5 Stupidly Easy Ways Donate Without Spending Extra Cash

For the past couple of years, I’ve been sitting on the board of the Friends of the Forgotten, and it’s been a really rewarding experience. I’ve learned, though, how incredibly hard fundraising is. And this is often a tough time of year for nonprofits - the holidays encourage many to give, but summer tends to drag. To exacerbate the problem, as a twenty-something, I’m often cash-strapped enough as it is, and donating to charity on top of paying my bills can be a challenge.

Never fear! I’ve put together five, really, really easy (stupidly easy) ways to donate - none of which require any extra cash. It’s your personal guide for donating when you’re feeling time-stretched, cash-strapped, or even just extra lazy.

1) AmazonSmile. This one is so ridiculously easy, it hurts to think anyone wouldn’t do it. Who doesn’t shop on Amazon these days? I myself recently invested in a Fire tablet, a bamboo mouse, a set of grilling mats, and a screen repair kit (don’t ask). I have free, two-day shipping with Amazon Prime, so frankly, the thought of going to Target when I could just sit at home and continue to not have to talk to people makes Amazon the no-duh choice.

But it also makes it easier knowing that some of my proceeds are going to Friends of the Forgotten for buying things I wanted to buy anyway. Just shop at http://smile.amazon.com instead of the usual URL, select your charity, and use Amazon like you normally would. They’ll kick back a little something to your chosen organization when you check out. Tah dah! Money goes to good causes with literally no more effort than typing an extra word into your address bar.

2) Pick gifts with impact. Going to a birthday dinner/shower/wedding soon? Pick gifts that do a little giving of their own. Here are some of my favorites right now:

a) Bravelets has casual jewelry engraved with something I need to hear more often: be brave. A portion of your purchase goes to one of hundreds of charities selected by you. Here’s one of my favorite styles. If your giftee is amping up to ask for a raise or looking to kill that spider family that’s colonized the bathroom, Bravelets is for you.

b) I’m really into wooden everything right now, and WeWOOD makes some of the most gorgeous wooden watches out there. They’re pricey, so it’s probably not the best gift for an acquaintance, but to say “Hey, I more than just casually like you,” they’re perfect. For every watch you buy, they plant a tree. Nice, right?

c) I’ve loved Out of Print since I bought my Great Gatsby t-shirt back in high school, which died in a tragic accident involving bleach a couple of years ago (R.I.P.). Little did I know that my purchase was helping to fund literacy programs. If you know someone who likes books (ahem, me, ahem), you’ll find something here.

d) It’s summer now, but winter is coming (insert Game-of-Thrones-reference-that-I-don’t-fully-understand here). Love Your Melon gives 50 percent of your purchase to one of many nonprofits that are working to end childhood cancer. The hats are oh-so-warm and comfy, and I wish it were cold enough to wear one right now. Also, I hate summer. That humidity, amirite?

You needed gifts anyway, right? Why not buy something cute and fun that makes a difference?

3) Donate your birthday/shower/wedding. I saw a friend-of-a-friend using Facebook’s new-ish “Donate” button to do this recently, and I thought it was totally cool! Instead of gifts, she asked her friends to donate to a cause that was very near-and-dear to her, and she managed to raise a few hundred dollars. Look for my fundraiser next year - I already have too much stuff, and if I get any more, my tiny house will probably topple over (it’s very top-heavy).

4) Function Friday. I’ve been in a rut lately with my weekends. It’s been the same couple of things: go out for dinner and drinks, or hit up the movie theater. Instead of putting my money somewhere useful, I’m putting it toward something that’s just giving me an okay time. It’s stupid. For the same cost, I can buy a ticket to one of the many fundraisers going on around town. They usually wind up being more fun (they’re called FUNdraisers for a reason), the food is way better, and the drinks can’t be beat - especially because the events I usually wind up at tend to be hosted by craft breweries.

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5) TAGG your stuff. This one is for my Lincoln and Omaha peeps (sorry, world). Download the TAGG app and find a ton of local stores, restaurants, and services that will donate a portion of your purchase to the charity of your choice. All you have to do is scan a QR code when you’re there, or upload a picture of your receipt later. My personal favorite place to TAGG? eCreamery!

There you have it! Being charitable has never been so stupidly easy! Do you have any tips for easy donating? Let me know!

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