How To Donate To Charity When You Don’t Have The Cash

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If you are like me, you want to donate to charity.

This isn’t because it’s one of the more common tax/money-saving tips out on the web.

It’s not to get a t-shirt or some other swag.

It’s not even to be able to brag about “how much I donate to charity”.

At least I hope not.

Hopefully, it’s because you, like me, simply don’t like seeing other people suffer.

But what happens when times get difficult financially?

You can’t donate to charity if you don’t have the money to do so.

Or can you…?

That’s exactly what we are going to be covering today:

How to donate to charity when you simply can’t afford to spare the cash.

Being Cautious When Donating to Charity

Glass jar with white "Donate" label stuffed with $100 bills to donate to charity
There are plenty of ways you can donate to charity without having to give cash, and they can be more fulfilling.

Before we get into the bulk of this topic, I want to touch on an important subject.

This is actually another, albeit separate, reason to not donate cash to certain charities.

Personally, I like to know how my money is being used by charities.

You may simply want your charitable contributions to serve a specific purpose.

Sometimes, getting an answer on how your donation is being used is like speaking in symbols.

Some instances are just a matter of not trusting the charity.

The American Red Cross’s purported misappropriations of donations don’t help.

Alonzo Mourning Charities and other celebrity foundations are worse.

They spend money flying and setting up celebrity friends with fancy accommodations.

In these cases, the news is very disheartening and can cause one to lose trust in those organizations.

Then, of course, some have the desire, but not the monetary means to donate to charity.

That’s not rare.

Fortunately, we have other ways to donate to charity without ever touching your checkbook or wallet.

Donating Unused Or Unwanted Items

Clothing and bath goods folded on a white lacquer table and in a cardboard box to donate to charity
Going through your house to find items that you don’t want or need, or haven’t used are ideal items to donate to charity.

I can’t imagine anyone not having stuff just sitting there collecting dust in a:

  • kitchen cabinet
  • pantry
  • closet
  • garage
  • or even a storage unit

Homeless shelters can use clothing, bedding & bath, and kitchenware in addition to donations of canned goods.

Libraries are always welcoming donations of books, and toys (they sometimes take non-educational ones as well).

The Salvation Army, Goodwill, AmVets, and many others will take everything mentioned above as well as household goods and sporting equipment.

If your kid outgrows his clothes, and you don’t know anyone who can use the hand-me-downs, why not collect them to donate to charity?

You can give them to a shelter so that another child doesn’t have to walk around in rags or poorly fitting clothing.

If your diet is working really well and you lost so much weight that your clothes don’t fit, why not give them to a second-hand store so that people with less can get some use out of them?

Look in your closet: does everyone really need everything that is being stored there?

What about those off-season bins?

Is everything in those going to get used?

Give them away so someone else can enjoy the comfort of having something soft between their feet and the concrete or something warm to fight off chilly nights.

Donate Your Time

Woman deciding to donate to charity by joining Habitat For Humanity to build a home
You can be social, get fresh air, and donate to charity all at the same time by joining a group like Habitat For Humanity.

This is perhaps the most valuable and welcome thing that you can give to another.

It’s also my preferred method of giving to charities.

There are so many options that it’s staggering to think that some people can just sit on a couch all day doing nothing when they can be out bringing a smile to someone’s face.

There are just so many ways to help others, it should be easy to find something that you can do.

Just off the top of my head, I can come up with:

  • Serve meals at a soup kitchen
  • Visit a retirement community and spend time with the elderly who have no family
  • Volunteer at your local sports complex working the vending areas, coaching kids’ sports teams, or helping to maintain the grounds
  • Join Habitat for Humanity and help build homes for those who cannot afford them
  • Partner with the United Way or Make-A-Wish Foundation and help make a sick child’s dream come true
  • Get involved at your local library or with the school district and volunteer to help people learn to read
  • Volunteer at a local hospital
  • Volunteer at the local ASPCA or animal shelter–the furry ones need some love too
  • Go to your place of worship and simply tell them that you want to volunteer for whatever they have going on
  • Sign up to be a Big Brother/Big Sister and influence the life of a youngster

With any of these endeavors, you will make an immediate impact on someone’s life.

Sometimes, all it takes is seeing their eyes light up or the smile that comes across their face when they see that someone is actually taking the time to visit, help, or teach to make it all worthwhile.

Donate Your Services

Woman working at a soup kitchen to donate to charity handing food to a needy man
You can use your skill(s) to donate to charity–whether it be feeding the needy, giving haircuts and/or manicures, treating illness, doing taxes, and more.

Are you a doctor or nurse practitioner who has some free time to donate to charity?

You know, using your training toward helping people at the free clinic or your place of worship?

Maybe you are a tax preparer or accountant who can offer to donate some time to help the less fortunate get their taxes done.

Barber, hairstylist, nail tech, or other beauty industry worker?

Shelters and religious organizations offer job assistance for the homeless and veterans who need help getting their patrons cleaned up and presentable.

Teachers are needed to help with adult reading and ESOL programs all over the place.

There is a multitude of situations where services can be given to those in need.

Of course, you can still take the tax deductions on your income tax return for the miles you drive or certain out-of-pocket costs that are incurred to accomplish your goals when it comes to donating your time.

The deduction is just like cash, though, in that the organization must be an IRS-recognized charity.

As with any tax-related issue, you should consult a professional, but if you are a do-it-yourselfer, IRS Publication 526 is where you want to look for guidance.

But, that shouldn’t be the primary reason to donate to charity, however.

You should genuinely want to do it, to make a difference in the community in which you live and work, and to make an impact on someone’s life.

That is what being part of a community is truly about after all…or at least it should be.

Wrapping Up

It’s really quite clear: you don’t need money to donate to charity.

There are plenty of other ways to help others.

Some of those things, as we’ve already discussed can have lasting impressions on people.

You may also inspire others to donate to charity as well!

If you ask me, some of the non-monetary methods can actually put you in a better place, too.

Your Turn

What is your preferred method to donate to charity: tithing, random cash gift to various charities, or non-cash methods? Have you given your time or skill to a charity before? Which do you feel enables you to make more of an impact?


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