If you’ve got nothing spare in your budget, but want to give to charitable causes, there are loads of ways to help others or donate to charity without spending a penny.
I get a pang of guilt when there’s another fundraiser at school or a charity thing on TV, or there’s a cause I genuinely want to get behind.
I’d like to get involved and text that number to give £20, or set up a recurring direct debit, but my budget won’t always stretch.
So, instead of looking to donate money to a charity, I’ve looked at ways I can still give when I’m skint, just without needing to spend any money.
How can I donate to charity with no money?
What surprises me so much and leaves me humbled, is the kindness and warmth of strangers.
Even if people have no money, they still want to try and give to others who may be in need that little bit more.
Skint people are some of the most generous and giving people I’ve ever met.
I think it comes down to the fact that so many have been there and got the t-shirt.
If you’ve lived on very little money month to month, then you know how hard it can be for someone else, and something that can seem small will help people out.
If you wear glasses, you know the struggle of having to squint to see when watching TV or reading a book.
Luckily, we’ve got the NHS and can get very cheap, or even free glasses to help with our sight.
When you get a new pair of glasses, what do you do with the old pair? They may well sit in a drawer unused for a few years until you have a clear out, but they are a much-needed item.
Instead, you can help someone else see and have clear vision – so donate your glasses on.
High street opticians including Specsavers, will usually have a collection bin in store so you can leave your unwanted specs. These will get passed to Vision Aid Overseas.
Your local Lions Club also collect unwanted and broken spectacles. If not, you can post them to a central point for free.
Glasses are then sent to other countries to help people see. Scrap metal is salvaged from broken glasses to raise additional funds.
Donate your bras
For the women reading, you may take your bras or undies for granted, but people living in Africa see them as a luxury.
You’re able to donate new pants and bras as well as gently worn bras to the Smalls for All charity.
Donations will help and give some dignity to people in orphanages, slums, IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and schools.
Knit for NICU
Knitting is an excellent way to keep you busy in the evenings, but you can put your needles to good use.
From the price of some wool, you’re able to help premature and sick babies have the best possible chance of leading healthy lives.
Babies need warm blankets, hats, jackets, socks and even a teddy.
If you prefer to crochet, you just need to make sure there are no holes (as tiny fingers can get caught).
Don’t start knitting straight away – contact your local neonatal unit to find out what they need.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are some knitting patterns here.
Once you’ve finished decorating your home, you may well have some leftover pots of paint. Disposing of paint in the rubbish in a no-no, so the paint will most likely get stored in your shed for a few years.
Instead of keeping the whole pot, keep a small amount in a glass jar for emergency paint touch-ups and give the rest away to charity.
The paint can then go on to help local charities and community groups who would otherwise struggle to pay for it.
Find out more about how to donate with Community RePaint.
If you’re upgrading your kids’ bike or are looking to get rid of your own one, then why not consider donating it to charity?
Re-Cycle recycles bikes and sends them to Africa to help people become more mobile.
It can take some people up to four hours to get to school, water or other necessities in parts of Africa, so a bike can be life-changing for some families.
As well as giving people your donated bike, the charity also teaches people how to maintain the bike so they can stay mobile for longer.
Donate your car
Do you have an old banger that won’t even get much at scrap?
Have you ever thought of donating your car to charity – yep, it’s a thing!
Simply contact an organisation who help with donating cars to charity, and they’ll arrange to come and collect it for free.
Depending on its condition, it’ll either be auctioned or scrapped, and the proceeds will go to the charity of your choice.
Your old PC
Instead of sending your old PC or laptop to the landfill, why not allow it a new lease of life?
You’re able to donate your old computer to charities like Weee Recycle who will wipe any data and repair or refurbish the machine.
If they cannot get the computer working, they will recycle 100% of it with nothing going to landfill.
As well as helping with reducing waste, they are also upskilling people. With volunteers from the local Job Centre and The Princes Trust, the charity teaches skills to repair computers and gives people work experience to help get them into employment.
When the PC or laptop is working, they are given away to other charitable foundations, community groups, outreach centres, PTA groups, children’s services and families in need across the country.
Your old wedding dress
This is a very sad one.
There are a few ways you can donate your wedding dress to others.
Firstly, you donate your dress to another woman via a charity like Wish for a Wedding where they help arrange a wedding day to remember.
This is specifically for people who have a terminal or life-shortening illness and have a low income or are in receipt of benefits.
Alternatively, your dress can be remade into gowns or outfits for babies who didn’t spend long in this world with charities like Cherished Gowns.
Giving clothes to a charity shop is an obvious one.
You may be tempted to give your clothes away in the bags that come through the letterbox, but be aware that not all the money made from these goes to the charity.
The bags are distributed by private companies who sell your stuff to make a profit. They do give some of the money they raise to the charity shown on the bag.
If you look closely at the plastic bag, it will usually give a percentage of what the charity will get.
It may be more convenient to give unwanted clothes away like this if you’re short on time or would struggle to get your donation to a high street charity shop but just wanted you to be aware.
If you’re donating clothes or other things directly to a charity shop, and are a UK taxpayer, then you can make sure they get even more by gift aiding your donation.
Gift Aid only applies when you give money, so for this to work, you have to give permission for the charity shop to act as an agent to sell your stuff for you.
You’ll get an email when your stuff sells, and you’ll then donate the sale proceed and an additional 25% Gift Aid donation from the government.
So, if you give them a jumper which sells for £10, they’ll get an additional £2.50 for free on top.
Donate with your steps
I’m not talking about setting up a sponsored run or doing a marathon (although that can raise money too) – you’re able to donate money to charity simply by walking.
The Sweatcoin app tracks your daily outside steps and credit builds up over time.
You can choose to swap your points for products, or you can choose to help crowdfund towards a charitable cause.
At the moment, they are raising funds to support the education of disadvantaged children in Columbia, get strollers for refugee children in Greece and provide free health check-ups for people in Mali.
If you’re shopping anyway
Even when saving money, everyone needs to shop for something at some point.
But, did you know that you can give to charity while shopping online too?
The voucher code site Savoo gives to charity with each deal you use – so you make a saving and a charity gets some money.
Using a cashback site like Quidco means you may want the cashback in your pocket, but you can choose to donate it to charity instead. On top of your cashback, you can also Gift Aid the donation to add an extra 25% on top.
Also, if you’re an Amazon shopper, they’ll donate to a charity of your choice when you shop.
You need to sign up for Amazon Smile through the site, and 0.5% of your purchases will be donated to charity.
Did you know there is an International Ring Pull Day in September?
Organised by Purple Community Fund, the day helps raise awareness that the little pulls on your empty can will be put to good use.
Instead of sending them to the recycling centre, they turn the ring pulls into a range of eco-fashion handbags, clothing and accessories.
It may take you a while to collect them alone, so why not look to start a joint collection with friends, at work, or at your kid’s school.
Get the exceptional feeling knowing you’re saving someone else live by giving blood (if you can).
It really doesn’t hurt, and you get a cuppa tea and biscuits for free afterwards.
The app is really handy and can track how many times you’ve donated, as well as let you know when there are appointments locally to you.
It’s urgent more people start donating blood. They are looking for 135,000 new donors a year to replace those who can no longer donate, so you could really be helping.
Donate bone marrow
Some diseases, like leukaemia, aplastic anaemia and other diseases of the immune system, may be cured with a stem cell transplant – which we all can give for free.
To join the British Bone Marrow Registry, you can simply ask the next time you give blood. They will take an extra blood sample and add you to the register where your details wait until there is a potential match.
Keep in mind that this is a big commitment if you are matched (although you can withdraw whenever you want).
Donate cord blood
Having a baby? Congratulations!
After the birth of your baby, consider donating cord blood which could help someone in the future.
Instead of being discarded, blood is collected from the placenta and umbilical cord.
Stem cells can then save lives with clinical transplants or be used in research for new cell therapies.
Being able to help get the message out there is really valuable for charities and local community groups.
The internet is getting bigger, and everyone is shouting louder, which can make it harder for important messages to get out there.
You can easily help by sharing, commenting and liking social media posts of charities you support.
This helps their “reach” (which is how many people see it) and can help raise awareness to your own network.
We regularly share things from debt charities and food banks near where we live, as well as working with charities on a pro-bono basis.
The more people can find out that there is help and support out there, the better.
Nothing to do on a Saturday night? Instead of sitting at home, get online.
There are some awesome communities of people all over the internet sharing support, guidance, tips, advice, words of wisdom with others.
Not having met another person before, you’re able to give time and be there via the internet.
You can get tips to stretch money or help with debt, but you can also pass on your own knowledge too.
If you’re in debt and are working your way to clearing it, or just starting out, head over to Instagram and follow #debtfreecommunityUK.
Here, people (mostly anonymously) talk about daily steps to rid themselves of debt or talk about money troubles. It’s a great forum to find out how others are managing and, again, share your time.
If you’re got time in real life, why not look to volunteer locally?
Maybe your kid’s school PTA is looking for volunteers, or they need someone to help with a summer fair?
What about a local community group who collect roadside rubbish?
Or could you be a befriender and spend time with someone in your community who may not get out much?
Maybe you have a local hospital radio who could use someone to help play tracks, read the weather or collect requests?
Giving your time doesn’t mean having to give up your job as there are loads of volunteering opportunities that can be done at any time of the day or night.
Raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind
Now, if you have a lot of time and commitment, then this may be an option for you.
You could become a Puppy Walker and raise a puppy to become a guide dog.
This will be a LOT of work. You’ll take a puppy from around seven weeks and care, feed and train them.
You’ll have to teach basic obedience commands and let the puppy experience different people, sounds and situations.
From a cost point of view, you’ll only need your time. Basic equipment, vets bills and food costs are covered by the charity.
The biggest cost is having to say goodbye when the puppy reaches 12-14 months old as they’ll need to move on to specialist training.
If you’re interested, you’ll need to see if there’s an opportunity near you with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and undergo an interview.
:: Hopefully, that gives you loads of ideas and ways to donate to charity with spending too much money. Is there anything else you do that we’ve missed from the list?
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Naomi knows the burden of living on very little and became debt free by learning from past mistakes and following her own money saving tips and tricks.