Throughout the holiday giving season, we’re encouraged to support worthy charities with our dollars.
But making donations can be difficult, or even impossible, for people who struggle financially. Luckily, giving back in meaningful ways doesn’t have to break the bank.
Giving Tuesday, which always falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., is a national day of giving that kicks off the charitable season. And even though it coincides with the holiday shopping season which can already be a strain on families with tight budgets you can make a difference without emptying your wallet.
For Giving Tuesday this year, check out these no-cost ways to do some good.
1. Make plans to volunteer your time.
Volunteering your time at a local nonprofit is a free way to give back to your community. Giving Tuesday, however, falls on a workday, which means you might not be able to afford to take time off.
Instead of volunteering on Giving Tuesday itself, make concrete plans to give back on a future date that fits your schedule.
2. Offer your skills instead of your funds.
Skills are irreplaceable, and they’re often overlooked. Aside from volunteering your time, volunteering your skills and talents adds a personal touch to giving back.
If you’re well-versed in literature or math, consider tutoring school children in subjects they struggle to grasp. If crocheting and knitting are more your speed, consider creating prosthetic yarn breasts for women who have undergone mastectomies. If you’re an expert conversationalist, visit a senior center to chat with the elderly.
Online services like Catchafire can help you match your skills to a relevant cause. Get creative and put your talents to work.
3. Harness the power of Facebook fundraisers.
Creating a Facebook fundraiser page is a simple way to channel your social media prowess for good. Any Facebook user can make a fundraiser on the platform to benefit more than 750,000 nonprofits, promoting a cause to friends who might have some extra money to give.
Take the initiative to create and run a fundraiser for a worthy cause on Giving Tuesday. You can encourage others in a more stable financial situation to donate to an organization you love, and use Facebook Live or personal posts to explain why you care about a certain issue.
You can find out more about Facebook fundraisers here.
4. Give back through tech.
Technology has made it incredibly simple to give back at no cost. For Giving Tuesday, consider adding some online philanthropy to your internet schedule and throughout the year.
Here are just a few ways you can use tech to give back:
VocaliD is a free, innovative effort through which you can donate your voice and help create realistic, distinct voices for people who can’t speak. All you need to do is record yourself for three to four hours, saying everything from simple sounds to a series of words. The recordings are then paired with a recipient, and the site combines the vocal abilities of both parties to create a unique voice.
Tab for a Cause is a great way to make the most of your messy and convoluted internet browsing. The browser extension replaces your new tab screen with a customizable page that raises money for nonprofits through ads. You can choose exactly where that money goes once you accumulate enough points. While it’s not much, the money really does add up.
Freerice is a popular site that lets you donate 10 grains of rice to a community in need for every correct answer you give to a question. You can choose quizzes on topics such as vocabulary, chemistry, languages and SAT prep.
5. Donate your gently used clothing.
If you have tons of clothing in your closet looking for a new home, consider making Giving Tuesday the time to do some overdue spring cleaning.
If you have a bit of cash to spare, you can also buy low-cost clothing essentials, like socks and underwear. Shelters often lack these clothing items because they can only be donated new.
You can usually find packs of socks and underwear for under $5, and they make a huge impact.
6. Spread awareness of inequality.
Making people aware of inequality is the first step toward tangible action. If you can’t donate money to an organization or cause, use social media to spread awareness and information.
Pick a cause you care about especially one that’s often overlooked and use Giving Tuesday to start a conversation. From highlighting statistics to sharing personal stories about why you’re invested, you can use social media to shed light on pressing issues, and show the work of reputable nonprofits in the process.
The U.N. Foundation is also currently running its #GiveAGIF campaign, which encourages social media users to share GIFs that highlight inequality around the world. We often forget about the power of getting people thinking, but it’s essential in tackling the world’s biggest problems.
7. Renew your commitment to give throughout the year.
While Giving Tuesday has an undeniable impact, the single-day event does risk making charitable giving an annual affair instead of a long-term commitment. Marginalized communities and people in need, however, could use your support year-round.
People in need could use your support year-round not just on Giving Tuesday.
Organizations like Charity Navigator recommend setting aside a few random days to give back throughout the upcoming year. That could mean donating to a food pantry, cleaning out your gently used clothing, or even giving cash later in the year when your financial situation is a bit more stable.
Certain times of the year, like late winter and spring, see less giving, so consider focusing on those months to maximize your impact.
Overall, don’t be discouraged from giving just because Giving Tuesday hits at a time of year when money is especially tight. Use the day to make a tangible plan that fits you and your financial circumstances for the following year.