It's better to give than to receive. But at this
time of year, even the most generous donor can get exhausted with
the pleas for contributions to a million worthy causes.
We give half of our charitable donations between Thanksgiving and
Christmas, and charities ramp up their sales pitches around this
time, knowing that the generosity of the holidays spills over from
families into good causes worldwide.
If you're looking for a good cause to support, consider the
charities chosen for this year's Foolanthropy drive. Two of our
charities work with businesses to improve environmental practices
and help preserve the planet's resources. Two work with children in
impoverished nations. The last, in keeping with the mission of The
Motley Fool, promotes financial literacy.
If you feel totally tapped out already, take heart. It may seem
miserly to put your charitable donations on a budget, but sometimes,
you just can't help it. Still, that doesn't mean you can't make a
contribution to your favorite cause. You can help in other ways
besides writing a check. Let's go through some ideas.
Charities count on volunteers to do everything from making phone
calls and stuffing envelopes to serving on their planning and
fundraising committees. Many charities struggle to find volunteers
to do the mountains of work it takes to run an organization and
provide its services. If there's a group you want to help, call it
up and ask whether there's anything you can do. Many will let you
drop in when needed, though a few might ask for a longer commitment.
You may even feel better about your contribution than you would if
you wrote a check.
Use a skill
Your professional skills don't need to be confined to the workplace.
A charity out there may need your accounting or public-relations or
management expertise. Make your skills known to a charity that you
want to help. You may be the answer to their holiday wishes.
This might not be what you'd expect to find in a column about how to
give to charities without spending, but some large charities have
credit card programs that donate to the cause for every purchase. If
you're a responsible credit card user, this might be an idea that
appeals to you. If you tend to charge more than you can pay, you'll
be spending money that could be donated to a good cause on finance
charges. Many of the cards have no annual fee. Like all things
credit-related, read all of the fine print before signing up.
Along those lines, consider shopping for a good cause. If you have
to buy Christmas cards and gifts anyway, try seeking out a retailer
or producer that donates a portion of its proceeds to a charity.
Some websites allow visitors to click on a button and make a free
donation, paid for by advertisers. Several websites, such as Charity
Click Donation and The Hunger Site, aggregate some of these
charities. Check the website of your favorite charity, and see
whether you can click to donate.
There's a reason charities print bumper stickers, T-shirts, address
labels, notepads, and a seemingly endless parade of stuff bearing
the charity's name and mission. If you really want to spread the
word about a good cause, put this paraphernalia to work. When your
friends ask about it, take a minute to explain the charity's good
deeds. You may have just discovered a new donor.
Finally, you can join the crowd of opinionated Fools by putting in
your 2 cents. Two cents may not seem like a lot, but it adds up
quickly. Consider our "My 2 Cents Campaign": For every single post
on this website's myriad discussion boards in the month of December,
The Motley Fool will donate $0.02 to the pot of Fools' donations for
Foolanthropy, to be divided equally among the four charities not
receiving the $10,000 bonus that goes to the charity garnering the
most Foolish support. So just by chiming in on the discussion about
everything from budgeting to stock analysis to baseball, you can add
your 2 cents to the pot and help out that way.
By Mary Dalrymple (TMF LadyD)
November 29, 2006