a lot of money, I’m always looking for creative and low cost ways to help charities. Over the years, I’ve developed an arsenal of ways to help, from the low commitment/low impact to the high commitment/high impact, and have gone in and out of using them over time.

Super Low Commitment

1. Click Probably the easiest way to help charities is to spend about two minutes every day on click to donate sites. These are sites that accumulate sponsors willing to donate a set amount of money to charity per page view, click, or action. The click amounts generally range from about 2 cents per click to about 25 cents, with an occasional temporary click drive that pays up to $1 per click. The original click site is The Hunger Site, which has now expanded to serve several causes, including Breast Cancer research and Rainforest protection. My personal favorite is the Care2 races, which also include a lot of content, tips, and information. When I have more time, I go to this click to donate index and try to click on as many extra sites as I can. I figure every little bit helps!

2. Search I recently discovered a search site called Search Kindly, which uses Google’s engine, but donates proceeds to charity. You can even add it to your search box in IE, making it just as easy as searching Google, but with a benefit to charity.

3. Email For my primary web mail, I use Planet Save Email in place of Yahoo or Hotmail. It’s a free email server that, to me, is just as good as the big ones, but donates a portion of profits to rainforest preservation. They have had a few glitches in the past but seem to have resolved them. Other sites that offer free charity webmail support Breast Cancer Research and the environment.

Slightly More Commitment

4. Donate old stuff Suze Orman and Flylady both say that when you have a yard sale or sell your old stuff, you will never get its value back. When you donate it, it retains its value. This is so true. I take bags of clothes to the Goodwill, give magazines to preschools and high school art teachers, and give books to schools and libraries whenever I see drives.

5. Donate free stuff Through couponing and rebating, I get a lot of stuff for free consistently, particularly shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, and feminine supplies. Once I’ve stockpiled enough of this to last three months, I don’t really want to keep storing it, but I keep buying it and donate it to my local foodbank. Shelters, particularly women’s shelters, often want this stuff too. One homeless shelter in my area particularly prefers travel size shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste – all of which I have in abundance from couponing and from freebies.

6. Clip and save There are many things you can clip and save that may not benefit you but would benefit someone else. The one that comes to mind is Boxtops for Education. Each box top you clip and give to a local school costs you nothing and gives that school 10 cents to use toward supplies. Campbells soup has a similar program.

Another thing you can clip is coupons. Coupons you don’t need, including expired coupons, can be sent to and used by military personnel on base, many of whom live at or below the poverty line.

Stay tuned for higher commitment/higher impact ways to help!


Anonymous said...

There's another nifty charitable use for coupons in my town. Unused coupons are collected, cut out, and stamped with the name of the local senior center. The grocery store lets them tape them to the products, and then if someone buys a product with a stamped coupon attached, the value of the coupon is donated to the meals on wheels program.

MoneyChangesThings said...

It's great to put your money in a community bank, if you have one near you, like ShoreBank. (you can bank with them by mail, but it's a hassle.) Or in a credit union. The idea is that the money circulates in the community and is lent to local folks, not some condo developer in Hawaii.
It's great you're cultivating your generous nature! Lots of frugal folks get so caught up in it that they become hoarders.
Try organizing a clothing swap. We raised a lot of money for Darfur, got "new" clothes and rid of our old ones, and had bags to donate to planet aid. And had so much fun, too!

Anonymous said...

Here's another one that's free and takes very little commitment - you can simply raise money by surfing the net like you normally do. Simply download the browser sidebar at and when you surf the web money gets raised for your cause.

Anonymous said...

Dreamer.Me is a much better overall search service and resource, its also a non-profit and Donate's all of its profits to improving the world.