4. Donate your shopping bargains
You can actually pick up lots of store items — from boxes of tea to bottles of shampoo — for free. How? By combining great sale prices with manufacturers’ coupons, known as “coupon matchups.” Sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady and Coupon Mom help you spot freebie deals at your local stores. Donate nonperishable food items to local food banks. Shelters and churches love getting personal-care donations like shampoo and toothpaste. Many of the items are used to create personal hygiene kits for homeless individuals.
5. Shop with philanthropically minded retailers
Consider buying items you need from companies that’ll give a portion of the sale to charity. For instance, Patagonia donates 1% of its sales to environmental organizations. TOMS shoes “One For One” program donates shoes, eye care, safe water, and more to people in need. Through its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, eyewear company Warby Parker donates money for glasses to nonprofit partners.
6. Get your craft on
If you like to knit, crochet, or call yourself a sewing enthusiast, use up some of your stockpiled yarn and fabric. It’s fun and easy to make hats for preemie babies, socks and scarves for the homeless, or quilts for nursing home residents. If you’re not sure where to take your goods, call the volunteer services department of your local health system or hospital before you start to see what they need.
7. Clean out your closet
Declutter your home and help others at the same time. Donate clothes and shoes you no longer wear to a local charity like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, and donate old towels to a local animal shelter. Better yet, check to see if you can set up a donation box at your workplace. Spread the word among coworkers that you’ll collect their donations and drop them off at a designated charity.
8. Gift your credit card rewards
Many credit card companies let you donate your frequent-flyer miles or reward points to a charity. Keep in mind these rewards may not be tax-deductible as donations; check with your tax professional. If you can donate your points online, your card issuer may let you choose from a group of approved charities. If your card issuer doesn’t allow direct donations or doesn’t list your favorite charity, just redeem the reward points to your account. Once you collect the award, donate an equal amount to your favorite charity.
Contributing to the greater good doesn’t have to mean cleaning out your wallet. There are endless ways to help out that just require a little time, thought, and effort.