15 Charitable Acts You Can Do on a Budget This Holiday Season

One coat could keep someone warm, one meal could relieve someone’s hunger, and one organ donor could save 75 lives. A single charitable act could put a smile on someone’s face, or even improve someone’s life — and it can all be done on a budget. While you’re gearing up for the holidays, it’s the perfect time to give back with charitable acts.

The Feeding America network gave out 3.6 billion meals to those in need in 2019. In the same year, roughly 55,800,719 people experienced homelessness. Throughout 2020, unemployment rates rose despite last year’s numbers — and you can help.

The holidays can put a lot of stress on your budget, but luckily, there are many ways to help your community without breaking the bank. The smallest acts of kindness could impact one, if not many, people in need.

Support Your Local Community

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Giving back can make you feel like a million bucks, but you don’t have to spend that much to help others. Spread the holiday spirit by giving back to your community, even on a budget.

1. Give Blood

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. is in need of blood. This act may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it could save lives. Blood donations are used for life-threatening circumstances like blood transfusions and serious injuries. By donating blood once, you could save up to three lives.

2. Donate Blankets and Coats

Seventeen out of 10,000 Americans were homeless in 2019. As the colder weather approaches, dig up blankets and coats you and your family don’t need and donate them. If you happen to find other items like a CD player or old books collecting dust, donate them as well! Warm coats, blankets, and fun games are thoughtful holiday gifts for those in need.

3. Shop at Stores that Give Back

When you go shopping, shop smart. Research and support companies that give back to charities and practice corporate social responsibility. Companies like TOMS Shoes donate a dollar for every three dollars they make. Plus, they help fund startups that also do good for their communities.

4. Sign Up to Be an Organ Donor

How heroic would you feel if you could save up to 75 lives? That’s how many people’s lives one person could touch being an organ donor. If you want to become a donor, contact your motor vehicle department and have them add it to your I.D. When you pass away, your organs could go to those who need them most.

5. Volunteer At Your Local Food Bank

If you don’t have much flexibility in your budget, give your time as a gift. Volunteer at your local food shelter to help sort, collect, and hand out food for families in need. Make it a family activity by checking this charitable act off your 30-day kindness challenge together.

Spread Kindness

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Spreading kindness doesn’t have to cost anything but your time. Share your time and give back to your community with small charitable acts. Who knows, these thoughtful acts could start a chain reaction of giving back.

6. Round-Up Your Purchases

You may have useless change laying around that could be put to use. Instead of letting your change collect over time, donate it to a charity of your choice. Start by connecting your online bank accounts to a trusty app like RoundUp. This app rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and donates your “extra change” to charity.

7. Give Holiday Cookies to the Homeless

Cookies add the perfect holiday touch to any moment. To get in the spirit, hand out your favorite baked goods. Have a baking night with your family and make holiday treats to give to local shelters. Before you start, check in with your local shelter to ensure you meet their packaging requirements. If you don’t, your favorite treats may not be served for safety reasons.

8. Donate Your Tax Refund

Your tax refund isn’t free, but it may be money you’ve budgeted without. Consider spending your tax refund on a charity instead of a new purchase. Even if you donate half or a quarter of your refund, this money could go a long way for those in need. Be sure to collect a receipt to turn into your accountant for tax season. Doing so could earn you a small bonus on your next refund.

9. Walk, Run, or Bike for a Cause

Get active with your loved ones to support a cause. Connect with your community and ask about any fundraising walks, runs, or bike rides. If there aren’t any events in the coming months, download an app like Charity Miles. All you have to do is log your workouts to raise money for a charity of your choice.

10. Hand Out Gift Cards

If you’re short on time, but have room in your budget, hand out gift cards to those in need. Go to a local grocery store or restaurant and purchase a few $5–10 gift cards. Keep these cards in your car to hand out to families you see in the street. For every charitable act you do, cut out our printable hearts and add them to a jar. See how full you can fill your jar before the holiday season comes to a wrap.

Encourage Others to Give Back

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While you give back to your community, make it a group activity. Invite your friends and family to attend charity events or host one of your own — the more the merrier!

11. Share Charity Events on Social Media

Inspire others by sharing your charitable acts on Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat stories. Be sure to tag any charities involved and anyone that attended the event. Spreading awareness is another way to help charities if you can’t afford a monetary donation.

12. Invite Your Friends to a Charity Event

Instead of having your weekly takeout dinner with friends and family, save your budget and give back. Get your loved ones in the holiday spirit and attend a charity event you all agree on. Save half of the money you would have spent on dinner and donate the other half. Take it a step further and make your charity get-together a monthly activity.

13. Ask Your Coworkers to Donate

Encourage others to give back by asking your coworkers to donate jackets and blankets they don’t use. When you and your family donate your items, you may be able to gift a full bin of clothes over a few jackets. Plus, you could save your coworkers time by making a donation run for them.

14. Advocate for Work Charity Matches

Check in on your company’s employee benefits for charity donation matches. If your company has one, consider donating your time or money to a charity for your employer to match. If your work doesn’t offer these benefits, advocate for them! Reach out to your HR department to see if they’d start one with your help.

15. Throw a Holiday-Themed Party for Charity

Holiday parties are perfect ways to spread kindness and raise awareness. To save your budget, host a holiday get-together at your place. Ask each guest to bring their favorite dish and a donation instead of a gift. Have your guests print out our charity goal tracker before attending your event. This could give them a newfound perspective of your events’ purpose.

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One random act of kindness could send ripples through your community. The most heart-warming gifts may be those that don’t cost a dime. As you and your loved ones prepare for the holidays, check in on your budget using our app to see what donations you can make. Whether you’re able to donate your coats or your tax refund, every act counts.

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