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Giving Tuesday: Five Ways Cheap People Can Give Back

A list of ways to be charitable on any budget during the holidays.

Credit: GivingTuesday.org
Credit: GivingTuesday.org

Among the multiple drawbacks to the country’s slow economic recovery is its possible effect on charitable giving. Charitable donations usually surge in December. While donations are crucial for those in need, there’s also a beneficial corollary for the giver.

Today is the second annual Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday), a “campaign fostering a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season,” and the spirit of generosity is in the air.

For those who are feeling stretched (or just cheap) but want to participate, here are 5 ways to be charitable that won’t break the bank.

Donate your time: Money is great, but it’s not the only thing we have to give. Soup kitchens, schools, hospitals, hospices and nursing homes could often use an extra set of hands.

Benevolent spending: Some companies have made it possible to simultaneously give to charity while taking care of your gift list. For instance, Amazon has a charity option called Smile, and they will donate 0.5 percent of purchases made through that site to the charity of your choice. The interesting thing about Amazon Smile is how easy they make it to donate locally: It’s easy for me to give to a locally-run Alzheimer’s home. Check out other companies like Warby Parker and One World Futbol Project, who work with a similar charitable model.

Give your miles: If you haven’t already used them for holiday travel, you can donate any extra airline miles or hotel points to charity. For instance, US Airways partners with a number of charities, from the American Red Cross to Make-A-Wish America in their Miles of Hope program. If you are in a points program, there’s a good chance they have philanthropic partners as well.

Work your computer: You can actually help cancer researchers by donating CPU cycles at World Community Grid. Or maybe you champion a different cause: BOINC will help you use your computer’s idle time to aid projects that “cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research.” Awesome.

Almighty money (in any amount): You might be surprised by how quickly those coins at the bottom of your purse or captive in the couch cushions can add up. Collect it with a charity in mind. You may end up giving more than you thought you could. Or, if you know exactly how much you can give, charities like One Laptop per Child and Food for the Poor will accept donations in any amount.

Do you have other suggestions for those who want to give this year but are tight on money? Let us know in the comments or in a blog post.

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