4 Easy, No-Cost Ways to Supercharge Your Year-End Giving

Dec 13, 2018 | by The Salvation Army

Eggnog lattes in hand. Twinkly, colorful lights brightening the streets. An unending list of year-end parties, events, and get-togethers. The holidays can be a truly magical time.

Yet even well-off families can feel the financial strain that often comes along with the holiday madness. Even with all the deals and discounts, there are so many costs: presents, decorations, travel expenses, party supplies, food, and the list goes on.

These financial setbacks are increasingly difficult for low-income families who struggle to make ends meet. The loss of free and reduced school lunch programs during winter break can mean kids go hungry. High Silicon Valley rents and increased utility usage can mean that families have to choose between heating their home and purchasing a gift for Christmas morning.

During the holidays, we see much greater community needs, and thankfully our donors, volunteers, and supporters frequently rise to the occasion to help meet those. If you feel that money is already tight this holiday season, but still want to make a difference for Silicon Valley families, here are four simple ways that you can supercharge your year-end giving without paying extra.

Employee Matching

Many companies offer charitable matching programs that promise to match employee donations to approved charities, up to a certain amount. If you’ve already donated to The Salvation Army this year, see if you can double your impact by taking advantage of the charitable matching program at your company.

Keep in mind that while some companies have rules in place that prohibit matching gifts to religiously affiliated nonprofits (such as The Salvation Army), many employees have been able to get around this rule by speaking directly with HR personnel and explaining the breadth of programs offered.

Charitable Gift Giving

Still have a lengthy holiday shopping list that’s stressing you out? Can’t think of a meaningful gift for the person on your list who seems to have everything? Charitable gift giving could be the way to go! There are many ways to use the money you already budgeted for gifts to make a bigger impact:

  1. Donate in your friend or loved one’s name. Sure, you could get them another pair of slippers, but wouldn’t it be more meaningful to give the gift of a life changed? Support a cause or nonprofit they’ve mentioned previously, and write a card explaining the impact that money will have on the life of someone else. Many organizations (like ours!) allow you to send an email or card directly from the donation page!

  2. Buy gifts from nonprofits or companies that give back. There are so many nonprofits and socially conscious companies that now make gift-giving an opportunity to give back. There are one-for-one movements like Toms (they give a pair of shoes to someone in need with every pair purchased); businesses that donate a portion of proceeds like Cuddle + Kind (every stuffed animal purchased provides free meals to hungry children); mission-driven businesses that support a cause like The Giving Keys (creates employment opportunities for homeless individuals); nonprofits that offer gifts with donations (WWF provides cute stuffed animal gifts when you “adopt” an endangered species); and nonprofits that connect you to artisan-made goods that directly support families in poor areas of the world (such as World Vision). Not only can you give a cool, unique gift, but you’ll know that the money you spend is going to a good cause, not just to fund a CEO’s salary.

Switch to AmazonSmile

Do you love free two-day shipping, endless gift options, and all the convenience and flexibility that Amazon has to offer? We do too. Now, with one simple change (just typing five letter, in fact), your purchases can give back to your favorite charities, too.

When you shop on smile.amazon.com (instead of www.amazon.com), Amazon automatically donates a portion of your purchase to a charity of your choosing. It’s the exact same shopping experience and the exact same perks for you, but with the added bonus that everything you buy also gives a little back. To start using AmazonSmile, just replace the “www” in any Amazon link with “smile”, where you pick the charity you’d like to support.

Donate Unwanted Gifts

Know your kids will never wear those pajamas grandma gifted them? Don’t want one more throw blanket to take up space in the already stuffed linen closet? It’s easy to keep unwanted gifts long after the holidays. We feel bad about giving brand new items away or try to talk ourselves into believing that someday we’ll actually need a fourth set of dishes.

Don’t get hung up on Receiver’s Remorse. By graciously and joyfully accepting someone’s gift and thanking them for their thoughtfulness and effort, you’re fulfilling your role as a recipient. Now, you’re free to give those gifts to people who many actually adore them, no guilt required. We sell your donations at The Salvation Army Family Stores, and proceeds are used to fund our Adult Rehabilitation Centers. By giving away a gift that would sit unused and add clutter to your house, you’ll provide hope and resources to help addicts reunite with their families and reenter society as a helpful member. What a beautiful way to regift!

Your Year-End Gift Changes Lives

Whether you plan to donate funds, volunteer with us, or supercharge your impact using one of the above methods, your year-end gift literally changes lives. For more than 100 years, we’ve fed the hungry, housed the homeless, given hope to the hopeless, and provided children with a safe, encouraging space to blossom into the adults they are meant to be. Thanks to your support, we’ll keep growing our impact in years to come.

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