You can write a cheque and mail it to your favourite charity. You can even phone them or check out their website and donate. This article, however, is about some more obscure ways to support your valued causes which may optimize the benefit of your donation for both you and your choice of charity.
Choose the Best Route for Your Donation to Your Favourite Charity: Maximize Contribution Matches
Too often in recent years a major natural disaster has devastated a part of the world where
the economy is already shaky. The Boxing Day Tsunami, the floods in Pakistan, the earthquake in Haiti are just a few that I remember too vividly. When these disasters attacked, many of us fought back the only way we could imagine: with money.
Our family donated generously to try to help in the aftermath of these events. We donated quickly, however we also scouted out the optimal way to donate. For example, we could have donated by sending a cheque to the Red Cross, by sending a cheque to the fund at our place of worship, or we could have donated through my husband’s place of work. The first two would have resulted in the aid agency getting our donation plus a matching donation from the Canadian government.
However, by donating through my husband’s place of work we had the donation first matched by his company, thus doubling it. Then the government matched both his and his employer’s donation. This resulted in 4 times more money going to the aid group than we spent. It was twice as much as if we’d donated directly to the aid agency. And it cost us nothing.
Recommendation: Before donating, do a quick check to see if there are ways to have your donation matched. Be especially on the lookout for multiple matches.
Look for Ways to Buy What You Need While Contributing to Charity
This is another route to donating that should cost you nothing but should be positively helpful.
If you are planning to make a purchase at the regular retail price, take a minute to check if there is a way to buy the item in a way that the retail margin goes to support charity.
For example, you may want to buy a subscription to a magazine. Magazines often have a high retail markup, even on subscriptions. There is an organization called QSP that provides most of the retail margin on a subscription to a fundraising group. Many parents of school age children will already know this as their school may participate.
For example, by simply buying a subscription to a magazine, you could be donating up to 40% of the price of your subscription to a school or other fundraising group. If you don’t have children or grandchildren in the program, ask at work or amongst your friends and you will likely find someone who does. You can even just randomly pick a school or organization from the website to support!
Another example of this is buying merchandise from Habitat for Humanity ReStores. The profits from your purchases help fund their programs. There are other charitable groups that run stores as well.
Gift Buying Scores Big Win for Charity
Keeping your mind in a charitable frame can help you spot other opportunities. While visiting a Potter’s Guild show, I noticed some bowls that would make a nice gift for a friend. However, these bowls would end up being a gift to far more than the happy couple-to-be.
The bowls were donated to the Guild show to be sold for a local food bank. So when I bought these bowls as a needed gift, I was actually paying the food bank for them. To make it even better, the Guild had arranged for corporate sponsors. Each time a bowl was sold, the sponsors contributed a matching amount to the food bank.
This was a win-win-win. I got the needed gift. The food bank got my money and the corporate matching money. And to complete the circle, the potter who donated the bowl got a charitable receipt for the initial value (not the matched value) of the bowl from the food bank. That helped the potter recover some of the costs for time, equipment, fuel, supplies and transportation.
Other quick wins include buying something to support a charity that you can use to avoid buying something else. For example, if we need to provide the snack for a youth group, we may buy the popcorn from the Scouts rather than buy it from a retail store. (And remember I HAD to buy that Scouts’ popcorn anyway if I wanted to keep family harmony and stay in the will.)
- Maximize the Benefit of your Donations to Charity: Helping Food Banks Feed the Most
- Optimize your Donations to Charity: Take Advantage of Taxes
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores
Have you come up with unexpected ways to contribute to charity at less cost to yourself, or for more benefit for the charity? Please share your experiences with a comment.