Being generous when you're broke

5 Ways to Donate Without Spending Money

by Cristin Frank


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It may seem that every time you turn around someone is asking for a donation, especially around this time of year. Bells are jingling, charities are calling, and solicitations are coming in the mail. But before you drain your budget on your favorite causes or guilty obligations, consider other options for donating that actually bring a positive result for you as well as those you are helping.

  1. Donate Your Talents: We all have special talents that can be put to work helping others. By donating your talents, you get to do something you love and share it with the community. Crafty talents like woodworking and sewing can be put to good use creating and fixing things for local charities. Got a knack for words? Writing grant letters or fundraising brochures can reap big rewards for those in need without cost you a thing. Other charitable talents are baking, graphic design, photography, and tutoring. There is a benefit for you, too. When you are doing something you love, it relieves stress and creates positive emotions that improve your overall health.

  2. Lend Large Items: You don't have to give away what you have to be generous. When it comes to personal assets, it's not all about cash in the bank. Personal property can be shared and borrowed. Think about large items you have like your home, land, truck, or trailer. Could your backyard host a charitable gala? Could you lend your vehicle for transporting and delivering goods? Everything from a lakefront cottage to an industrial popcorn machine can be lent out, creating profits or money savings for charitable events and auctions.

  3. Give Blood: Did you know you can save up to three lives each time you donate blood? Very few donations can have such an impact on the life of someone else. It's a donation that does not cost anything but an hour of your time. The other personal plus is your blood will be screened for diseases every time you donate (every eight weeks).

  4. Donate Unwanted Goods: We all know that one man's clutter is another man's need or something like that. But seriously, the old computer taking up your closet space could be put to good use at an area non-profit. Or the DVDs your kids no longer watch could stop collecting dust and be enjoyed by group homes and community centers. Look around at what's hogging space in your house like unused equipment, clothes, electronics, or furniture. You benefit from regaining storage space in your house while schools and other non-profits get useful tools and supplies. And, if you happen to live in the Chicago area, check out Zealous Good, a website that connects people with excess items to local charities with matching needs. They've matched everything from an open bag of dog food to a church organ.

  5. Coordinate Collections: Many organizations offer opportunities for individuals to volunteer their time as project coordinators who solicit and gather donations. Now you're on the other side of the donating equation. So instead of you squeezing out a small amount of money or donating a few supplies, be the one who spear-heads a campaign to collect from others. This type of volunteer opportunity is optimal for those with great social networks who can spread the word to multiply efforts and exponentially increase donations.

Cristin Frank is a lifestyle blogger and founder of EVEofREDUCTION.com, and author of Living Simple, Free & Happy: How to Simplify, Declutter Your Home, and Reduce Stress, Debt & Waste. Cristin's mindset is always on saving money by using your talents to reduce consumption, stress and maintenance in life.

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