Skip to main content

How to Give to Charity When You Don't Have a Lot to Give


Talking about our charitable contributions is not something my husband and I do a lot of. For us, it's mostly a private matter, but we do like to promote the charities we support. When you don't have a lot to begin with, supporting a charity is not always as easy as writing a check.

Giving to charity, however, doesn't have to be about money. Charities need physical items -- new and gently used -- and you can supply these with a little shopping savvy.

My first tip may be obvious to most deal-hounds, but it wasn't always to me: Sign up for store mailing lists left and right and use those points and coupon offers to shop for charities.

It's so simple, and I find, really fun and fulfilling.

My husband and I favor women and children's charities, such as W.E.A.V.E. and the Sacramento Children's Receiving Home, both of which have wish lists of needed items. At Christmastime, they have gift wish lists. It's important to check wish lists as charities list what they don't need or do not accept -- toy weapons, as an example.

Since we don't have children of our own, we especially love toy shopping. It's the perfect excuse to browse the toy aisles and pick out the Barbies, Hot Wheels and Nerf footballs we kind of still want for ourselves.



I get the best deals from Shop Your Way Rewards (Kmart and Sears) and Kohl's. (Is it not kind of like Christmas whenever those $10 off a $10 purchase postcards come in the mail from Kohl's? I've received three in the last two months.)

Just as an example: I recently had a SYW offer for $23 off a footwear purchase of $23 or more at Sears. By shopping the sale, I got three pairs of toddler shoes without spending a cent of my own money. The order would have normally been over $40 -- ridiculous for tiny toddler shoes, no matter how stinkin' cute they are.

It may sound a bit off, but Victoria's Secret is another great store to use for charity. For one, charities need bras and underwear, but also, with those $10 off a $10 purchase coupons they send, you can buy their bubble bath/body wash/shampoo combos and only have to spend a few bucks of your own money. The charities we give to request name-brand bath products. Bath and Body Works and JC Penny send out similar coupons.

I also find that these store freebies and great deals help remind me to give year-round, and not just at Christmas.

To keep the store emails under control, I sign up with my Gmail account, so everything automatically gets filtered into one folder. I also sign my husband up to get double the deals.

Signing up for Freecyle and watching the free section on Craigslist are also smart ways to collect gently-used items for charity.  

Yard sales and estate sales are full of treasures charities need. The best time to shop a yard sale or estate sale is at the end of the day when the sellers would rather give everything away than pack it up or haul it back into the garage. Arrive prepared with bags or boxes to fill with clothes and small household items. Do a sniff-check to ensure the items are not from a smoking environment.

Some charities will even upcycle your old furniture for profit. We gave away a well-used Ikea arm chair to West Coast Mastiff & Large Breed Rescue. The charity turned it into an adorable dog bed for resell.

With store freebies, Freecycle, Craigslist and yard sales, it's really easy to give to charity when you don't have a lot to give.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 Tips for Packing Early for a Move

I think I'm having the most organized move of my life, and that includes all future moves. I should be; this move is taking forever to actually happen.

The tenants at my future home stopped paying rent over two months ago, and apparently that's how long it can take to evict someone in California. It's a frustrating saga I won't get into it.

I thought I would, however, share some of my tips for an organized move, especially tips on what you can do well in advance of actually moving.

1. Create a box or basket of moving supplies. You want one place to hold packing tape, scissors, your labeling pen, etc. You also want an organizational system for all the pins, pens, screws and batteries you'll come across. (Make sure to separate the working batteries from the dead.)

I like to use little jewelry boxes and small plastic containers to hold these items.


2. Tackle the garage (or wherever your junk space is).

Our garage is tiny (smaller than a standard one-car) and packed. It…

Halloween Decorations: How to Stuff a Life-Size Michael Myers

Michael Myers is our grand finale of decorations, the big kahuna.

The Michael Myers tradition started our first year in our first home.

Aaron had the brilliant idea of stuffing Michael and placing him in my office window, which faced the yard. You had to walk right past the window to get to our door. You couldn't miss Michael; even people driving by on the street would slow to check him out.

On Halloween, Michael amused many and frightened some. A few groups wondered out loud if he was real. Suddenly Michael would move (thanks to Aaron hididng in the office) and screams would ensue.

Eventually, Aaron closed the blinds, quickly un-stuffed Michael, stuffed himself inside and hid behind the front door. I would answer and Aaron would creep out or jump out. More screams.

The next day, we had a knock at our door. A group of kids asked Aaron if he could put the costume back on and chase them. But of course!

The group waited outside, expecting Aaron to come out the front door. He snuck…

Outdoor Oasis: How to Turn a Futon into a Porch Couch

I refer to my back porch as my outdoor oasis, not because it's the most beautiful or detailed, but simply because the furniture is comfortable and the atmosphere is peaceful. It's where I go to unwind, relax and read. And now thanks to a recent project to turn a futon into a porch couch, I have the ultimate reading and napping spot.

Last year, I wrote about getting rid of my busted up outdoor furniture, updating the salvageable and buying a futon to to use as my new outdoor couch.

Shortly after I painted the $20 queen-size, solid-wood futon with outdoor white paint, I got busy getting ready for my move and never updated with the final result.



I love it.