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Five Ideas for Charitable Giving in a Bad Economy

Written by Nickel - 10 Comments

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Tough economic times are a sort of double whammy for many charities — the need for services spikes, but donations shrink. Not a good combination. While we’re in the fortunate position to be able to maintain (if not increase) our donations over years past, that’s not the case for everyone. With that in mind, I thought I’d list some ideas for supporting your favorite charities even if you can’t afford to make a monetary donation.

Here goes…

  1. Donate your time. Volunteers are the lifeblood of most charities. Consider volunteering your time to help out your charity of choice.
  2. Donate used clothing. Do you have any clothes hanging in your closet that no longer fit? If so, consider giving them a second life by donating them to a worth charity.
  3. Donate used household goods. Got any extra pots, pans, or other durable goods taking up space around your house? If so, why not donate them to someone that will make use of them?
  4. Donate frequent flyer miles. If you have frequent flyer miles sitting around that aren’t likely to get used, consider donating them. Most (if not all) major frequent flyer programs allow you to donate your miles to charitable causes. Check with your program of choice for details.
  5. Donate your blood. What’s more value than the gift of life? Check for a local blood drive and then go donate.

If you have any suggestions of your own, please leave a comment.

Published on December 10th, 2008 - 10 Comments
Filed under: Charity

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. This is a great idea, particularly for the unemployed with more time than money. Giving back is so important, and when you get involved directly like this, it puts in perspective how fortunate you are and how much you really have.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 10th 2008 @ 7:24 am
  2. or an equivalent charity based search engine is also a great way. They donate a portion of their sponsored search revenue to a charity of your choice. There are probably 10 or more charity search engines but is the only one I’m personally familiar with.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 10th 2008 @ 9:08 am
  3. Donate some old toys that you may not use or need anymore. Specifically things that are just laying around that could be used by someone else.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 10th 2008 @ 3:01 pm
  4. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, or can’t afford to, time can be just as important. I’ve recently began working for a local library that was on the verge of getting shut down, due to lack of funds, and in just a few weeks I’ve been able to do some work getting grants, new computers, and stuff like that. It’s pretty rewarding, and helps a lot of people as well.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 10th 2008 @ 5:21 pm
  5. I would suggest making time to update your will to include any of your favorite charities. It’s a little morbid, but really, there is never a better time than the present. It’s one of those things that gets put off too easily.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 10th 2008 @ 5:35 pm
  6. Donate stuff you get for free at CVS/Walgreens/by combining coupons & sales! Those stores “give” me more free toothpaste, etc than I can use in a year, but I continue to collect it because the local food bank/homeless shelter needs more than I can collect! There is absolutely no way we can afford anything more than the barest of bare necessities this year, but I am thrilled to still be able to help others out.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 10th 2008 @ 11:24 pm
  7. You can donate your old prescription glasses to the Lions Club. They have drop off mail boxes. Contact one in your area for drop off box locations. You can put a note in the envelope (with your glasses) requesting them to send you a receipt for your glasses donation. You can write off between 20% – 30 % of their value.

    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 13th 2008 @ 1:32 pm
  8. Donating blood is a great way to give around the holidays (well anytime really!). Blood banks and hospitals are always extremely short on blood around the holidays so when you donate around this time it helps so much!!

    Thanks for the great tips,


    Comment by Anonymous — Dec 16th 2008 @ 12:53 am
  9. Another How to be Charitable on a Tight Budget link with some different ideas:

    Comment by Anonymous — May 3rd 2009 @ 6:27 pm
  10. At you can click to get corporate donors to give to help feed animals, give books to needy children, fund mammograms, protect rainforests, feed the hungry and provide health care for children — and it takes mere seconds. If you want to improve your vocabulary while “earning” rice for third world peoples, go to — I do it with an online dictionary open so I can “be right” and get those grains of rice! For more of the same sort of opportunities, go to

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 4th 2010 @ 7:58 pm

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