Photo: ThinksockBy Leigh Newman
Slightly altering how you donate your time or money boosts the real benefits to the organizations you support.
Celebrate the Holidays by Not Volunteering
We all want to help out when the whole world-meter maids and landlords included-feels infused with joy and gratitude. This is why soup kitchens and retirement homes are overrun with volunteers during Thanksgiving and the December holidays. Consider lending a hand during slower, lonelier times instead, like January (the stay-at-home month) or the summer (the travel and beach season), when your energy and efforts will be most appreciated.
The Group Gift Hug
Pooling money with neighbors, family or friends makes a bigger impact on the cause you're supporting and boosts the sense of accomplishment you'll feel about what you're all doing. (Building, say, a whole house for somebody instead of just a basement sure can give you the warm fuzzies.) Not to mention it's a way to celebrate a sense of community as well as generosity. Don't have time to organize your own circle? Join an already formed one on Giving Circles Network which lists more than 250.
Cash, Not Cans
Two-serving cans of food-the kind we all keep in our cupboards and then give away during food drives at schools and churches-are really expensive when you factor in price per ounce. Food pantries get a lot more beans or tuna for the buck when they buy in larger, industrial sizes. So donate cash, not cans-and let them stock the shelves with the bulk items they need most.
Most companies match at least some of your 401(k) contributions, but many also match your charity dollars-allowing you to double your gift. Investigate whether your employer participates in this kind of program, and if it doesn't, bring up the idea at, say, the office holiday party-when everyone is feeling jolly.
RELATED: 6 Ways Giving Makes You Healthy
Not Everybody Wants a Pig
It seems as though anyone would love a piglet for Christmas-or at least a picture of the one that is soon to help a farmer in Uganda start his own business, thanks to your donation in another person's name. But what if that person doesn't love livestock? What if she'd prefer a well in China or 10 vaccinations in Laos? With the Global Giving Gift Card, your friends and family can pick the projects they wish to support-and on top of the giving karma, you'll earn a dollop of gratitude for being thoughtful.
KEEP READING: 4 More Ways to Give Better This Holiday Season
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