Wallet-Friendly Ways to Make a Difference this Holiday Season!

Money, versus compassion. Meeting your budget, versus making a difference. Tight finances, versus a generous heart. Unfortunately, it often feels like lack of funds equals lack of impact, even when you care deeply about issues involved and very much want to be a part of change and progress.

So what can we to do when money is tight but we still want to make a difference? Yes, time is the most generous gift of all, which makes volunteer efforts and opportunities hugely meaningful... but what about in addition to that? Here are a few of the best online "free donation" opportunities that I've found lately.  Drumroll please!

Birds Eye: "Help Kids Eat Better" Anytime during the month of December, "like" Birds Eye Vegetables on facebook and they will donate $1 on your behalf towards eradicating childhood hunger with the organization Share Our Strength.  According to the site, "One click. One dollar. One big difference. For every “like” on our Facebook page, we’ll donate $1 (up to $50,000) to Share Our Strength to help Feed Kids Better. Join in, and we’ll give you a coupon for Birds Eye veggies, too. Hurry, ends 12/31"  So far, they have only received 37% of the clicks they need to reach their goal of $50,000, so they still have a ways to go!

Kenmore: "Baking for the Troops"  "Like" Kenmore Ovens on facebook and they will send a soldier stationed overseas a dozen cookies on your behalf, personalized with a message from you.   According to the site, "All cookies sent to the troops are 100% natural and fresh baked by Katy's LLC, a company dedicated to supporting the military community.  Rich in fiber and high in protein, Katy's cookies are the ideal treat for soldiers away from home.  Kenmore is working with military partners, Operation Support Our Troopis Illinois (OSITIL) and the United Service Organizations (USO), to ensure the cookies are received by the troops during the holiday season."

Barilla Pasta: "Share the Table"  This next one is perfect for people without a facebook account... simply stop by the Barilla Pasta website and click "Yes, I believe in meaningful meals" to donate $1 to Meals on Wheels.  So far 72,424 people have clicked, which translates into a really sizable donation overall!  You can click on this one to donate every time you clear the cookies on your computer (and if you don't know what I'm talking about, PLEASE, for your own web-browsing security, google it or ask a techie friend...).

Free Rice This hugely addictive "quiz" game has been a favorite of mine for a while. You can play with vocabulary, math and chemistry facts, geography, even art if you like, but regardless of which you choose each correct answer will result in 10 grains of rice being donated to the UN World Food program. I went over there just now to grab the link, and only managed to get off of the site 2,510 grains of rice later. Like I said... hugely addictive. The money for the rice is donated by the advertisers whose banners you'll see underneath the game play section... or if your computer screen is small like mine, the banners you won't see underneath the game play section. It's a fun and simple way to make a contribution and brush up on material from college courses that are being forgotten all too quickly. My best level so far on English vocabulary is 48. What about you?? No cheating allowed!!

The Hunger Site.
This site is similar to Free Rice in that the funds you're "donating" are provided by the sponsors whose ads are visible on the webpage. Unlike Free Rice there's a daily limit on how much you can participate, but since all it takes is a click, it's even more straight-forward. Make sure to tab through the list of charities at the top, so that you can make the most of your clicking. In the few seconds I was on the site, I donated .6 bowls of food to rescued animals, 1.1 cups of food to end hunger, and saved 11.4 square feet of rainforest, among other things. Slick, huh? ;P

Lunchables: Lunch Note Promise program. 
In return for a pledge to leave a surprise note in your child's lunch, Lunchables will donate $1 to Boys and Girls Clubs of America's creative programs, including MusicMakers, the National Fine Arts Exhibit, and Dance Stars of Tomorrow. You can also find fun lunch note downloads here as well, for a little added pizzaz.

Red Cross blood donation. This one isn't online of course, but since I was just discussing "highly personal" ways of making a difference, it still seemed like an important one to mention. Donating blood will cost you nothing but a half hour or so of your time, and can make a huge difference in the lives of up to 6 people. The need for blood donation is more pressing than you might think, as currently only 3 in 100 Americans give blood at all.

One of the best parts of these sites and opportunities is that you can fit them into your busy schedule now. You can take advantage of them right this second, while eating lunch, or waiting for that slow site to load, or that person to email you back... and if you're lucky enough to own a smart phone you can use them while sitting on the train on the way to work, or in that waiting room, or wherever you have a moment. Am I saying that these sites can replace more traditional volunteer and donation opportunities? Not a chance. But these sites are an easy, affordable way to supplement your other giving, especially when funds or time are particularly tight at the moment... a state of things that many of us wish wasn't quite so common these days. Don't let your slim wallet keep you from helping out someone who has even less than you! Take advantage of every opportunity to give back. :) 

This post is part of Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family.  Check it out for tips and ideas on all kinds of topics!


  1. Thank you! I often feel that I simply can't help out due to our meager budget, but this post shows me just how much I really CAN do!

  2. These are excellent ideas! Also, when I couponed, (like a crazy person!) I donated stuff that I got free, to the church food pantry, an orphan's home, and a homeless ministry, wherever was most appropriate. Need to get back into couponing!!


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