If You Have Money to Spare, Donate to Charity

Now that my husband and I are more financially secure, we’re developing a plan to donate money to charity monthly. We’ll choose 3-4 charities and rotate the money between them. Most charities are suffering right now due to the failing economy. If you have a little spare cash or creativity, you can find ways to donate to charity even in tough times. If you don’t already have charities selected, visit Just Give or Charity Navigator to find worthwhile charities. Use GuideStar to check them out completely.

Donate, But Donate Less
If you used to donate $500 a year to charity, see if you can give at least $120 this year. Set aside $10 each month to donate to a charity in bulk at the end of the year (or split between two charities). That works out to $2.50 a week. Unless you’re really living hand-to-mouth, you can probably spare that much. Skip one McDonald’s lunch in favor of a homemade sandwich and you’ve saved your weekly portion of the donation.

Look for Change on the Ground
Most people will walk right by coins on the ground. Pick them up – with a tissue if you’re worried about germs. You’ll quickly find that the money adds up.

Don’t Spend Coins
I got out of the habit of spending coins when I had to start saving quarters for laundry. My husband and I recently bundled up all our coins and discovered we had over $70! If you stop spending coins, or at least not spending the pennies and nickels, you’ll quickly gather enough for to help a charity. Take your change to a Coinstar machine to donate directly through the machine, or roll it up and take it the bank so you can send a check to a charity you support.

Use Coupons for Free Food
Collect grocery coupons and then watch the stores for great deals. When you have the chance to do a buy 1, get 1 free or buy something that’s free after coupon, buy it and donate it to a food bank. Food bank donations are down 40%, just when they have thousands of extra mouths to feed. Please help if you can.

Click to Give
If you absolutely can’t spare a dime and don’t get coupons, then you can donate for free. Try The Hunger Site, which has several causes including hunger, breast cancer, and the rainforest. All you have to do is click and their sponsors make the donation. Care2 offers the same service for a wide array of causes. If you like a little challenge with your donation, visit FreeRice, whose sponsor donates 10 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program for every vocabulary word you get right.

My husband and I plan to donate to the Komen Foundation (breast cancer), the Nature Conservancy (environment), and one other charity we haven’t decided on yet. We also plan to shift our donation when a natural disaster strikes. We’ve already done so with Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami because we live in earthquake country and we know how valuable those donations can be in the midst of an emergency.

As the economy has worsened, have you increased or decreased your charitable donations? How are you finding creative ways to give?

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