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Trying to give more

January 21st, 2013 at 09:24 am

Hubby and I are making an effort to give more this year, as far as charity and philanthropy. We really want to make our money go as far as it can, and have been thinking a lot about maximizing the impact of our donations.

Do you guys have any suggestions?

Right now, volunteering is out, just because we are so stretched between caring for a 3 and 4 year old, and work.

On the money front, we have set up automatic monthly donations to some organizations and causes we feel strongly about. It isn't much, usually $10 a month, but we thought it was better than nothing and much easier and more painless than trying to send a big check every once in a while.

We're sending $10 a month to

-a nonprofit oceans research and preservation group
-the local food bank
-the local homeless family shelter and preschool

We also heard a spot on NPR about a group called http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/
and we liked their philosophy of choosing causes and organizations that can save the most lives or quality life-hours for each dollar. Mostly deworming and mosquito net programs in Africa. But, we haven't done anything on that front yet.

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We also donate toys every year to the county foster care toy drive, usually fulfilling two children's wish list and donating an assortment of toys. Well, as you know, toys aren't cheap before Christmas. And we've been limited as to how much we can do as a result.

So, I've decided to start stockpiling quality toys throughout the year for this organization, nabbing them when I see them at a really good clearance or sale price. So far, I've gotten 6 nice barbies and disney princess dolls for $3 to $4 each, an $8 less-than-half-price hotwheels car and track set, and two bins of new legos for about 60 percent off. (and an assortment of small monster trucks and construction vehicles). My hope is to have an overflowing box of awesome stuff to donate to the toy drive next year.

I've been picking up one or two 'deal' toys once a week when I go shopping. It adds to the bill, but not so much that we'll be out of money.

That's got me thinking about some other things we could maybe do throughout the year so we can give more without breaking the bank.

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Our son's school also supports a Christmas church 'store' in a nearby impoverished county. The church accepts used toys, coats, and blankets, cleans and repackages them, and the parents come and 'shop' for the kids. It's a great program.

I'm thinking of setting aside some of our boys' outgrown toys for that next year, and I'm thinking of buying up some coats of various sizes at yard sales this year to donate to them, as well as to the local coat drive for the homeless family shelter.

The only problem with stockpiling like this is space. Where can I keep all the coats and toys until it's time to donate them?

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I'd also like to donate some of our outgrown children's items such as books, etc. to a group that would really benefit. We usually drop off at goodwill, but I wonder if there are any preschools or family shelters that would be interested in our library of baby books, and (soon) toddler books, etc. I would really like it if the things we donate could really e utilized to their maximum potential, but I have no idea where to even start?

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Finally, I did stumble upon DonorsChoose.org where teachers post projects they need funding for and you can donate. We donated $40 to various schools in high poverty areas wanting to plant big food gardens to teach the kids science and to supplement their lack of fresh food at home. Those are completely in line with our values.

I like that site a lot because you can choose by city, by project, by high poverty etc. and there is always a project that matches your interests.
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9 Responses to “Trying to give more”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    Have you considered one of those micro-loan places, like Kiva? If I understand correctly, it's just a loan and your money usually gets paid back to you. Then you could loan it out repeatedly and the money would make a difference over and over again.

    I keep meaning to check that out, but then something else comes up and I donate my allocated money elsewhere. One of these days I'll try it.

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    That is a good idea. I will check that out.

  3. Joanie Says:

    Kiva is wonderful. You can choose among many, many borrowers and places in the world and loan as little as $25. at a time. I've made 32 loans over the past 3 years and have always been paid back. I just keep plowing the $ back each time and adding a little more each year. Kiva charges $3.95 per transaction for operating costs and that amount is tax deductible. Let me know if you want me to send you a Kiva invite.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    I *really* dislike donorschoose. They choose ridiculously priced items and charge a lot of fees.

    Our kids' teacher was asking an insane sum for a classroom video camera, through the site, and we approached him and said we would be willing to buy it outside of donorschoose. Because it would cost a small fraction to buy new. He readily accepted. He tried to defend the site, but didn't turn us down. You may want to try to contact the teachers directly and to make similar offers. OR to just approach some of these schools directly for some wish lists.

    The parents in this one class were usually pretty open with their wallets, but I will tell you none of them was contributing to that racket. They also tend to be pretty financially sensible. Which obviously you are very sensible, but maybe did not notice as much because it was a smaller dollar amount. Just be careful that most the money really goes to the classroom.

    In contrast, I really like the "buying toys on clearance" idea - getting much more bang for your buck.

  5. Carolina Girl Says:

    What a great reminder for all of us. No matter how bad things can seem, there is always a greater need. My family participates in Operation Christmas Child. We find inexpensive items throughout the year and in October we make up our boxes. These are shipped around the world. I try to find clearance seasonal items to fill these with - small toys, pencils, etc. I have found flip flops for 90% off at dollar general before to go in the boxes. This is just one of the things my family participates in. Whatever you decide on, your heart is in the right place. Keep up the great work!

  6. SecretarySaving Says:

    I use Compassion International. It is a Christian based organization. You can purchase chicken, pigs, medical supplies, blankets, mosquito nets, etc.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    MM, that's interesting about donor's choose. It's only for public schools, so I haven't looked into it. For private schools there is adopt a classroom (I think that's what it is called.) I'm not sure if it is the same philosophy or not though.

    Thrift - I'd add my voice to Kiva. If I ever have money above my tithe/offering that I want to put towards a good cause, that is probably the way I'd go (well ... other than buying stuff for the library of course ... Big Grin )

  8. ThriftoRama Says:

    As far as Donorschoose, I did notice in the breakdown of costs for the project that an amount was included as an optional (chosen by the school) donation to the group/site to keep it going. The projects we funded, pricewise, didn't seem to be out of line.

    Any suggestions for searching for the most worthy projects on Kiva? I looked at the site briefly today and wasn't too drawn in by the people/projects I saw. One was for a lady in Florida asking for $9,000 to buy inventory for her perfume business. Not what I had in mind...

  9. ThriftoRama Says:

    Well, I know you guys are down on DonorsChoose, but I just got a personal note from one of the teachers I donated to. It was very nice! I also checked them out on charity navigator and they are above board, so to speak, so I think I might stick with it.

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