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Meaningful Ways to Give Back During the Holiday Season


This December, you’ll likely agree to add a dollar to the amount you pay at the grocery store, and you might slip some change into a Salvation Army bell ringer’s red kettle. While these small donations add up and are very appreciated, if you’re interested in doing more, here are some meaningful ways to give back this holiday season.

Research Your Charity.

You probably don’t do any research before putting a couple of coins in a jar, but if you’re making a more substantial donation, it’s smart to do your homework first.

There’s an abundance of charities to choose from. Whatever your favorite cause is – disadvantaged children, the homeless, disaster victims, the sick or abandoned pets – organizations exist to help. Not all these organizations are equally effective in their endeavors, however.

Charity Navigator rates charities in terms of their financial health and accountability and transparency. Charities that currently have perfect scores include, but aren’t limited to, the Wildlife Conservation Network, Amy Emergency Relief, Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, Kids Alive International and Rainforest Trust. By checking a charity’s rating, you’re ensuring that your donation makes a meaningful difference.

It’s Not Just About Cash.

Writing a check might be the easiest way to help a charity, but it’s far from the only way. If you don’t have money to spare this season, consider other ways of making a difference.

Instead of donating money, you can donate items. Several non-profits, for example, will take your old car. Others will also accept used boats. You can donate lightly used clothes, furniture, kitchenware, games and more to Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift stores.

If you don’t have money or stuff to donate, consider giving your time instead. Volunteer Match is a website that connects people with volunteer opportunities based on their needs and interests. Keep in mind that volunteers are needed year-round, not just around the holidays.

Another inexpensive way to make a real difference is to donate blood. To schedule a donation, check out the Blood Bank of Hawaii website. If you want to do even more, consider donating plasma. Your donation could save a life.

Don’t Forget About Taxes.

Your main concern might be helping others, but there’s no reason you can’t benefit, too. Donations to qualified charities, including cash and items, can be deducted from your taxes.