If you think the only way to help your favourite charity is with a financial donation, think again! While donations of money are integral to many charities, there are many other ways to make a difference! So, whether you’re on a budget or just looking for more ways to help, here are 14 ways you can give back that won’t cost a cent.
1. Put Your Special Skills To Use
Think about your skills, hobbies, and interests, and reach out to a charity who might need your help. Put cooking skills to use with a community breakfast program. Use your love of reading to help a local literacy program for children or newcomers. Have a skill you can teach or share? Shelters, community programs, and many other charities are often looking for those with artistic, writing, or computer skills to help improve the lives of others. Use your imagination as there is certainly a charity out there looking for someone with the skills you have to offer!
2. Give Your Time
Not sure what skills you have to offer or just want to try something different? Many charities depend on volunteers to fulfill their mission. Check out your favourite charity’s website or search the Volunteer Centre to learn about all the ways you can help. There are many charities looking for youth mentors, volunteer drivers, special event volunteers, new board members, or general office help.
3. Foster or Volunteer to Support Fur Babies
Some young, sick, or injured animals find shelters to be stressful, or some local shelters simply don’t have enough space for every animal. You can help these animals get ready for a permanent home by temporarily fostering a dog, cat, or other animal in need.
If having an animal in your home isn’t for you, animal rescues, shelters, and sanctuaries often need help to care for animals in their facilities. Whether it’s as a friendly visitor, a dog walker, or simply doing whatever odd job needs to be done, there are so many ways to spend time with a few furry friends.
4. Be a Charitable Consumer
More and more retailers are offering products that have a charitable component. Some donate a portion of sales to support a charitable cause related to their brand. Other companies donate their own products or services to help those in need when consumers make a purchase, while other organizations will donate a portion of sales to a specific charity. So the next time you’re looking for moisturizer or a pair of shoes, see if you can find a company that will go the extra mile and are participating in charitable initiatives.
5. Use Your Voice
Take to social media and talk about your favourite charity! Share videos and stories that tell your friends about all the great work they do, and tell your friends about their events and other ways they can get involved. You can also go old school and simply talk to people about your favourite cause and how they can help.
6. Get Crafty
Knit or crochet blankets, mittens, hats, toys, and more for a deserving charity. These items can be donated to hospitals, shelters, or other organizations helping those in need. Your local craft store may be able to recommend a specific charity, or ask your local hospital or social service charity about donating the gift of warmth and comfort to the people they support.
7. Volunteer Your Pet
Got a friendly dog or cat? Considering bringing your four-legged friend to a hospital, retirement home, or school. Your pet can help someone with recovery or improve a person’s ability to cope with a chronic health problem. Pets can help reduce stress, depression, and tiredness, calm anxiety, and reduce pain. Your furry friend also increases socialization and stimulates conversation. Organizations like Therapeutic Paws of Canada can be a go-to resource to get involved.
8. Give the Gift of Sight
Imagine your old eyeglasses could help someone see well enough to read, succeed in their career, or gain independence. Many local and international charities help distribute used glasses to people in need. Not sure where to start? Try asking your eye doctor or a local eyeglass store for a recommendation.
9. Donate Blood
You can give the gift of life by donating blood. It takes just over an hour of your time, and your single donation can save multiple lives. Your gift will support medical care such as those receiving surgery or cancer treatment, as well as help victims of sudden accidents and injuries, or those managing disease. The need for blood is constant. Find out more at Canadian Blood Services.
10. Give Old Clothes a Second Life
Many charities and non-profit organizations depend on clothing donations. While many charities have a need for used, gently used clothing, consider giving winter clothing to charities working with newcomers, refugees or people experiencing homelessness. If you have professional clothing, there are often local charities specifically working to help outfit people in need for job interviews. Some charities like Diabetes Canada will even come to your to home to pick up your used clothes.
11. Donate Hair
Put that ponytail to good use! Several charitable organizations have programs that collect hair. Your donation to charities like Wigs for Kids will provide a wig to kids living with hair loss due to treatment or ongoing health issues.
12. Donate Furniture
Your gently used furniture can help a family make a new, empty apartment feel like a home. Many charities will gladly take your used couch, kitchen table, or armchair to put it to good use to help individuals and families get back on their feet whether it’s a woman escaping abuse, a refugee family, or a former shelter occupant finally getting a space of their own. Consider donating to organizations such as Furniture Bank in Toronto, Habitat for Humanity or ask a shelter or community service organization in your community whether they could benefit from your gently used furniture.
13. Clear Out Your Pantry
Donating food to a local food bank is an easy way to help people in your community. Many grocery stores have a collection bin near the front of their store, or look up your local food bank at Food Banks of Canada. Not only do food banks need many canned and non-perishable foods, many are in dire need of infant formula and baby food, diapers, and personal hygiene products.
Do you have toys at home that your children no longer love? There are many places that could use your gently used toys with experience bring joy to a new generation of kids. Contact your local faith organization, social service charity, or an organization that supports new parents in your community for suggestions on where to donate!