Updated December 2020
There are numerous charity appeals all year round but they are especially noticeable at Christmas. It can be difficult to choose who to support particularly when your own budget is being stretched. Here are some easy ways that you can give for free or very cheaply to help those in need all year round:
* Give your unwanted gifts and bottles of drink to your local school or hospice for their tombola and raffle.
* If you are on O2 or Vodaphone you can install their app and collect free gifts and food from WHSmith, Halfords and Hotel Chocolat amongst others, then donate as gifts and prizes.
* If you buy Yeo Valley yogurt, you will find a code under the lid. Enter that code into the Yeo Valley website and donate the tokens to a choice of 3 charities each year.
* Install the Greggs app and give the free hot food and drink to a homeless person.
* Keep an eye on Facebook money saving groups for SoPost offers. Most are sample sizes but sometimes you can get items suitable for making up hampers or small gift/food items. I’ve recently “won” some miniature alcohol bottles which have gone in the foodbank, and a huge amount of make-up and toiletry miniatures which have gone to a women’s refuge.
* Ever noticed the competitions on sweets, booze and cereal boxes where you just have to enter a code online to see if you have won a prize? Recently I’ve won 2 t-shirts which have I’ve donated to the homeless shelter.
* Some of the bigger charities sell raffle tickets or scratch cards during this period. Buy one for each family member and put it in their Christmas Cracker on the dinner table. Again tick the Gift Aid box when making your payment.
* If you’re clearing out clothes and have a hat, scarf, and gloves, maybe an old sleeping bag or coat then fill a rucksack and give it to a homeless person or shelter. (See The Rucksack Project, Pillow in the Park and similar causes.) This can be done after Christmas too if you get given new ones as gifts.
* Everyone knows that charity shops always welcome new and used items, but did you know they also collect RAGS? Any old sheets, towels, textiles, underwear, and clothes, can be dropped off as they are sold by weight or per bag with the charity getting the cash. (They can have holes in them, just be sure to say it’s for the rag bag and make sure they are clean.)
* If you travel, bring back your unused miniature toiletries from hotels and planes and make up as a hamper for a raffle prize or donate loose items to shelters and foodbanks.
* There are now many organisations that are holding shoebox appeals for local children in need and the elderly. They ask for donations for the contents but also wrapping paper, sellotape and even the shoe boxes themselves so you can still help out with out it costing anything at all.
* If you have a collectable item or are able to make up a hamper of unwanted gifts, hold your own online auction amongst your friends on social media and donate the money to your chosen charity.
* You can get free items by using coupons, cashback apps and BOGOFs. Give the food and toiletries to your local foodbank or homeless shelter.
Coupons – sign up to John West, Princes, New Covent Garden Soup, Victoria and Supersavvyme who will often have coupons for free/cheap items especially if bought on offer.
Cashback – join Quidco ClickSnap, Topcashback Snap&Save, Shopmium who will give you cashback when you submit your receipt against purchases. There have been free fizzy drinks, chocolate, teabags, baby foods and snacks in the past. Redeem every offer and give away what you don’t need.
BOGOFS – all supermarkets have half price and Buy One Get One Free offers. Keep one and give the other away.
Reduced Shelves – most supermarkets will have a reduced shelf for non-perishables. It’s always worth checking for items where the packaging has been damaged or updated and stock that is still in date is sold off cheaply.
* Superdrug and Bodyshop sometimes have offers on if you spend X amount you get additional items free. Donate the free items to charity shops or tombolas.
* Many people now give money to charity instead of sending Christmas cards. If you do this please make sure you tick the GIFT AID box where an additional 25% will be added by the Government if you are a taxpayer.
* If you do still send cards, consider buying them from a charity or charity shop.
* You can also buy new and used gifts from charity shops. Many now stock lots of gift items.
* Buy in the post Christmas sales (or throughout the year) for items to donate next year and hide away in the loft. After Boxing Day you will find many Christmas items reduced to pennies.
* In the summer, people often sell new items at car boots, all in perfect new condition and at silly prices, meaning you can afford to buy and give to someone in need.
* You can even give away your rubbish to raise money via the Terracycle scheme or by giving resources to charities such as schools and community groups. Read more about that in my post about ways to recycle, redistribute and reuse your rubbish.
* Also check with your local charities to see if they have any affiliate schemes running with companies like Amazon whereby your place an order as normal and they receive a percentage back of what you spend. It will not cost you any extra.
* Schools often have deals like with The Book People and similar where they get a % of sales back in books or money.
* Give Blood. Not only will you be rewarded by knowing that you’ve helped to save someone’s life, but you’ll also find out what your blood group is and be rewarded with a cuppa and choice of snacks.
* Donating can also be by just giving up your time. So many charities and community groups need help from manpower.
* Start the Penny Jar Project in your work or family home (see link below for more info).
I support homeless charities and foodbanks on a regular basis throughout the year, but I like to give a little more at Christmas and by following some of the above tips I am able to donate at very little cost to:
the local foodbank,
2 local centres for the homeless and those alone,
a shoe box appeal for the local elderly,
local infant school,
local toy appeal,
The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice charity shop,
and several people living on the street.
Celebrate Christmas by giving to someone less fortunate.
Check out other posts of giving in my Awareness, Kindness & Celebrations and Money Saving sections (links below) including How to be a Savvy Shopper which goes into more detail on how you can get more free items to donate to charity.
You may like to read about:
* The Penny Jar Project
* Ways to Reuse, Redistribute and Recycle Your Rubbish
* 28 Random Acts of Kindness
Do you have more ideas that I can add to this list?
What charities do you like to support at Christmas?