Surprisingly Easy Ways You Can Support Charity
Supporting a charity can be surprisingly easy. For example, last week, I helped the Denver Parks & Recreation to improve an inner city park as part of a service project associated with a professional conference. During the course of a couple of hours, the playground area was made safer and the grounds were readied for the fall and winter. The effort was minimal for me, but the impact overall was significant.
You may want to further the mission of a charitable or non-profit group, but don't have lots of time or money to give. If so, lend a hand to those who are orchestrating events, overseeing service activities, and raising money to fund projects and programs. By supporting their efforts, even in seemingly minor ways, you can help make a major difference in the community. (See also: Giving to Charity Is Great. But How Do You Pick One?)
Notice requests for volunteers at home, school, and work. Respond to the needs that inspire you and allow you to reach your goals while helping others.
Participate in One-Day Service Projects
Professional groups, churches, and schools often organize half-day or day-long events that focus on one major project or a handful of ones from which people choose. Your efforts may benefit the local environment, a food bank, or a homeless shelter.
Volunteer Through Your Company
Take advantage of employer programs that encourage volunteerism, place you with local agencies, and give you time off during the workday to serve in the community.
Get Your Family Involved
If your kids (especially teens) want to support a charity through service, accompany them or help make arrangements for volunteer activities.
Sign Up for Special Events
Organizers often need volunteers to assist with event-day activities. You may be able to snag bonuses like free meals or a pass to festivities.
Some projects can be done online in your free time. For example, you might help a local charity with online communications or assist with a project through Sparked.com.
There may be a few frustrating moments when trying something new. But volunteering, especially for simple and short-term assignments, can be a meaningful way to get involved with the community, expand your professional network and circle of friends, and develop new skills without overcommitting yourself.
Hang out with friends in real life and/or online while supporting a great cause. Consider these ways to socialize for a mission.
Eat Out With Friends
Head for the barbecue, pancake breakfast, or spaghetti supper sponsored by the fire department, neighborhood school, or local civic group. Patronize fund-raising meals with friends to support a good cause without spending too much money. If you'd rather enjoy more elegant surroundings and a fancier meal, dine at restaurants on nights that they donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.
Follow Charities on Social Networks
By following or liking groups on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and sharing their stories, you can help raise awareness of certain causes and specific projects.
Organize Activities Using Social Media
Harness the power of your online connections to help people in the real world. For example, a friend learned about an inner-city agency's need for school supplies on Facebook and posted about her plans to collect items; within a week, she received donations from her friends and helped to make sure that area children had what they needed to go to school.
Don't expect that all of your friends will be as excited as you are to support a charity. Collaborate with those who have similar interests.
Get Rid of Stuff
Be supportive by donating items that are needed by a charity for reuse, repurpose, or sale. Declutter, get a tax deduction, and support a cause. Goodwill is a great destination for many things but also consider these ways of turning your old, extra, or unwanted stuff into treasure.
Contribute to a Yard Sale
Give clothes, household items, etc. to an organization that is holding a yard sale. Watch for announcements requesting donations or hold stuff for groups that host community sales on a regular basis.
Redeem Rewards for Charity
You may be able to redeem or transfer points associated with bank card or shopping rewards programs to support a designated charity. Turn points into a cash donation or help a charity purchase an item (from the rewards catalog) for its operations.
Give Books to the Needy
Many charitable organizations accept books and either distribute them to children and families or sell them to generate funds. Check out this list of groups that can put your book discards to good use, or donate PaperBackSwap book credits to a needy school or military group.
Take Nice Items to a Consignment Shop
Some shops have donor programs in which proceeds can benefit a cause selected by the owner or the charity of your choice.
Before you drop off a trunk-load of discards at a group's office or service site, find out if your favorite organizations can benefit from your items. Sorting through loads of stuff to find one or two things of value isn't worth the trouble for most charities, so be discerning about what you give to help rather than hinder.
Get the stuff you need and want while supporting a charity. Proceeds might benefit local schools and youth organizations or global efforts to relieve hunger, provide employment for the economically disadvantaged, and clothe children. You can go shopping for a purpose in the following ways.
Snag Bargains at Yard Sales
Because items are donated, the full amount of your purchases (rather than just a small percentage) typically goes directly to the charity.
Patronize Retailers Run by Charitable Organizations
Some charities operate retail locations such as a gift shop or farmers market. Shop where proceeds benefit a cause or charity that you want to support.
Use Discount Coupons
Department stores often sponsor charity days that benefit area groups. Buy a coupon and then get discounts on purchases throughout the day or during specified hours.
Buy Stuff That Kids Are Selling
If proceeds benefit a cause that you are passionate about, then buy the fruit, candy, cookies, popcorn, giftwrap, etc. to support the charitable organization. Sadly, most are overpriced but a few — like the citrus fruit sales — are good deals.
Shop for a Social Mission
Buy Wish-List Items
Many charities have items on their wish lists, which might include baby blankets or basketball goals. If you would rather not give a monetary gift, shop for and then donate wish-list items.
Shopping to benefit charity can mean spending more than you would otherwise. Stuff that kids sell, for example, often costs significantly more than items sold at a traditional retailer. Scrutinize offers so that you can save money and support a great cause at the same time.
Support charity fund-raisers by participating in local athletic events. Proceeds from entry fees benefit sponsoring organizations or designated beneficiaries, consisting of local groups or area chapters of national organizations.
Here are some of the events that you may find enjoyable.
Run a 5K
If you’ve never run a race, perhaps contributing to a cause will inspire you to get ready for your first 5K. If you’ve already tackled that distance, consider higher-mileage races that benefit one of your favorite charities.
Take a Walk
Do a charity walk with friends, family, and/or co-workers. Join a team or start your own group.
Go on a Bike Ride
Look for charity rides in the spring, summer, and fall. One-day events will often have a variety of routes from which to choose, ranging from 10 to 100 miles. Multi-day rides are usually more challenging and may require you to raise funds in addition to paying an entry fee.
Participate in a Triathlon
A triathlon may be on your bucket list, so competing in one may accomplish a life goal and support charity.
Do Something Extreme
Extreme events, like this Extreme Hike for Cystic Fibrosis, are put on by organizations that also offer assistance with training and fundraising.
Entry fees are not cheap, often ranging from $25 to $45; that amount typically includes food, drink, festivities, and goodie bags with a water bottle and t-shirt. You may also have to raise a minimum amount of money to participate. But, if you enjoy a challenge, look for events that support your favorite charities.
You don't have to organize a huge project or make a major gift to make a difference. By noticing what is happening in your community and getting involved, you can support charitable causes locally and worldwide.
What is your favorite way to easily support charity?
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