CBC News reported this week that lots of local charities have experienced a 40 to 50 percent drop in donations this year. It’s been an extremely hard year for many Albertans, which means that the services offered by these charities are in higher demand than ever, while their ability to deliver these essential services has diminished.
There are ways to support local charities and vulnerable community members without making cash donations. We’ve found some really creative ways to give back without spending any extra money this holiday season.
You would be surprised to discover that household items you no longer need or use could make a big difference to someone currently going without. And choosing to purchase things you need regardless from businesses who give back in a tangible way can also make a big impact.
Here are a some free ways to give back in YYC
Donate bottles and cans:
Save yourself a trip to the bottle depot and donate these space hogging recyclables to KidSport (http://www.kidsportcanada.ca/alberta/calgary/our-partners/recycle-for-life-partners/). They’ll even pick them up right from your home.
Your donation will help KidSport provide support to children in order to remove financial barriers that prevent them from playing organized sport.
Donate household items:
Replacing some furniture, or just have gently used pieces collecting dust in your basement or garage? Or children’s clothing that’s still in good shape but your child has outgrown? Donate them to the Women in Need Society. Here’s their current wishlist: http://www.womeninneed.net/donate/wish-list/, and they’ll come pick items up too.
Items donated to WINS help vulnerable families and individuals meet their basic needs while they work toward self-sufficiency.
Got credit card points?
Yep, you can donate those too (sometimes). Lots of financial institutions offer the option to donate your points (translating into a cash donation) to charity, with the specifics varying from bank to bank. See your bank’s website for details, or check out this list: http://canada.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/charity-credit_cards-1264/
If your financial institution doesn’t have this option, consider asking why not next time you call them. After all, you’re earning points for purchases you need to make anyway.
Donate computers and old electronics:
We all have an old computer or cell phone at home collecting dust. Clear them out this year and donate them to us! We’ll safely remove any data on equipment, refurbish what we can, and provide donations to vulnerable members of the community. We also have a fundraising program that, much like a bottle drive, results in a weight-based (cash) rebate that can be donated to the charity of your choice. Here’s a list of accepted items: https://www.era.ca/electronic-recycling-accepted-items/. ERA also offers pickup services.
Donate unused gift cards:
If you have a gift card sitting around that you haven’t used, consider donating it. You may even be eligible for a tax receipt. Canada Revenue Agency notes on its website that gift card donations are accepted as long as it’s clear what the value of the card is.
You can donate leftovers!
Well, you can support these businesses who do. We love this idea, and LeftOvers Calgary has taken thousands of pounds of fresh/perishable food that would have otherwise been thrown away (and, worldwide, half of all food produced is thrown away and wasted), and delivered it to charities including Calgary Drop-In Centre, Calgary Interfaith Food Bank, Alpha House, Making Changes Association and Inn from the Cold. Cobbs Bread alone has donated almost 19,000 pounds of food to date!
This means that vulnerable Calgarians get better access to fresh produce, bread and meat – things lots of us take for granted.
Check out their list here: http://rescuefood.ca/what-we-do/
Do business with companies committed to giving back:
How and where you choose to spend your money is powerful. There are hundreds of Canadian companies who are dedicated to giving back. By choosing to do business with or purchase from any of these organizations, you inherently support their charitable programs.
Here’s the list: https://charityvillage.com/directories/funders/corporate-funding-programs.aspx (this may not be complete, but its a great start)
Even if you’re short on money, your time can always make a big difference. And sometimes time is the most valuable commodity.
Did you know that there are hundreds of seniors in our city who will spend the holiday season alone? Your time could make a huge difference to one of them! Calgary Senior’s Resource Society (http://www.calgaryseniors.org/) can set you up.
If that doesn’t work for you, almost all charities are in need of some type of volunteer, so visit your favorite charity’s website to find out more.
Hopefully you can utilize one of these options to give back in YYC soon. For charitable organizations, every little bit helps, even if it seems small. If we’ve missed one that you’d like to see featured, please let us know.