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5 Ways to Give Back, Even When Times are Hard

Updated on December 11, 2013

You do not have to neglect important needs if money is tight. Here are five ways to give back during the holidays, even when times are hard.

How will you give back this holiday season?
How will you give back this holiday season? | Source

Creative Holiday Giving

During the holidays, you may want to give money to your church, charity, or special cause. Most people make one-quarter of their charitable donations between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Eve.

In an uncertain economy -- when many people unemployed, under-employed, or struggling to make ends meet -- how can you give back during the holidays? Between your basic financial needs and ordinary holiday expenses, there may be little money to give to others.

Monetary giving is a rewarding part of personal finance. Fortunately, you do not have to neglect important needs if money is tight this year. There are other ways to give back during the holidays, even when times are hard. Here are five ideas and a bonus.

Go viral with your favorite cause.
Go viral with your favorite cause. | Source

1. Go Viral

Here is something you can do to give your dollars a boost thanks to the power of the Internet and the generosity of friends: Go viral.

Promote your cause on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Include a link to your organization's online donor form.

You might be surprised how many of your friends and followers will click through and contribute to the cause.

2. Give Monthly

Instead of making a single, one-time donation, consider smaller monthly contributions. Decide on a gift amount and set up an automatic monthly charge to your debit card or bank account.

While monthly gifts of $5 or $10 may seem too little to make a difference, even small amounts add up over time. By the end of the year, you will have given more money to your favorite charity than the average one-time donation.

Donate to a food drive.
Donate to a food drive. | Source

3. Donate Food

Now is a good time to clean out your kitchen cupboards. Sort through canned goods for items to donate to your local food pantry or community food drive.

Annual food drives are holiday traditions for many churches, schools, and businesses. While cash is always appreciated, most food pantries welcome healthy staples like canned vegetables, tuna fish, peanut butter, rice, and dried beans.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter is another rewarding way to give back during the holidays. Soup kitchens always need help at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My family served turkey-and-dressing dinners at a central Texas homeless shelter a few years ago, and it was our most memorable Christmas ever.

4. Donate Clothes

Goodwill and The Salvation Army are two good places to donate your gently used clothes and household goods. Be on the lookout for local drives that collect clothes, coats, and blankets for your town's dislocated and homeless.

Don't forget hats, caps, scarves, gloves, and other winter apparel when you are looking for things to donate. People often overlook these essential, cold-weather accessories.

What can you do if your town does not have a Goodwill Donation Station, or you do not have clothes to donate this year? Start a holiday clothing drive at your church, school, or business. Like food drives, they are easy to organize and rewarding to accomplish.

Donate blood and give the gift of life.
Donate blood and give the gift of life. | Source

5. Give Blood

Blood donations are in high demand throughout the year, but they are typically down during the hectic holiday season. What better time to give the gift of life than at Christmas?

Many local Red Cross chapters work with churches, universities, businesses, and communities to organize holiday blood drives and collect whole blood. These units are then separated into plasma, platelets, and red blood cells to treat various injuries and illnesses.

Donating blood can have a huge impact on someone's life, and it costs you nothing that cannot be replenished. To learn more about blood donations during the holidays, call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit the American Red Cross website.

Support your cause with GoodSearch.
Support your cause with GoodSearch. | Source

Bonus: GoodSearch

What if you could raise money for your school, church, or charity simply by searching the Internet? What if you could support your cause by shopping online or dining at your favorite restaurant?

GoodSearch, GoodShop, and GoodDining are three fundraising programs that let you give to charity by doing everyday things you probably do already.

GoodSearch is an Internet search engine that donates 50 percent of its search revenue to non-profit organizations. That's about a penny per search for your favorite cause. GoodShop gives your designated charity a percentage of each sale at its online shopping mall. GoodDining supports your cause with a percentage of your restaurant check.

When you want to give back but have little or no money to do so, these fundraising programs are a great option. GoodSearch recently added even more ways to raise, including GoodGames, GoodSurveys, and GoodTravel.

The Grace of Giving

When you donate to a church, charity, or special cause, you make a real difference in the lives of other people.

When you give something without expecting anything in return, you experience abundance and blessing. If you are a Christian, giving helps you excel at the grace of giving.

There are also tax advantages to donating money, goods, or volunteer time to charitable causes if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes them as qualified charitable organizations. Donate on or before December 31 and reap the benefits at tax time. That is a tangible, and very welcome, blessing for you when times are hard.

Your Turn

What is your favorite way to give to others during the holidays? Leave a comment below and join the discussion. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your social networks.

© 2011 Annette R. Smith

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    • Annette R. Smith profile image
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      Annette R. Smith 2 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Mothers of Nations. Good to hear from you! Thank you for reading my article – and for sharing your great ideas here in the comments. Money is tight for some of us, but all of us have time. Giving even a little time to others is a good way to give back during the holidays and throughout the year. Thanks again for your comment -- and for your vote and shares!

    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 2 years ago

      Great suggestions! Another suggestion is simply donating time - helping out a friend, spending time with the elderly, spending time with a child who may not get QT at home, helping at a local church, assisting a charity, etc. Of course these are things that should be done throughout the year regardless, but during the season where giving is most talked about, this is something to really consider - and not forget when the holidays are over! :) God bless you*

      Voted up and shared...

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 3 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, tirelesstraveler. May your holiday be beautiful and blessed!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Bravo! These are gifts of the heart. Isn't that what we are supposed to do. Blessings!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, Leslie. I'm grateful for your read and comment. I hope your Christmas was beautiful and blessed!

    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 4 years ago from Alabama

      I really enjoyed reading your hub. You brought out some great points and ideas that I will use in the future.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Holiday greetings to iguidenetwork. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end, sharing with others is a wonderful action and feeling. Thank you for sharing your comment with us, and for giving me a vote up. Merry Christmas!

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      It's a good feeling to give, especially when you have a lot to give. But even if you've got with almost nothing it's still always good to share -- on Christmas or just any other day. Voted up.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      You're welcome, Sofija. I am glad my ideas inspired you. Have a wonderful, merry Christmas!

    • diplorging profile image

      diplorging 4 years ago from Serbia

      Thanks for your inspirational ideas!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, wilderness. Thank you for reading "5 Ways to Give Back, Even When Times are Hard." I've updated the hub for a new season, but the information is certainly relevant year-round. Merry Christmas!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I see your hub is around a year old, but the information is just as pertinent now as it was then. Christmas is around the corner once more, and this is very timely and useful. Thank you.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 4 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hello, Michelle. Thank you for taking a moment to read and comment. The Salvation Army does wonderful things for those in need. How interesting that your fiance is a descendant of the founder.

    • mscott45 profile image

      Michelle Booth 4 years ago from UK

      Lovely ideas. My fiance is a descendant of the founder of the Salvation Army, that's one we will be supporting and I'll definitely use Goodsearch. Thank you.

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, Maren. May your holiday be merry and bright!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great hub!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, Raci! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. May this season be one of joy for you!

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      thank you for this wonderful hub...i like the message give back in order to get back...i remember the song Give love on Christmas Day...what a better way to celebrate this Season...

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Hi, Peggy W. It's a pleasure to meet you, too! Thanks so much for sharing your insights and encouragement. Have a blessed Christmas season!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You have given excellent suggestions for people who wish to help others but may not have extra cash to donate. Having worked as a volunteer counselor for an assistance ministry for many years...food and clothing...even other household items...are always needed. If they sell them to help pay people's bills...great! If they let people choose items directly to help them out of difficult circumstances...even better. Every little bit helps!

      Voted up and useful. Happy to meet you here on HubPages!

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 5 years ago

      May you have a Merry Christmas too!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you, SusieQ42. And you're so right. Volunteering is a beautiful way to put God's word into action right in our own neighborhoods. I appreciate your compliments and encouragement. Merry Christmas!

    • profile image

      SusieQ42 5 years ago

      Excellent ways to give when we don't have much money! I know how hard it is now days for people who have little. Volunteering is always a great way show the love of Jesus to others. I appreciate this thoughtful hub. God bless!

    • Annette R. Smith profile image
      Author

      Annette R. Smith 5 years ago from Grand Island, Florida

      Thank you for your comments, Hyphenbird. How beautifully written, too! "May we all add our drops or bucketful." Amen, and amen!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      These are great ideas Annette. Many people feel helpless but have a great desire to make a difference. There are indeed so many ways to help. Our local Cub Scout troop just collected several pickup trucks of food by going door to door. Some of these little guys are only six years old and are learning the impact of one person.

      You are so right that a few dollars can make a big difference. Mother Theresa said without that one drop in the ocean it would be less. May we all add our drops or bucketful. Bless you for this thoughtful article.