Our Give List: Ways to Give Without Opening Your Wallet

The Give List is a growing and timely collection of “ways that you contribute without spending or buying. Or maybe giving while buying and spending a little less than usual.” Through blog posts, Twitter, and del.icio.us, individuals and organizations are suggesting alternative “gifts” this holiday season:

  • On Twitter, @kanter suggested donating your out of date equipment to a computer recycler like Free Geek.
  • @cybersibesk recommended donating blankets to an animal shelter. Shelters are being overwhelmed because people are losing their homes and can’t afford pets.
  • The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra blogged 16 great ideas, including “If you are a cafe/restaurant/bar owner, create a signature dish or drink and name it in honor of your favorite organization.”

We thought we’d chime in with just a few ideas for how you can use Idealist this season:

Organizations can…

  • Post volunteer opportunities: it’s free, people want to be involved, and with one or two group volunteer orientations, an organization can round up a big new group of volunteers ready to assist in their holiday work. Serving the community means a volunteer gives twice: once to the organization and once to the community or individual.
  • Post events. Hosting a holiday happy hour, new year fundraiser, training, lecture, or other gathering? Give your neighbors a chance to learn about your work and expand their networks.
  • Another event idea: if you have a bunch of old office furniture or supplies, why not hold an Open House and invite staff from other nonprofits to come claim what you don’t need?

Individual users can…

  • Look for an organization in the neighborhood that does work you admire and stop in to say “thank you, job well done”. You can also offer a gift, or a donation, or some volunteer time — but even a thank you can make a big difference.
  • Look for an org that does work your friend would admire and tell them about it in a way that doesn’t impose any burdens (“I know you like classical music so I thought you’d like to hear about this group that puts on concerts in the parks”). You can also do this with events.
  • If you know of organizations in your community that aren’t on Idealist, let them know that they can post volunteer opportunities for free!
  • Gift somebody the Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers if they don’t already know about it already. It’s easy and free — and a great resource! You can also buy them the book in print if they prefer to read something tangible.

If you know someone who’s deeply engaged in service through the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps or some other intensive volunteer program, check out Amy’s list of ways to show your corps member some love this holiday season. As a Peace Corps and Americorps vet, she knows what she’s talking about.

Posted by Julia.
[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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