Wednesday, November 29, 2017

7 Ways to Help Charities Even If You're Broke

We're entering the season of simultaneous spending bonanza and serious desires to give back to others.  As much as you want to give more money to your favorite charities for Christmas, it's entirely possible that your budget is stretched to the max right now.  The good news is that you can still help without giving cash.

Of course you know that you can always volunteer your time instead, but here's a few other ways you might not have thought of:

Amazon Smile.  Amazon Smile is similar to a blogger using an affiliate link - it costs nothing extra to you as the consumer, but from every purchase you make, a small portion (few cents on the dollar) is donated to the charity of your choice.  Just pick yours when you first sign up, there's over a million to choose from!  It might not seem like a lot of money, but if you're always shopping on Amazon, like most people are, think of all that money from everyone added up - it makes a huge difference.  Once you set it, you never have to think about it again, it will automatically happen when you shop, all year long.  All you need to do is put smile in front of amazon, so it reads in your browser.  

Walk For a Dog by WoofTrax App.  This is my personal favorite and Hawkeye and I use it all the time.  It's a free app for your phone.  Just sign up and pick the animal shelter you'd like to donate to - we donate to Red Door here in Chicago, which is where Hawkeye is from.  When you walk your dog (or take any walk at all, you do not have to have a pet for this app to work!), you turn the app on and it tracks how far you walk/run - on an iPhone 6 or higher, it tracks treadmill time too.  Like Amazon Smile, a few cents donation is generated for every mile you log, which is added together with other people walking for your same shelter, and then paid out each donation period directly to the shelter.  Again, individually it doesn't seem like a lot but it costs you nothing, and the more people you get walking for your shelter, the more money is paid out to them.  The app Charity Miles works exactly the same way, in case your charity of choice isn't an animal shelter.  (But it should be.)

Donate Air Miles.  Several major airlines have programs where you can donate any un-used miles you've accumulated to the Red Cross to help volunteers and staff get to the affected areas that need disaster relief.  You can also donate your miles to the Make a Wish Foundation, which will use those miles to help the kids and their families travel to their wish destinations.

Donate Kitting Skills.  I don't have any knitting skills, but I know a lot of you do.  Download the free patterns and get knitting on a blanket for shelter animals.  They also have some no-sew projects on there!  You can also make baby blankets and booties.  This man knits sweaters for penguins, I cannot even handle the cute.

Free Kibble.  Every day you can log onto Free Kibble and answer a little (easy) trivia question and right or wrong, 20 pieces of kibble are donated to animal shelters.  Once you click your answer to donate there, you'll see links to do the same for cat kibble and cat litter.  It takes 30 seconds to do all of them, I do it every morning.  Free Rice works similarly - you get asked a vocabulary question and for every one you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program.  About 5 millions grains are donated this way, daily.

Donate a Photo Put the abysmal amount of photos you take to get a good one for Instagram to good use.  Download the free app, pick your charity, and upload one photo (of anything, barring being gross but you know, selfies, pets, nature, 10,000 coffee cups, whatever) per day, share it on the app, and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1.  Per photo.  DO IT.  If you have time to use a SnapChat filter, you have time to donate a photo.  My current photos are helping veterans access mental health care, and I can pick new causes all the time.

Donate Blood and Plasma.  Fewer blood drives happen in winter months, but blood is needed year round and only has a shelf life of 42 days.  There are blood donation centers everywhere, so this is an easy one to check off your holiday to do list.  You can search for places to donate plasma and platelets as well on this site.  Costs you nothing and you'll even get a free cookie and juice.  Wins all around.

I hope this list helps you give back a little bit more this season!  Did I teach you about any new ones?  Which will you try first?

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