Ask the Readers: How Do You Give? (Chance to win $20!)

By Linsey Knerl on 26 January 2010 (Updated 2 February 2010) 95 comments
Photo: Wonderlane

*** Congrats to our winners! ***

  • Comment #7: I give in a variety of - Submitted by gt0163c on January 26, 2010 - 13:43.  I give in a variety of ways. 

    I haven't been personally affected by the economic downturn so I decided to up my financial giving to a few missionaries recently. These are people who are personal friends and who I can speak to openly about finances and, in many cases, they are hurting because donations are down across the board.

    I've also done some "cookie packages" for the college ministers. I get together with a few friends and we bake up a bunch of homemade cookies, package them in individual ziploc bags and send them off to the college pastors and interns to give to their students. The responses that I've gotten back have been wonderful. The students love the cookies and the pastors get to say that there are these people who love and are praying for you who don't even know you. The time and monetary committment is small and who doesn't like cookies?

    I also give with my time. I do a lot of volunteer stuff with my church, sometimes in places where others are more hesitant to serve (with the high school youth especially. I love them. Most other people love that there's someone else who loves them in this way).

  • gsusfreek @wisebread I helped at my church by putting in insulation, playing on the worship team. I also volunteer in the community. "#WBAsk"

Will you give more this year? Or are you just in "survival mode?"

Many people are making resolutions to give back to their communities and charitable organizations that have impacted their lives. Others are responding to the calls for aid in Haiti and are finding just a little more in their budget to help the cause. All of this is happening in spite of a down economy, job loss, and tightening budgets. How are we doing it? And are there tips to help others so that they have more to give?

We'd love to hear your tips for giving. It can be ways that you stretch the budget so that you have room for donations, how you stockpile freebies to give to the less fortunate, or how you are giving more of your time and talents during your own time of economic trouble. Maybe you're not even thinking of giving right now — and that's OK, too! We'd love to hear your 2-cents! (We encourage you to link to your own blog posts if you've covered a similar topic on your own site.)

Let us know your stories here in our comment thread or on Twitter, and you'll be entered to win one of two $20 Amazon giveaways. (Yes, that's right! We've doubled our prize money!) Dozens of readers have already won. You could be next!

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate

We're doing two giveaways — one for random comments, and another one for a random tweets.

How to Enter:

  1. Post your answer in the comments below, or
  2. Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Friday, January 29th at 11:59 am CST. Winners will be announced after January 29th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter both drawings — once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)

Good luck!

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Guest's picture
Linden

We have decided to give by lowering our food bill and giving the remaining money to the Salvation Army. We had already decided to do this for all of 2010 but are now focused on Haiti. For Janaury, so far, we have cut our food spending by half!

Guest's picture
Tonya

We've always given 10% of our net income to our church and we also support a child in Guatemala through World Vision. Above that we give anywhere from $20-$100 to various charities throughout the year or as needs arise. It's a big chunk of our budget but since we've always done it that way we don't even think about it anymore. If I find myself thinking how much further our money would go if we gave less, I remind myself how our way of life compares to the way most people in the world live.

Guest's picture
Sushi

I'm currently in survival mode, as I can't afford to pay the rent at the moment, much less give to causes I want to support. Assuming that things do improve this year, then I do plan on giving to the Office of Letters and Light, the organization that runs National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy and the organization which changed my life by showing me that I wasn't the only weird person who liked to write. Besides that, I would give to various other causes as the need and desire arose, and if my alma mater's lucky, she just might also get a share.

Guest's picture
NC for Me

I volunteer at our local animal shelter every week and some weekends I do events for the shelter. We have converted all birthday and christmas presents into charitable donations. Most people really love this idea, it's better than getting more "stuff" they don't need. I read the book "29 Gifts in 29 Days" and I do try to stick with it each and every day. We have donated to several places for Haiti including money for the animals. Every day when I get on the computer, I go to www.theanimalrescuesite.com and make my click count, once I am done there I go across the top to the Breast Cancer, Rain Forest, Literacy, and Health site to make my click count there as well. If I have the time at work I also go on www.freerice.com which feeds people around the world. Once a month I donated to an animal rescue where we got our dog, not the shelter I volunteer. I try to do a box of something they need each month. This month they were in need of collars and leashes so we got 20 collars and 15 leashes to send to the rescue organization. Even if I can't give money I like to try to give something every day. Giving is one of the things in my life that keeps me truly happy. I never knew this much happiness until I started giving.

Guest's picture
Joanna

I'm big on *regular* giving. Episodic giving will make me feel good in the short term, avoiding guilt, but doesn't make the same kind of difference in the long term as sustained relationships with organizations whose values line up with our own. As a bonus, regular giving allows me to carve out space in my budget, rather than getting hit up for big, one-time gifts where I don't know where the money's coming from.

Guest's picture
Guest

I check out charities on charity navigator to make sure that what I do give goes to charities that use funds efficiently.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I give in a variety of ways.
I haven't been personally affected by the economic downturn so I decided to up my financial giving to a few missionaries recently. These are people who are personal friends and who I can speak to openly about finances and, in many cases, they are hurting because donations are down across the board.

I've also done some "cookie packages" for the college ministers. I get together with a few friends and we bake up a bunch of homemade cookies, package them in individual ziploc bags and send them off to the college pastors and interns to give to their students. The responses that I've gotten back have been wonderful. The students love the cookies and the pastors get to say that there are these people who love and are praying for you who don't even know you. The time and monetary committment is small and who doesn't like cookies?

I also give with my time. I do a lot of volunteer stuff with my church, sometimes in places where others are more hesitant to serve (with the high school youth especially. I love them. Most other people love that there's someone else who loves them in this way).

Guest's picture
Kathryn

Like a previous commenter, I also check out charities through Charity Navigator, though I also give to some small, local organizations that I have had personal experience with or that people I know are involved with. I look for matching grants and give to organizations that have obtained them. It's another good way to know that my contribution can go a little further, especially when I can't afford a large amount. I NEVER give to organizations who call me randomly at home, and when I get those calls, I let them know that this is my policy.

Guest's picture
Jen

My credit union allows donations directly from their website which they will take directly from your bank account. After playing my bills I have a little bit left over and I donate to the Red Cross.

Guest's picture
Sara A

Money-wise, I don't have anything to give. But I weekly volunteer my time and find it to be very rewarding. Also, I roll over money from loans on kiva.com that I made when I had more available funds so that I am reinvesting that money even though I can't add new money there.

Guest's picture
michi

I give to the Humane Society. I saw the commercials and they really moved me to become a monthly sponsor.

Guest's picture
sarah

i have been in survival mode for years, but always gave a little - to the church, red cross, heifer, etc. now that i am finally out of credit card debt, i plan to give a bit more to the same organizations.

Guest's picture
Emily

I give little things that I would normally treat myself to. For example, I'll skip my morning trips to Starbucks and then treat my friend to lunch or coffee when we get together. It's not a big extravagance, but it's a little something that shows I care and that I want to do something nice for them, especially since I have a higher paying job than a lot of my friends and don't have as much debt from college.

I also volunteer in my local community and church and participate in other fundraisers and such that organizations and my church support.

Guest's picture
Leo Fair

I don't have a lot of money coming in right now, but I do have performance page views from my old Associated Content articles that I save up in my paypal account to donate. I also do MTurk tasks now and then and save spare change (<-this last one is a bit more effective when one is employed) for a sort of internet augmented change jar. I keep track of it on a semi-private blog which has successfully killed my urge to spend it on other things rather than donating it.

I'm another supporter of NaNoWriMo, and one of the things we're encouraged to do there is use GoodSearch for our organization. There are a lot of charities to search for, so you can use it to funnel pennies to your favorite charity even when you have no money to give.

Guest's picture
Kelli

I always donate at least SOME money to my favourite animal charities every year. I also donate supplies (food, towels, etc.) when I can. This year I will also be doing the Humane Society's Walk for Animals and collecting pledges to raise money for the shelters.

Guest's picture
Mikal

The economy is bad and money seems to be tight everywhere. This makes it hard on some essential services that are donation supported. One such organization is our local homeless shelter. The shelter is relatively new and was established by a lot of people working hard to build and equip it. Now that the need is greater due to economic times, donations have declined. I personally donate what I can in terms of labor, money, used clothing, household objects and such. The great reward to all this is seeing the appreciative faces of those who have fallen on tough times and need a helping hand.

Guest's picture
Pam

At the beginning of each year, I figure out what 10% of my salary is. I then donate that amount divided equally among three different categories -- people, cats (sorry dog people) & my church. Once I know how much each group gets, I divide the church & cat groups by 12 and write them a check each month -- just like paying a monthly bill. The people charities are three charities whose causes I support -- Hunters & Farmers Feeding the Hungry, So Others Might Eat and Pedals for Progress. Every month one charity gets a donation and then I rotate onto the next one the next month. Also painless giving as I know it's scheduled into my budget.

Guest's picture
Chris

We try to give what we can to various charities, including our church. I volunteer my time as needed where ever I can and give items such as knitting and homemade cards where they can be used. We definitely cut back on food and extras so the giving always continues.

Guest's picture
Jennifer B

My family donates money and time every year. In past years the money has gone to groups like the Nature Conservancy. This year we can see budget cuts affecting our local charities and decided to give locally. Our local elementary school got a check to buy books (their budget had been reduced to zero this year) and in the spirit of fairness we donated an equal amount to another elementary school in the district that has more kids in need.

I also volunteer in the library every week and as a family we volunteer at the local food bank.

Guest's picture
Kristy

We're giving more than we gave last year, which was nothing; but we are still just barely making enough money to survive, so we are not giving much this year. I feel really bad about this, but I can't figure out any way for us to live on less than we're doing now. Course, if things change - like, if I get hired on full-time or if my husband gets a scholarship - then we'll be able to give more. That'd be nice!

Guest's picture
jimbo

i am currently in the process of refinancing. i have budgeted the additional savings to miscellaneous donations for disasters that arise (e.g. haiti) and kiva.org.

Guest's picture
Heather

I'm in survival mode. I rarely donate anything unless it's my time/expertise. Instead, I try to do things like buy only from local vendors and keep my community going that way...

Guest's picture
Lisa

(First, have to say.. I love #17's approach!)

This year, in addition to my walking and fundraising for The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, I decided to make a more deliberate and organized effort to give to Goodwill.

I made a New Year's Resolution of donating *something* every week.

This, admittedly, serves a selfish purpose as well as a charitable one -- I really really want to cut down on my "stuff" and simplify my life a little.

The first few weeks were easy... a bag of clothes that don't fit anymore, shoes that I never wear, an extra comforter. Now I'm getting to the point where I have to look for things and talk myself into parting with something. Last week it was a foot spa I keep telling myself I'll use but never do... next week I think it will be a box of books.

It's getting more difficult as I go, but that's also making it feel even better.

Guest's picture
Nicholas

I would like to give but a few very expensive and unexpected events happened during this month and I can't afford to give anything. I will have to wait to see how things pan out for next year.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

We don't have a lot to give right now and have not for the past couple years (or at least as much as I would like to give). We send a check for about $25.00 each quarter to the food bank in our area. I also try to bring bag of groceries to the soup kitchen in our town whenever I can (watch for those BOGO sales at the grocery store).

I also donate to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer & have worked on a rest stop crew for the past six years, this one being #7 in May.

Also at Christmas time we select two kids from the Salvation Army Giving Tree & buy them gifts.

Guest's picture
Selene M.

I stockpile some items to have things on hand to donate. I support a charity-related thrift store with things I no longer need. I give cash to relief and health agencies. I try to do for others when I can. I help with public-service events that support charities (bicycle rides, walks, marathons, etc.)

Guest's picture
Luke Overstreet

This year money is tight, but we have been blessed in other ways and we're not in survival mode. We always have food on the table and a roof over our heads.

I believe in Matthew 8:10 "Freely you have received, freely give." So, my family and I have found ways to serve our community by giving our time and talents instead of money.

I volunteer for the worship team at our church on Sunday, I play guitar and sing.

The church needed insulation put in the ceiling this winter, so I go up twice a week to volunteer my time and help cut the insulation.

I helped acquire and set up the computers for our local library this weekend. And this month I signed up to volunteer for a community soup supper.

There's a lot of little ways you can help your community. You don't have to give a lot of money. Volunteering your time can be a very fulfilling thing to do.

Guest's picture
Bri Dold

My husband and I have recently started paying back our hefty student loans and things have been extremely tight for us, but we do try to give as much as we can, as often as we can.

Besides giving old clothes and things we don't use to the Salvation Army, I like that most stores allow you to tack on an extra couple of dollars to your total for a charity that they support.
It's not much, and we don't go seeking it out, but whenever I have the opportunity to donate a few dollars, I do. I just look at it as part of the grocery/pet budget.

Guest's picture
BRB

I buy food locally from the farmers. I also have a few charities that I find $50 for every few months because I feel that they do good things for the world. Sometimes I give to charities for someones birthday or Christmas gift.

Guest's picture
Jessica Y

We give over 10% to our church, plus more as needs arises. We have been undeservedly blessed this year with a new job for my husband in a cheaper part of the country. I am wanting to increase our giving (possibly sponsor an orphan) as I feel that blessings come with responsibility. To whom much has been given, much more shall be required.

Guest's picture
pam munro

Charity is hard on a tight budget - but because we buy almost all of our clothing and many other items, like used appliances, at charity thrift stores, we believe that we are benefiting by getting deals and at the same time we supporting the works of that particular charity! (Since we patronize many different thrift stores, we help support drug & job programs, the mentally ill, the disabled and other worthy causes.)

We also give what we can at church and we contributed to the Amer. Red Cross for Haiti. Now & then we have made contributions to environmental causes, when we could afford it.

We also have our own personal acts of charity. There is a elderly S. American immigrant lady across the hall, who ekes out a living. We have given her "loans" for medicine when she is short (which are rarely really repaid) - and also given her food, and bags of groceries from our church's foodbank. We also gave our cans & bottles for recycling to an elderly downstairs neighbor who was happy to recycle them for a bit of extra money. I gave an extra winter parka to the homeless lady who used to live on the block where our church is - and we would bring her food from our Sunday luncheons. We also give dollar bills to those out on the street asking for a handout who seem credible - so that they can buy a hamburger or a cup of coffee.

Years ago when I had more time than money - I volunteered for my old college as an alumnae rep - feeling that I was making my contribution that way.

Small gestures. But every little bit can ease the pain of someone's existence.

Guest's picture
Emily

I've often found that the less I give the more stressed I feel about money. There's something freeing about not holding too tightly to money (in a responsible way). I usually try to think about what issues/causes are really important to me and choose a few charities that address those concerns. I prefer giving bigger donations to a few charities rather than spreading the money out too thinly.

Guest's picture
Therese

We put the amount we plan to contribute into our monthly budget.

Guest's picture
Hugh

My fiance and I are getting married in May, so we are on a super-tight budget this year. However, that doesn't stop us from giving. The way we are able to give is by foregoing some discretionary expense in our own lives. For instance, we gave $100 to Hope for Haiti this past weekend. That means we go out for dinner two fewer times in the next month. Haiti is a perfect example: When you see and read what is going on there, you can't help but feel guilty about going out for dinner when those people are starving to death.

Note that this can be done on a much smaller scale, say foregoing your daily Starbucks for a few days. I recommend it to anyone who thinks he/she doesn't have the money to give.

Thanks for the ability to write about such a great topic!

Guest's picture
Bobbi

I save my $5 bills and just give it away. I start over new every quarter. An opportunity usually presents itself to me to just give it to someone in need. Last qtr, I gave to a fundraiser for a friend of my sisters in NC that is battling a serious blood disease. All of the donations helped with the medical bills over and above what insurance covers. Not sure about this quarter as of yet, I usually like to wait to see what or who is in need. Possibly Haiti or a mission in Africa. It isn't much, but I feel more connected than giving it to an organization. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I do that too. Thanks, :)

Guest's picture
Meria

I guess i'm a random giver. If i see a sign or someone needing some money and i have some extra cash i give it.

Guest's picture
Lisa

I also don't have thousands of dollars to give away but do love to contribute annually to several causes.

As far as the Haiti crisis, I started selling things in my Etsy shop and all proceeds are being donated to the UN World Food Program. It's something that I don't need to mail (It is a PDF file) and am offering it for almost half price. This way the buyer gets a good deal and the UN gets money to help Haiti. All I had to do was share the information! :)

To help locally, I buy weekly loss-leader items on sale in bulk at the grocery store and give part of it to the local food bank. I also make packages for the homeless with things like granola bars, juice packs and other items I get for free or cheap.

There are many stray cats in the city where I live as well as in the outskirts, so I give money to the independent animal shelters who get less funding than the larger ones.

Small contributions are very helpful, even just $1 towards a cause can mean so much to an organization. :D

Guest's picture
Debra

We give 10% of our money to our church to be used for various purposes. Also, we have several opportunities to help that are presented to us through our church: things from bringing food to families who have recently experienced death or other life-changing events, sitting with church members in hospitals or their homes when they are home-bound, community clean-up projects, etc.

We have a big plastic tub at the end of our hall we fill with donation items all year long and donate to a local thrift store as it gets full.

I'm unemployed and looking hard for a job, but I have decided I can still donate my time to various local causes. I help out where needed, but I'm in the process of setting up something through a company (or two) on a more consistent basis.

We donate to back-to-school and food drives and purchase Girl Scout Cookies also. I occasionally donate to the college I attended.

And I look for opportunities to give to church members, friends, and neighbors as well. I have delivered cookies and birthday cards to 7 people in the past few days just to let them know someone was thinking of them.

One thing that helps me be able to give is to stock up on small items when they're on sale-- things that would be useful for back-to-school drives or birthday gifts, etc. I build the costs of those items into our budget (and I stock up on several food items when they're on sale so I'm not a slave to the grocery stores and their sometimes unpredictable pricing). Plus, I use coupons.

Guest's picture
Charlotte Prescott

I try to give something to someone every day. I get back far more from it than I've ever given. With finances being extraordinarily tight right now, I often find myself visiting http://www.freerice.com/ and giving 100 grains of rice. No action is so small as to be entirely insignificant.

Guest's picture
K

I used to buy extra and donate to our local food bank all the time and I never thought I would end up on the receiving end, but did when a family member without insurance or income was in the hospital.

Everyone I know is out of a job, including myself, due to store or branch closings. We help each other out as we can, but not able to give like we used to.

Guest's picture
saudade

Love these comments! I like Linden's idea of lowering her food bill and then donating the savings to charity. I also like Emily's idea to skip a treat for herself and take a friend out to lunch. A little bit can go a long way!

I work in a nonprofit CAM clinic for low-income women with cancer (www.charlottemaxwell.org), and I'm really big on the fact that anyone, regardless of income, can be a philanthropist. Not to plug my blog, but I have talked it about this extensively: http://saudadecrux.blogspot.com/search/label/philanthropy. The things I like to do and recommend to friends most often range from the free, like Goodsearch (web-surfing that generates revenue for nonprofits), to capitalizing on things you may buy anyway and feeding two birds with one crumb by being mindful and discriminating of where you buy your everyday goods and gifts. Need a gift? Buy from a place like Rwanda Baskets, an organization that helps Rwandan women become more self-sufficient. Dining Out For Life is also a really good national program where you can help to support AIDS service organizations by simply doing you would normally do and go out to eat.

Guest's picture
Shirley

I have a line item in my monthly budget for charitable giving. Having charitable giving budgeted helps me plan for it every month.

But I'm the happiest when I can give my time. My dog is a certified therapy dog and we have visited nursing homes and children centers. I don't know who enjoys it more: the nursing home residents / kids, my dog, or myself! This past Thanksgiving was the 2nd time I helped feed the homeless and less fortunate in our community. It was a humbling experience and enjoy doing it every year.

Guest's picture
Lori

I have noticed that the best way for our family to be regular givers is to budget the amount we want to contribute to various causes/church. We sponsor a child through Compassion Int'l. and that amount is deducted from our account monthly. Church offerings are budgeted at the beginning of each month.

With the recent disaster in Haiti, we made contributions to 2 separate charities that we feel will use the money wisely. We will also be making donations of material goods at our sons' school that will go straight to a Haitian orphanage.

I shop loss leaders/extreme coupon deals at the local grocery chain and donate all surplus to the food bank hosted at our church. During the summer months, much of our grocery budget goes to local farmers at the farmers' market. They are not a charity, but buying their produce means more green space is preserved in our area and the farmers are able to earn a sustainable income.

In all of these ways, giving has become a routine for our family and doesn't feel like sacrifice. Instead, we feel blessed to be able to help folks who need "a hand up." God loves a cheerful giver.

Guest's picture
Mary Martin

Once we discovered stockpiling food and HBA items purchased for little to nothing through the use of coupons and sales, our giving habits changed tremendously. Each month, we donate at least four to five bags of food and an equal amount of health and beauty items to our church's efforts to help those in our local community. Hopefully, we will be able to give even more this year since my "couponing" talents have improved with time.

Guest's picture
Riptide

I started years ago when my bank went online and started to offer online bill pay. No matter what I tried I could never save enough to give what I considered a decent amount or what was asked for in the phone calls or mailers.

I made the commitment to donate a little from every paycheck and to do it locally. I started small. I picked 3 non-profits in the area and set up automatic payments of $5 each every week. That was $15 a week or $30 paycheck. That was almost $250 a year for each organization that they wouldn't have received otherwise and no one has turned me down.

In the years that I get a cost-of-living increase (as an educator we don't always get those) I immediately up the donation by $1 for each organization. I don't miss it and I notice the deduction at the end of the year.

Guest's picture
Debbie M

I use www.justgive.org to make anonymous donations. They take 3% off the top for administrative costs (a lot less than my employer does for a similar program), but then the organizations do not waste a lot of money and resources begging you for more.

I donate 10% to fight poverty, abuse, and the destruction of the environment. It is not easy to choose good charities. I started by trying to think of the worst problems that could actually be aided. Then I tried to find organizations that could succeed efficiently. I'm still not overly confident in my choices.

I also donate 1% to causes that have affected me (such as public TV and the local wildflower center).

I don't make time to contribute my time to any organizations other than the ones that help me (such as work organizations and the local ballroom dance club). But I used to teach first aid and CPR and be an assistant scout leader, and I plan to do some tutoring when I find more time. I don't think these are the most important issues, but they are what my skills best match.

Guest's picture
aylaeh

i give in several ways. first, while i can't always give of my money i *can* always give of my time. my employer also donates money to non profits when i volunteer a certain amount of time per year. i volunteer at various places, a local radio station, a large teen convention, etc. i do also donate to world vision monthly.

Guest's picture
Kaylea

We have a monthly budget for giving, and participate in monthly donation programs for various groups we believe in. I think monthly donations help an organization be more efficient in their fundraising and planning, which in the end adds up to our donation going further. Our budget is a little more than our monthly donation totals, so every now and then after some funds have built up, we talk about a good recipient organization.

Guest's picture

My husband and I really wanted to make giving a part of our holiday season, but like many people, we're working hard just to pay the necessities. No matter our struggles, we know there are people in worse situations and we still wanted to find a way to help. As we were thinking about how we could come up with the money, we realized we probably had friends in similar situations. We often use the "coin jar" method to save up loose change, so we thought we would take this idea one step further. We hosted a holiday party where instead of gifts, everyone brings whatever change they can spare. Even if it's only a quarter stuck between the couch cushions, everybody's quarters can add up to make a great impact.
We ended up raising $149.47- not a lot, but so much more than we could have come up with ourselves. And a whole lot more than nothing! (We then donated it to our favorite charity on behalf of everyone)
(I wrote about it in 2 posts: http://sideofsneakers.com/2009/11/30/fill-the-cup-campaign/ and http://sideofsneakers.com/2009/12/06/christmas-charity-success/)

Guest's picture
Betty

Although I don't have large sums of money to give, I do give whenever I can throughout the year.

A few times a year I donate cash to childhood cancer. I'm blessed with a healthy child.

I often get free items at the supermarket using coupons. These get delivered to a local food pantry. Thankfully, I am well fed.

During the holiday season, our group at work collectively give to something. Last year was a local foster home, this year we chipped in and one woman made blankets for our soldiers. Thankfully, we are warm and have beds.

I also adopted a rescued kitten this year. For him I am thankful, but honestly this one was purely selfish. I love him to pieces!

Great idea for a contest!

Guest's picture
megan

There are a few charities I support each year. In the past, my support was always monetary, but as my finances have gotten tighter I now am volunteering more of my time to supplement the monetary support.

Guest's picture
Guest

My family gives financially a tithe/offering to our church. We also like to pitch in and help those around us when we can. This seems to be a very hard season right now....and we aren't able to do much to help anyone (ourselves included).

The cost of living has skyrocketed and having 3 teenagers will set you back.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

I prefer my giving to be personal so I will be doing care packages for a neighbor I know who is struggling this year. It's hard with all the need you see to pick out who gets the limited resources available. I figure though that I start with those I know to help make a difference.

Christine
dazed1821@AOL.COM

Guest's picture
SC

i give money to my church, alma maters, friend's fundraisers (like team in training), and areas that have been affected by disasters like haiti

Guest's picture
Adrienne

I'm doing biweekly transfers from my checking account to SmartyPig, and at the end of the year I'll have a decent amount to donate to one charity. This year I'm trying to avoid all of the smaller, one-off donations, and really try to focus my charity dollars on one organization that I believe in.

Guest's picture

Last year was more survivial mode for me. Since I have stemmed the tide of rising bills, this year, I have committed to not only giving my budgeted amount for the year, but making up the shortfall that I had in 2009. I started off catching up by donating to the people in Haiti

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Guest

Money has been tight since we retired. Until we moved to the boonies we gave by volunteering time to civic organizations. Now I use points accumulated on My Points to give to Haiti Relief, Red Cross, USO, etc.

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I give mostly thru my local church, which is a Methodist church. Besides financial support, I volunteer as a referee in Upward basketball and with a program called Interfaith Hospitality Network. This is a local network of 14 churches who open up their churches during the week to host a group of families who are trying to get back on their feet. They stay at the church using the facilities and the thru the program they get assistance to put their lives back in order.

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Mariel Martinez

We all give, one way or another... Some of us give time to others by sharing our pressence and our acts... Some give advice... Some go and buy something for someone... Some give money to certain organizatios and/or people... Some just donate stuff they already have... I think the issue is do you give to people who are in real need, or just give no matter what, or, do you give what is actually needed?

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Tiffany

For a few years we have tithe 10% to church from our regular income. But we also hold back 10% of any extra income (bonuses, tax returns, misc) and put that money into a "Benevolence" account. Then, when we see a need arise, such as a friend going on a mission trip, a disaster in Haiti or even someone who is been hit hard financially and needs help, we can give from our fund. This way we have flexibility to give to those in need without touching our giving that goes to furthering God's kingdom. We will probably end of giving more this year than we ever have before.

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Susanne

When we can we buy food items for our local food pantry, Faith in Action. They also provide clothing and toys to those in need, all free of charge, so we donate those items as well.

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Guest

I'm in survival mode. With a husband unemployed for over a year and two kids in college, I'm watching my pennies. Maybe in the future ...

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brian

I like to give at least 10% to my church, and at least $2000 to charity, I find that the more I give the more I really do receive. It's not just a catchy slogan, it's really worth it to give more no matter how bad the economy is in my opinion.

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Christie

This past year, we had several financial setbacks which resulted in an almost 20% drop in our income. But at the end of the year, I found that our charitable giving had remained almost the same as the years before. We believe in honoring God with what He has blessed us with and giving to those in need of a blessing. It has been a wonderful thing for my family to support people and ideas that we believe in and I'm glad that we chose not to cut out the giving, but things far less important like eating out at restaurants instead. I have to admit I've missed eating out, since we only did it about once or twice a month and it was a treat, but the good one can do giving far outweighs any "treat".

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Julie

I love to budget and know exactly where my money is going. I also feel very blessed. My husband and I spent six months without a steady income while he searched for a job, and when he found one, I decided that we were going to give back as much as we could.

Even if you can only budget in $10 a month to give to someone who needs it, at least you're trying. Then you'll see that you can live without that $10, and maybe try giving more.

My motto is to give to the people closest to me first though. If your parents or siblings or children are in need, help them out first before anything else. So half of my budget goes to help my aging mother so she doesn't have to work so hard.

One more idea. This year, I decided to start knitting mittens at the beginning of the year so that when next winter comes, I'll have a bunch of them to give away to children who truly need them.

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Amanda C

My husband has been unemployed for almost a year now. We have very little extra money right now to donate to charity. We did give a small amount to the Salvation Army this year. I have been giving away baby toys, clothes and the baby bed my son just outgrew to people who needed them. We also donate food to the local food bank several times a year. I am able to get food items for very little money sometimes through the use of coupons.

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Jill

I haven't donated anything lately except used clothes and shoes to the salvation army. Times are hard and money is too tight right now to give. I am using reward points and coupons and sales to purchase gifts for family members and everyday needed items at huge discounts. I would love to help out more but my family can't swing it right now, especailly with a new baby.

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Leslie

Some people have large bank accounts and therefore are often limited with smaller volunteering accounts. Others have large volunteering accounts (time) and smaller bank accounts. The world needs both; and both are equally as important. We are blessed with larger volunteering accounts, and thus work as a family with church and community giving. We also have been working on recycling and reducing thus ultimately giving back to the planet and others! Do it joyfully and you'll get back more than you realize!

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O

Besides our regular budgeted giving, I've been trying to skim a bit off our grocery money and set it aside. This has allowed us to give to people with specific needs anonomously. An older friend confided in me a month ago saying God has been providing, and that a deacon gave her a cash envelope out of the blue just when they needed it. We kept talking a bit, and then it hit me, that was the cash we gave them. How cool is that? Usually we don't find out the outcome, unless we share from our pantry or do hand me downs, so it's encouraging to know what you do makes a difference.

What's clear from the comments is that people are trying their best with what they've got. Keep it up.

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matt

We give to Am. Heart and Am. Diabetes Associations. If the kids give we will match their contribution dollar for dollar.

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Debbie

I am trying to do more where I donate my time and not money. I meet with a woman in a nursing home each week as a friendly visitor.
I have payroll deduction through work for United Way.

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August

if it were up to me, I'd probably be in survival mode right now (just made a cross-country move, have a bit in savings, but am currently unemployed), but my fiance is generous as they come. he recently had us stop and buy a wheelchair-bound man a baby bib set he couldn't afford from Ross, and I can't tell you how many dollar bills for the bus we've given out.

I want to have a PB&J in my purse at all times, to give to the homeless. I'm one of those people who loves giving, but would rather not just hand out cold hard cash.

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AndyM

*I* give to the Dyslexic Kittens Association, the Paraplegic Puppies Fund, the Swordless Ninjas Benevolent Society, the Pirates without Peglegs Global Network and the Fish-Out-of-Water Federation.

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Christy

I like to give to the animal rescue groups where my pets came from. The rescue groups really need the help and do such a wonderful, tireless job helping the many discarded animals in our city.

I also donate to a mission which feeds the homeless and also to public radio which I enjoy.

To stretch the giving dollar, I donate to the organization, then file for a "matching contribution" from the company where I work. This effectively doubles the donation to each organization.

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Erin

Giving of your time and money are equally important. When you can't help out physically in a place that has been devastated like Haiti, send money! If it would be more beneficial to give your time to causes locally (soup kitchens, big brother/sister, etc) then do that!

We personally give 10% to our church and sponsor a child through Compassion International. Since we paid off the car and paid for the last semester of DH's tuition, we have started saving an additional $200 per month for "missions." This typically will accumulate for mission trips but if we find out a family needs something, we use this money for that also.

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Guest

We give a set amount (%) of our income each paycheck and that way we never even see the money so we don't miss it (It works much like our savings plans where we just automatically set aside a given amount each week/month.

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Julie R., MO

Currently in survival mode, but I will donate good used clothing this year to local consignment shop that benefits the school children in my community and I will donate numerous health and beauty items from my stockpile to a local women's shelter. There will also be several local food drives where I will donate at least a case of canned vegetables each time.

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We often give baked goods like cookies, brownies and other treats. It's a cheap way to say thank you to your local fire department, friends and neighbors.

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Jane H.

...so I tend to give time to service-related projects more than money. That said, I try to donate at least some money each year. My favorite is Frosty's Friends, an organization that lets you buy a kid some presents at the holidays.

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Sherry Bullen

My husband and I always talk about the importance of giving because we truly believe all are created equal and human life is precious. However, we never found an organization "perfect enough" to make a donation to, or we told ourselves that given our current financial situation it wouldn't be responsible to donate.

We decided last year that we needed to start putting our money where our mouth is and donate anyway.

So, our tip for giving? JUST DO IT. Don't wait for the perfect organization or when you have "money to burn." Give $20 or $50 or $100 when you feel compelled to give. Does a commercial tug at your heartstrings? Give. Is a service you patronize having a fundraiser? Give. Is an organization that works for a cause you care about asking for help? Give.

We probably gave away $500 our first year using this method, and we haven't missed one cent. The debts we have been working to eliminate are still getting paid down quickly and we still enjoy our previous comfortable lifestyle. We plan to stick with our "don't think about it, just give" approach indefinitely, and we'll probably be giving more next year.

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Carmen

We have just continued giving as we have other years. We probably won't send money to Haiti because it's not in our very-tight budget, but at this point we don't plan on decreasing our charitable giving.

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p

I am more about donating my gently used items or "freebies" (as mentioned, the sample/trial size personal care products). Waste not, want not, I guess. I just feel (slightly?) paranoid sending money to some charities and not knowing exactly to what purpose it is being spent.

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babelfish81

I try to give a little whenever I stumble across a fundraiser in the grocery store or gas station. Usually donations are just a dollar, like buying a "shoe" for Juvenile Diabetes or a cross for the Red Cross, or a dollar for a local food pantry. I also give my time as well to our local Rural Services center, which provides access to programs for our local poor population.
One of the joys about working for a not-for-profit health care center is that I feel like I'm constantly working to help the uninsured. Yes, I do get compensated for this, but far less than I would if I worked elsewhere.

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Guest

I am a widow living on a low income but I don't want to give up "giving". I sponsor a "foster child" every month. That fits into my budget. But in December I donate to several more charities. The way I fit this into my budget is to try to "save it back" in January and February. I spend the absolute minimum necessary to pay bills and buy groceries. No extras. To make sure I don't give in to being enticed by an irresistible bargain - I don't go shopping. And for entertainment I catch up on books I've wanted to read, watch tv, and visit friends. And maybe catch up on a little housework I've been putting off.

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We don't have an income right now, and it's been off and on for the last 3 years.

However, we have still found ways to give.

One of the things I have done is to teach others in my area how to garden. I regularly have free garden tours and teach about what will grow here. Many people think they can't grow anything in the desert and are surprised when they see all that we are growing (and eating!) from our garden.

I also have a website dedicated to helping others live on less.

If you don't have any money to give, here is a list of things I've put together that you can give:

http://theprudenthomemaker.com/helpingothers.aspx

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sylrayj

We give 3 canned goods to the food bank every week, doubling it during the food drives. On a weekly basis, it doesn't cost us much, and I know that people are hungry all year, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When the earthquake struck Haiti, I sorrowed, and donated as usual to the local food bank. I know that people all over are digging deep to help Haiti, and I don't want to neglect our regular contribution and leave perhaps a neighbour without enough food to get by while trying to find a better job.

There are also click-to-donate sites - I know they need paying customers visiting the ads of their donors to pay for these clicks, and I'm not normally one of them, but I do what I can, as I can.

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Guest

at my library teaching adults to read. Money is tight on one salary and a kiddo due in March but time is something I always have.

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Cheryl

I am a believer in the " give and get it back tenfold" school of thought. I give of my time/talent via volunteering throughout the year, which costs me nothing but time and a little gas. I do give monies as well, but am particular to whom I give to. I gave to Haiti, my company matched all donations so that was a way I could stretch my dollars to help. And, I recently gave to the SPCA when a friends parent passed and they asked for donations in leiu of flowers.

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Andrea

My husband was laid off about 8 months ago, but his unemployment just ran out, and I just started working after being out of work for a little over a year. We're still in survival mode, and likely will be until well over a year after my husband starts working again, whenever that will be.

I would give time if I had it, but right now, I work full time, then pick up errands and freelance in my spare time. There's currently a food drive at work, and while I've tried to consider what 1 can of food I could take to the drive, my husband astutely pointed out, "We're 2 steps from going to the food bank to get that back."

So yeah, just about keeping eyeballs above water. And it's really hard, because we usually give time and money to targeted organizations we hold near and dear to our hearts. I see it as collecting on some of the karma we've put out there over the years. Let's hope next year is better.

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Penelope

Christmas 2009 I started giving everyone's "present" as a donation in their name. As a present to the whole family, I sponsored a child with World Vision for us all to write to and bond with. I made a donation to an animal shelter in a friend's name as her Christmas present. I made another donation in a New Orleans friend's name to a local charlity to help rebuild there. It was a hit with everyone because it was personal and also so positive. Also, I use coupons to maximize savings and freebies on grocery and personal care items and donate them to local shelters. Closets get cleaned out and donated to Goodwill a few times a year. It's second nature to give and every penny I save with coupons allows me to give more. My husband just got in on the spirit of giving for the first time with the Haiti crisis and I'm so proud of him for getting in the spirit of sharing with others.

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Cathy

We're giving a little less this year.

We've chosen just one charity to give a larger amount (past years 4-5 causes, but less money each.)

During the Christmas season, I kept the change from any purchases in my coat pocket for the Salvation Army bellringers - they got whatever was in there! (It was also easy not having to fumble around in a purse in the cold!)

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Katie

Thankfully my company always me to give a percentage of my take home pay to several charities. This money is taken out of my paycheck before I even receive it. This makes it much easier on me not to count on that money.

It isn't a lot, but it is something.

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gina

Unfortunately, my giving in 2009 was NOT what I wanted it to be due to my debt. I plan on getting out of debt this year so that I can give more to my favorite charity.

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Guest

I clip tons of coupons each week, even ones I doubt I will use. Besides participating in a coupon swap, I keep certain coupons I am pretty sure will yield big savings on particular grocery items. With double and even sometimes triple coupons, I am able to get certain food and personal hygiene items for under a dollar, even free. I then put those in my giveaway bags for local charities and food banks.

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If you want to buy a house, you would have to receive the business loans. Furthermore, my mother commonly takes a student loan, which occurs to be really firm.