Posted on May 11, 2015
10 Ways to Give on a Budget
This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon. Shopping through it won’t cost you any more, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence.
Several years ago, I was moved to make more of a concerted effort to be a giving person, and I wanted to encourage our children to be people with generous hearts, who were willing to share with others. We were already giving through our church, and by small monthly donations to 3 charities (Tearfund, Release International, and International Justice Mission), but it seemed that we could be doing so much more. How would we be able to give more, when we were already on a very tight budget? I read the book How to be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 No Cost Ways to Live a Generous Life which gave me many ideas I was able to use, some of which I had to search online for a UK alternative. I also found various blogs with good suggestions on ways to give to others while spending little or no extra money.
Here are 10 ways to give on a budget that we still use today:
1. Cook for others– Make meals, cakes or biscuits (cookies) for those who are elderly, unwell, pregnant or people going through difficult circumstances. I have been blessed by others who have done this for me many times. Buying disposable food trays to keep in your cupboards for such an occasion means the person you are giving to doesn’t have to wash or give back your dishes. It almost goes without saying that giving your time to spend with the people you are delivering these gifts to is also precious, if the person wants that.
2. Write to or on behalf of others– This involves the cost only of writing materials and a stamp. I have always liked to write letters, and have sent advocacy letters since I was an older teenager, although not during very busy or stressful times.
You can write directly to people needing encouragement, for example to sick children through organisations such as Post Pals, sending Christmas cards to armed services personnel through Support Our Soldiers, or to those who are unjustly imprisoned or persecuted, through organisations such as Release International or Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
There are many charities for whom you can write advocacy or campaigning letters, and many of these also now have options to send emails or petitions online, in which case it will cost you nothing other than a few minutes of your time! A few examples would be Release International (UK version of Voice of the Martyrs), Open Doors, Barnardo’s, and Baby Milk Action (who campaign against misleading advertising by formula companies, and promote breastfeeding).
3. Do your own fundraising– This could be in the form of sponsored events, such as the Push the Pedal event for Gospel for Asia, that I mentioned in my post Encouraging Our Children to be Outward Looking, home-based coffee mornings, or tabletop/ garage/ car boot sales etc. Many charities provide materials to put on your fundraising event, such as posters, sponsor forms, flyers or invitations. We currently keep a coin jar for Barnabus Fund’s Children of Courage Campaign, which we and the children fill with spare change.
4. Sew or knit for those in need– Until recently, I thought that it was no longer possible to send homemade items to help others. I was wrong! When I was clearing out for our move last year, I discovered bags of knitted squares that I had made when I was pregnant with my son 14 years ago! They had been moved from house to house in various boxes since then, doing no-one any good whatsoever. I did an internet search and found that knitting squares or ‘pillowcase dresses’ to send abroad is still possible through organisations such as Knit a Square, in South Africa, to whom you can post your knitting directly, and Dress a Girl Around the World who co-ordinate sewers around the world who make ‘pillowcase dresses‘ to give to little girls who would otherwise never own a new dress.
Also, NICU units at some hospitals in the UK will still accept handknitted hats for newborn babies to wear, but they may have a specific pattern you have to follow, if you check with them. We did this one year with our homeschooling group.
5. Use Click to Give websites – These are websites sponsored by advertisers, where you may click once a day to show you have viewed the page, and the advertisers will donate to the specific cause. I find that it helps me to remember to do this if I have a routine of always going to my click to give websites when I first open the internet browser on my laptop each day, before I do anything else. Some examples of click to give websites are Care 2 – Help Children in Need, The Hunger Site and Hungry Children. Free Rice is an advertiser-sponsored online spelling quiz which will donate 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Programme for every correct spelling answer you give.
6. Search and shop online to give– Instead of using Google to search the internet, I use a UK site called Everyclick, which donates 1p to Release International, for each search I make. They also provide Give as You Live shopping, which donates a percentage of whatever I buy through their site to my chosen charity, and Easy Fundraising is another site that does this, or you can do it through Swag Bucks, then donate your points to charity.
7. Donate your online points to charity– Top Cashback, Swag Bucks, Nectar – you can donate the points you earn through all of these to charity. I tend to donate my Top Cashback earnings to charity if they are less than £1, but save them to buy books or larger items if I have earned more.
Promotional points collection schemes, e.g. Cokezone, Nescafe, McVities, Yeo Valley, PG Tips etc also allow you to do this. As I mentioned in my Ways Our Family Saves Money post, I use my earnings from doing online surveys to buy books for our family, but you can choose to donate survey earnings to charity through most of the online survey companies. You can also donate a proportion of any items you sell on ebay to charity.
8. Recycling for charity– Currently our family recycles ink cartridges or mobile phones (the ones we have broken 🙁 ) for Mission Aviation Fellowship, through Recycle4Charity but there are many other charities through whom you can do this. Obviously you can also donate any unwanted clothes and household items you have to charity shops.
9. Donate your hair! – Two of our daughters have donated (some of) their lovely long hair to the Little Princess Trust, which accepts donations of hair to make into wigs for children who have lost their own hair due to cancer treatment. This could also be in the ‘do your own fundraising’ category, as the Little Princess Trust will also accept money from those who have been sponsored to cut their hair, which pays for the costs of having the wigs made.
10. Make gift bags/ care packages for homeless people – We have only done this once, as we had just moved out of our house, and in with my parents last Christmas. The previous year, I saved items throughout the year in ‘ziplock’ type freezer bags, which we gave to homeless people while we were Christmas shopping in Dundee. You can really choose whatever you want to go in the bags, but we included mainly travel-size toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrush and samples or promotional packs of toiletries etc. which I had received. We also put a Christmas tract in the bags too. One lady I spoke to said “this is just what I have been wanting- a toothbrush”. Makes our ‘tight budget’ seem extravagant, really.
Links to other ideas for giving and helping others:
Sheri Graham’s excellent series on How to Make a Difference When You Are a Stay-at-home-mom
100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference from We Are That Family
Help from Home is a microvolunteering site that has literally hundreds of ideas for ways to give to others, from home.
‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Obviously our family is not using all 10 ways to give on a budget all of the time, but they are a variety of ways in which we are able to give to or speak up for others, even if we do not have a large amount to donate, in monetary terms. Living in Scotland, we are still residents of one of the richest countries in the world, and I never want our children (or myself) to think that we cannot give to others when our budget is tight.
Do you have a good idea for giving to others that I have not covered? What is your favourite way to encourage your family to be generous? Please let me know in the comments section.
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