Guide to Giving Back This Holiday Season
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We all know that you can score some incredible deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you may not have thought about using holiday deals to purchase donations. The holidays are a great time to give back, and in that spirit #GivingTuesday was born.
What is #GivingTuesday exactly?
It’s a national movement during the holidays dedicated to charitable giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping. The goal of #GivingTuesday is to encourage people everywhere including retailers, charities, online organizations, community centers, individuals and families to come together with one common purpose — to help others, give more, give smarter, and celebrate the great American spirit of generosity through charitable contributions and volunteerism.
Find a local charity
Many of your small, local charities don’t have as many corporate donors as the larger ones do, so they need and appreciate the donations (monetary, goods, or volunteer time) much more. Charity Navigator is a great tool for finding reputable, highly-rated organizations. (Side-note: very small charities are not rated on Charity Navigator, but don’t rule them out. Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors.)
Identify their highest priority needs
Following charities on social media or checking their website are great ways to see their most urgent needs, but you can easily shoot them a quick email to get a list, too. Of course, any donations will always be appreciated, but it’s nice to have a goal when you head out deal-hunting.
Shelters always needs things like clothing, coats, boots, blankets, pillows, eyeglasses, and hygiene items, including diapers and feminine hygiene products. Children’s hospitals are a great place to donate things like coloring books, DVDs, toys, gift cards, and art supplies. Canned goods and other non-perishable items are on sale during the holidays, and are great for food pantries. You can also check your local school district for Title 1 schools in your area, and donate items like coats, hats, gloves, boots, backpacks, school supplies, gift cards, and other items.
Look around for items you already have
It’s nice to find great deals, but you probably have many donatable items around your home already. Coats your kids have outgrown, shampoo and other items from your stockpile, old bedding sets, etc., are all needed somewhere. Also consider pulling from your gift closet. Signing up for samples throughout the year is a super easy and frugal way to donate.
Follow the sales
Check out this post on sale cycles to see the best items to score big on each month. It’s a great way to shop smart throughout the year, and avoid buying something last minute and spending too much. Also, follow all of our deals HERE.
Donate pet food
Animal shelters are always in need of cat and dog food donations, and it’s not always something we remember, but with couponing, this can be a great way to be frugal while giving back.
Donations are great, but volunteering is FREE!
Some organizations really rely on volunteers, so if you can’t seem to pull off donating, volunteering is just as good, if not better! There are a million different ways to volunteer your time, and no shortage of organizations that desperately need it.
I also can’t put enough emphasis on how rewarding volunteering can be, especially for kids. The experience is invaluable, eye-opening, and incredibly humbling. Who couldn’t use a little of that this time of year?
Some great ways to get kids involved:
See if you can find somewhere to volunteer that allows children (check age restrictions!). If volunteering in person is not an option, organize a donation drive. Identify an organization that might be relevant to your child, and discuss the importance of donations to that particular charity.
Every year we have a hot chocolate party for my kids and their friends, but we’ve turned it into a donation drive, as well. This year we’re asking for donations of diapers for the local homeless shelter. I’m just going to make a couple pots of hot chocolate in my slow cookers, and ask our guests to bring fun toppings (like whipped cream, candy canes, marshmallows, etc.). It’s SO much fun, and costs nearly nothing, AND we get to help out the local homeless shelter. Win-win, right?!
I’m pretty new to the team, so most of you don’t know this, but I’m the Vice President of a small non-profit organization in Salt Lake City, UT. We focus on volunteering and holding donation drives for various local organizations and communities, so I’m very familiar with, and passionate about giving back. The picture above is from when we served dinner at a local homeless shelter.
If you’re short on time or money, simply find a way to pay it forward
Paying for someone’s coffee, leaving a dollar on the toy aisle at the dollar store, donate blood, leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places, compliment a stranger, hold the door open, smile at someone…
You never know how a few kind words can change someone’s day…
Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.