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Make your charity dollar go further

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We’re all feeling the effects of a lackluster economic right now, so you can imagine how much tighter the budget belt must feel for people who didn’t have much to begin with. It’s become more difficult for charities to help others, too — which means that now is the perfect time to do a little bit more. Even though times are tight, there are plenty of ways to give — and to let your dollar do more than you thought it could. Here are fiveoptions:

1.) Donate to individuals to help them start a business. Kiva allows you lend small amounts of money to entrepreneurs for whom a little goes a long way. Each small business’ fundraising goals are quite modest — $425 for a woman to purchase used clothing to sell in Ghana, $825 for a construction business in Mozambique — and $25 helps a lot.

2.) Give to organizations that encourage independent living. Just $20 can buy a flock of chicks for a hungry family in Tanzania, for example, providing them with a source for food as well as an income. Heifer International has many gift options at different price points, from $20 to $5,000, and the animals you underwrite are worth so much more than the money it cost to buy them.

3.) Donate online while you’re doing other things. Click through online malls that send a portion of your purchase prices to charity, like, or click on the buttons at and give money without spending a cent.

4.) Donate time instead of money. You don’t have to do it right around the holidays. Volunteer at a soup kitchen later this winter, sign up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, read to kids at a hospital… the possibilities are endless.

5.) Donate what you no longer need. The coat your child outgrew before she even had a chance to really break it in could keep another kid warm this winter if you donate it to One Warm Coat or a similar organization. Goodwill and the Salvation Army take items other than clothing. And those great books and DVDs you no longer read or watch could go to your local library if they’re still in great shape.

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