According to the Atlas of Giving, Americans donated $417.8 billion to charity in 2013, the first time that figure has ever crossed the $400 billion mark. While that’s great news, unfortunately it still leaves plenty of folks in need. If you have the ability to give more, the simple truth is that you should – even if that means donating your time, instead of your money. Get started by checking out these six ways you can be more charitable.
1. Volunteer Your Time
Your time is just as good as your money. Although you might not be able to write it off on your taxes, it’s still a great way to help out people in need.
Can you volunteer your time at a soup kitchen? Becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister? The many ways you can donate your time are virtually endless. If there’s an upcoming music festival in your town, see if it needs volunteers. You might be able to watch the show for free and help out at the same time just by selling tickets.
2. Text Donations
Plenty of charities and charitable organizations now offer the ability to make a donation via text message. You simply text a code to the appropriate number and the donation amount is added to your monthly cell phone bill. For a list of charities currently running text message donation campaigns, visit the website Mobile Giving.
3. Give Away Rewards Miles
If you use a rewards credit card, think about giving those rewards away. Rewards miles can be donated, for example, and points or cash back can often be directed to a charity of your choice. Each rewards program is different, so check with your provider for details.
4. Participate in Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter used to be reserved mostly for entrepreneurs needing funding for a startup, but charities and individuals in need of financial assistance have recently entered that realm. Check out Kickstarter or GoFundMe and look for organizations or everyday folks you might be interested in helping out.
5. Skip Garage Sales and eBay
Selling items at garage sales and on eBay doesn’t usually generate much revenue, especially for used items. Try simply donating them to a local IRS-qualified organization instead. You can save yourself time, and generate a tax deduction to boot. Get a receipt for your donation and be sure you list each item you give – for help valuing your items, see the Donation Value Guide at The Salvation Army website.
Research the Internet for runs, walks, or any other group activities in your area geared toward raising money and awareness. You may have to go door to door to drum up support, or simply pay a registration fee. If you can find some charitable activities like this, you not only donate your time and money to a good cause, you can get yourself in better shape, too.
Before you think about giving more, make sure your finances are on firm ground and that you have solid time management practices in place. You’d be hard-pressed to contribute more cash with credit card debt nagging at you, and if your personal life isn’t well-organized you probably won’t be able to volunteer your time very effectively. Sometimes, the ability to be more charitable can be realized with nothing more than a good, hard look in the mirror.
What ways have you found to be more giving?
By Tony Harris
Tony Harris writes about shopping, charitable giving, and lifestyle topics.
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