Giving to charity doesn’t require a lot of disposable income. If you want to make the world a better place, you can still contribute without cutting a big check.
Here are 13 ways to give to charity on a budget.
1. Donate Your Time
Many charitable organizations survive through the efforts of volunteers. Volunteering is a worthy way to contribute to your community and can be just as valuable as cash donations.
“Donate your time,” says Karen Hoxmeier, founder of MyBargainBuddy.com. “Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, senior centers, hospice facilities, big brother/big sister programs, and animal rescues all need people to help out by being physically present and volunteering their time.”
2. Donate Your Skills
If you have a special skill—such as writing, cooking, or photography—consider offering your services pro bono. Many charities, nonprofits, and advocacy groups have specialized needs but can’t afford dedicated staff.
3. Give Blood
Donating blood to organizations like the Red Cross is free, doesn’t take much time, and might even land you a cookie. More importantly, your donation could help save someone’s life—approximately 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the US.
4. Donate Your Stuff
Many charities and nonprofits accept donated goods, including clothes, shoes, furniture, and cars. If you have some stuff to get rid of, consider giving it to a good cause rather than throwing it out.
5. Organize a Drive
If you have the time and enthusiasm but not the money, consider organizing a drive to gather donations for an organization. “Organize a food drive at your work, at your child’s school, or in your neighborhood,” says Hoxmeier. “It just takes one person to get the ball rolling and head up [a] food collection/drop-off.”
6. Raise Funds
You can raise funds for charity in many ways—by organizing a local collection, sharing your favorite causes on social media, or participating in a sponsored walk. If you have a network of caring people and some hustle, you can raise a hefty donation.
7. Shop at the Right Places
In the age of corporate social responsibility, many businesses donate part of their proceeds to charities. For instance, AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to a charitable organization of your choice, and Whole Foods gives you the option to donate your five-cent reusable bag credits to a local organization. Check with the merchants you shop at regularly to see if they offer opportunities to donate to an organization as part of your purchase.
8. Employer Gift Matching
Some employers offer matching gifts, meaning they will match some or all of your charitable donations. Check to see if your employer offers this policy and potentially double your donation. If your company doesn’t currently offer this benefit, talk to your HR department about how to encourage the company to implement a matching gift program.
9. Donate Your Tax Refund
By the time you receive a tax refund, it can feel like found money. If you receive a tax refund next year, consider donating some or all of it. Some of your donations may even be tax deductible for next year!
10. Ask for Gift Donations
If your friends and loved ones often ask you for birthday or holiday gift ideas, you can ask them to donate to a favorite charity instead. Many charities make it easy to set up a campaign to gather birthday donations for their organization.
11. Become an Organ Donor
Around 21 people in the US die every day needing donor organs. You won’t need your organs once you pass away, and becoming a donor is free. Simply register with the National Donate Life Registry and designate your donor status on your license or state ID.
12. Donate Your Credit Card Rewards
Rewards credit cards will often let you donate your cash back, points, or miles directly to charity. Even if that isn’t an option, you may be able to redeem your rewards for cash back and simply donate those funds once they land in your account.
“Most credit card companies allow you to do this directly from their website. Simply log in to your account, go to the section to manage your rewards and look for a charity link,” says Hoxmeier.
13. Get a Charity-Focused Credit Card
Some credit cards are specifically designed for charitable giving. Check out our list of charity-focused credit cards to find one that works well for you.
Giving back to your community is important, but so is sticking to your budget. Luckily, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Start by trying out these thirteen frugal ways to give to charity. Then visit our Personal Finance Learning Center for more tips on managing your personal finances.