Alternative Ways to Donate in a Recession

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Thu, Sep 10 - 11:09 am EDT | 5 years ago by
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Many of us are committed to helping those less fortunate and donating to charity. While my contributions to my church have not been reduced (a portion of the money stays in the community to help the less fortunate and a portion goes on to “headquarters”), I have been a bit choosy about my other charitable contributions during this recession.

381px-Charity_to_Street_ArabAnd then I had an epiphany: Charitable giving doesn’t always have to be about cash. There are others ways to donate to others during a recession. Here are some things you can do to donate to charity.

  1. Time. You can donate your time. My son just started 1st grade. That means I have more time. While I want to do some things for myself (like swim laps and practice my musical instruments), I can also donate time to help others. There are a number of charities and shelters in town that provide helpful services to those in need of them. I can help out with a little of my time.
  2. Stuff. We’ve got a lot of stuff laying around. I’ve thought about selling my stuff, but what if I donate it instead? We have baby clothes, unused exercise equipment and more. Instead of selling for our own gain, we can donate it to various agencies in town. The women’s shelter or the children and family center could probably use the clothes, toys and blankets we have. We have extra food that could go to the food pantry. Donations to the local thrift store provide others with access to affordable goods, and jobs for those who are having difficulty.
  3. Stocks. If you have stock you have had for a long time, you can hand it over. If you bought 100 shares stock in some company for $5 a share 15 years ago, and now its worth $15 a share (even with the recession, you can see how holding something a long time can pay off in some cases), you can hand it over to charity. That $500 is now worth $1,500. And if you donate it, you won’t have to pay capital gains on the $1,000 you earned. But you can still deduct the entire $1,500 if you itemize.
  4. Other asset gifts. You can use donor-advised funds to provide you with the means to help charities whenever without a capital gains tax. You can also sell depreciated stocks and take both a charity write-off and a capital loss. It is also possible to donate life insurance policies and other assets to charities. Make sure you consult with a tax professional, though, before trying to reap any of the tax related advantages.

And, of course, if you still want to donate cash, you can increase the value of your donation by doing your homework. Instead of spreading yourself thin, pick one or two charities that you really believe in, and donate the bulk of money there. That way, you will get more bang for your charity buck, putting your money where you think it will accomplish the most.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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  • Craig

    Before the page even loaded I figured that Time would be #1. You can always donate your time for whatever cause or even something simple like helping out a friend. Donating doesn’t always have to be financial.

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  • Adriana

    Thank you for reminding people that they don’t need to donate money to make a difference in the lives of others.

    The charitable project I sponsor (you can visit its website clicking on my name in the signature) was initially made possible by the help of small clothes manufacturers who donated scraps of fabric that they didn’t need. My work creating and promoting the website has made a much bigger difference for the group of Brazilian artisans than any monetary donation I’ve made the project, since it has enabled the group to reach the U.S. market — something that would have been impossible without an online presence.

    In some cases, other forms of giving, like volunteering your time and skills, can make an even bigger impact than your dollars, so don’t underestimate their power!

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  • Lee

    Hi :)

    I hate doing this normally, but given the timeliness of your post to mine, I thought you might like to read my thoughts on giving to charity during a recession and during a journey to debt freedom when cash is tight.

    You’re spot on though – “giving” does not have to mean “cash” for it to be very worthwhile.



  • FinanciallySmart

    Most persons believe that charity is all about money but it isn’t. A lot of individuals who doesn’t want to do the work will give the money because this is the easy way out. Going to an orphanage and be amongst the children playing with them and reading a story is also good. This little things will be able to change their world and leave a smile on your heart.

  • Miranda Marquit

    Thanks for sharing your story! It is true that you can find a lot of good ways to donate your time and talents. And you are right that these can be even more valuable than money!