Charitable Giving on the Cheap

As a one car family sustained by a single income, it is all too easy to forget that there are always those less fortunate than us. Our limited funds prevent us from giving what we’d like right now, but, where there’s a will, there’s a way. We are still able to give generously, even while on a tight income. Here are easy some ways to be generous on a budget.


#5 Work the Web

Whether it be donating your online survey points to a worthy cause through sites like or, or if you prefer to use as your search engine of choice (a penny per search does add up!), there are countless options that enable you to give to your favorite charity. Many of them are easily implemented into your daily routine too!

#4 Put Your Unwanted Stuff to Good Use

This tip doesn’t just apply to giving away “experienced clothing” to places like Goodwill (although that’s a great option…and tax deductible too!). It is also applicable to—dare I say it?—your trash. If going green to save money is your thing, or you want to go above and beyond mere recycling, check out From dental floss containers or plastic diaper bags, you may be surprised what can be rescued from the landfill and “upcycled.”

Sending in trash that is hard or impossible to recycle is almost always free—just join the site, sign up for the “brigade” of your choosing, print off the free shipping label, and send ‘er in. You never know—your trash may become that plastic park bench you see, or your neighbor’s back pack! The best part about this site is that, for every qualified item you send in, you earn two points, which can be redeemed for a payment to the charity or school of your choice. All. For. Free.

#3 Bone Marrow Donation

If you are under age 45 and healthy, this is another free and fabulous way to give. (People between 45 and 60 can still sign up, but have to pay a tax-deductible fee). If you are in good health, and meet just a few other requirements, you have the potential to save a life. Once you sign up at, you will be sent a buccal swab kit (fancy word for “cheek swab”). After that information is entered into their database, you are in there until age 61 or unless you ask to be removed. Although you may never be called upon to donate your blood marrow, the possibility is always there that you may be called upon to help save a life. Visit for more information.

#2 Donate Blood

No cheek swab needed, and the need is always there. Don’t let a needle phobia keep you from this quick and easy way to give to those in need. As an added bonus, more and more blood centers entice potential donors with free meals, gifts, or both. My husband and I have actually made a date night out of blood donation. It’s actually a lot of fun!

#1 Volunteer

Hands down, this is the easiest way to give to a charity in need. Many people tithe their financial blessings. While a wonderful practice, tithing your time is just as valuable, especially in the time-starved society in which we live. Time is money, so whether you volunteer for one hour a month or volunteer several hours, consider your pet cause and take the initiative: volunteer. is a great place to get started. Many of the options can be done virtually as well!

You don’t have to be rich to give generously. Remember: every little bit does make a difference. Give all you can!

Picture by FreeDigitalPhotos.

About the Author

By , on Mar 4, 2013
Amanda is a full-time mom and aspiring writer. When not chasing after her one-year-old or writing, she is figuring out creative ways to stretch a dollar.

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  1. Great post! When I think about donating and being charitable, I often only think about money donations and clothing donations. I don’t often think about blood marrow or actually volunteering. I guess I put volunteering into it’s own category and blood marrow donation is a scary thought. But saving a life is a great cause, if not one better than donating your old clothes to thrift stores where they may not even reach those in need.

  2. Thad says:

    Great and creative ways to make charitable contributions. By definition charities need support. Thanks for that reminder!

  3. Laurie says:

    Love this post! There are always ways to help, regardless of your income level. Thanks for sharing valuable and much needed info!

  4. I used to donate blood through Red Cross. This is simple way of givings but big impact to the needy fellows.

    During college days, I helped also to build house for less fortunate fellow. I applied my engineering knowledge first through the Habitat for Humanity Organization.

  5. Kelly says:

    I’ve actually thought about becoming a bone marrow donor. I’ve heard so many stories about people who need life-saving surgeries, and who have found matches from bone marrow banks. It really is a way to give back and even save a life.

  6. What great ideas! We should never forget there is someone worse than us. Great tips!!

  7. I recently started volunteering every Thursday night and it has felt great! I think I am going to make it a permanent change.

  8. I always feel bad that I never volunteer as much as I want to. I’m pretty sure that this year will be less than last as well with the new bub, but hopefully when he is a little older we can take him with us and teach him about volunteering.

  9. Love this post–I think it’s important for people to give back as much as they can. Too many people just think they have no money or that giving is a practice of the rich. Everyone can make a difference even with small donations, etc!

  10. I made lots of donations of stuff to Goodwill during my previous moves. Someone out there got some really nice stuff. At this point, I think I’ve donated about all that I can.

    I also like to donate time. I volunteered with several organizations in the past and am hoping to continue the trend in my new location.

  11. #1 and #2 are ways I try to pay it forward to others. When I was in college and grad school I didn’t have a lot of money but did have a good amount of time. Giving blood and donating time were things I could do that helped others and made me feel good. A win-win.

  12. Volunteering is great. I’ve done this before on multiple occasions, and find that it can be rewarding and fun at the same time. Sometimes it’s actual time that is needed by charitable organizations.

  13. There are so many ways to give back that don’t cost money. Even if you don’t have a car, you can do phone work or offer to do the books for small organizations. There is always a way to donate your time.

  14. I think I will have to go with volunteering as I used to give blood, but the last couple of times I passed out in front of co-workers and I’ve had a fear of it ever since. Not afraid of needles…I just passed out. 🙂

  15. Volunteering is what I’ve been doing this year to give back, and it really is a great experience. You gain so much!

  16. I used to donate my time at a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, but jobs and going down to one car has made that more difficult

  17. Great post! In my opinion, giving back is a HUGE component of financial success.

  18. Although it is nice to give a financial contribution to a charity, people underestimate how important it is to give back in other ways! I feel like going to volunteer or putting on a food drive is actually more productive and beneficial than writing a check and also more satisfying personally. Seeing the difference you are making with hands on experience is the best way to give back to others and yourself.

  19. I agree with #1! I actually think it is much easier to give money than it is your time. When you give your time you give your expertise, personality, and energy which in my opinion is much more valuable.

  20. Debt RoundUp says:

    I make sure to donate our unwanted items to Goodwill. You never know who might want them. Sometimes I have to remind my wife because she will just throw things out if I am not around.

  21. I am a huge fan of Goodwill because they are all about creating jobs. The way I see it, by donating our items were not only helping out a non-profit, but we are helping to reduce unemployment as well 🙂

  22. Volunteering is huge for charities, and is many times there biggest need. I love seeing this as #1 because many times we think about giving $$ instead of volunteering., forgetting this need altogether. Great post.

  23. Great ideas! I think a lot of times individuals think they can’t give because they do not have the money to. Charities of course need money, but often times they’ll gladly accept volunteering just as much as they would money.

  24. AverageJoe says:

    Timely post. Charitable organizations are always looking for support. Whenever we have people over at our house, we supply the fun and ask people to bring a canned good for our local soup kitchen. Whether it’s the SuperBowl, a birthday party, game night, whatever….people know to bring a canned good. It’s funny–we forgot to ask people to bring a good one time recently and about half of our friends brought one because they thought it was just expected!

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