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Charitable Giving: Three Easy-on-the-Budget Tips

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The holidays are here. Chestnuts are roasting, eggnog is chilling and people are busy making lists and checking them twice. Nonprofit organizations are also busy checking off their to-do lists and brightening the holidays for those less fortunate.

As we approach the end of 2012, Barb Larkin, CEO of the American Red Cross Silicon Valley, shares three easy and affordable ways you can help nonprofits during the holidays and year round, without putting a dent in your wallet.

Make a Difference…Together

There’s power in numbers. And the same applies to supporting nonprofits. Coordinate a volunteer activity with a group of friends and co-workers. Hosting a holiday party? Ask for donations, such as old winter coats or new, unwrapped toys, in lieu of hostess gifts. Many nonprofits also rely on the generosity of in-kind donations, such as office supplies, to help them cut costs and run more efficiently. Ask your favorite nonprofit what tops their in-kind wish list and see if you and a group of friends can help together.

Every Dollar Counts

A number of websites, such as greatnonprofits.org, networkforgood.org and donorschoose.org, make it easy to find and donate to nonprofit organizations. Many websites sell charitable gift cards, perfect for the person that has everything or as gifts for employees.

And if you’re on a budget and want to donate, Larkin emphasizes that every dollar counts. A $50 donation to the American Red Cross, for example, can provide one person with three meals, two blankets, one cot and personal supplies during a disaster.

Larkin also suggests asking whether your company offers donation matching for time and money. 

Protect Yourself and Your Money

Protect yourself and your finances when donating to a nonprofit.

“Don’t give any personal information such as your credit card over the phone,” advises Larkin. Instead, donate via a secure website or asked to be mailed a donation form.

And if you plan to volunteer at a nonprofit, it never hurts to ask for references. Legitimate nonprofits will happily connect you with seasoned volunteers who can answer your questions.

“Charitable giving is about following your passion and aligning with an organization that fits with your values,” said Larkin. “We appreciate every gift of time, talent and treasure.”

Holly Perez

Holly loves helping people better manage their money with her work with Quicken and Mint. You can also find her chasing after good bargains and her two boys.

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