Cashless Charitable Contributions

DSC_0011While giving to those less fortunate is always important, the holidays provide a unique opportunity to reflect on our own blessings and to give to others who may not be as fortunate. For the past several years, I’ve enjoyed taking my son out to toy stores where I helped him select two toys, one for a little boy and one for a little girl, for him to donate to children who may not be as lucky to have as many toys as he does. This year, with the adoption of his younger brother (and the resulting accumulation of debt in order to do so), our budget is strapped to say the very least. Regardless, my desire to continue this tradition in some way, shape or form is still just as strong. Fortunately, there are many (cashless) ways to contribute to charity and still make a big difference in the lives of others.

Raid Your Own Pantry to Help Replenish the Local Food Bank

Emergency food banks across the country are facing tough times and empty shelves as more and more individuals are being hit hard by the economy. Take a look inside your own cupboards and trim a little here and there to donate. You’ll likely not miss the few cans taken, but the recipient of your gift surely will appreciate it.
Purge your closets and dressers and donate to charity. Hardship knows no season. The temperature may dip and rain and snow begin to fall, but that doesn’t make it any easier to obtain warm clothing if you simply don’t have the money. If your closet or dresser runneth over, consider simplifying your space and donate the extra to someone who can put it to good use.

Give the Gift of Your Time and Talents

Volunteering costs you nothing but some time and effort and can be a great way to spend quality family time together. Help beautify a local park. Sign up to assist in soup kitchen. Visit a nursing home to make new friends and visit with residents who don’t have friends and family nearby.

Empower Your Kids to Go Good for Others

Encourage them to pick out a few of their own toys that they simply don’t play with anymore but are still in great shape, and help them post them up on Craig’s List free to a family with children. Doing this cannot only help a family strapped for holiday cash, but can help ensure a holiday surprise for a child in need.

Make a Drop in the Bucket even When You Don’t Have the Cash

It’s a horrible feeling when you walk past the bell ringer, reach deep in your pocket or purse only to find you have nothing to drop in the red bucket. Whether you simply don’t have money on you or there isn’t any money left in the budget to give, start finding the money to drop in the bucket now. Carry a small change purse or plastic baggie with you and commit to picking up every penny or coin you find while you’re out and about. Get your kids in on the “treasure hunt for charity,” too. Then, whenever you walk past a red bucket, open up your stash of found cash and drop it in.

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: paul.ney

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

One Response to “Cashless Charitable Contributions”

  1. Evan |  Dec 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I also think people should think about leveraging dollars when gifting. Why only give cash? Why not low basis stock? A life insurance policy? etc