Research shows that one of the best ways to “buy” happiness is to spend money on others. But when you’re living paycheck to paycheck or trying to pay down debt, it can be tough to have any extra cash to give away. Plus, you always hear about three or four-figure donations— what good can a few bucks do?
But there are more and more opportunities these days to make a big difference with just a few dollars or even a few cents. Aided by the power of social media, these so-called “micro-donations” can help a cause snowball and have the added benefit of giving you a psychological boost. Here, how to make a difference — with less than a $1.
1) Call your local homeless shelter and ask what they need. Buying a pack of socks, underwear, or toothbrushes can make a tangible difference to their guests.
2) Make a decision to donate a set amount of cash when friends and family members are fundraising. Having a blanket rule — you give the price of a cup of coffee to everyone who asks — alleviates the need to choose which causes are “worth” supporting. Plus, you’ll always feel good about helping your friends.
3) Clean out your closet, bring the goods to a resale shop, and donate the cash you get back to a charity of your choice.
4) Put your spare change in a jar every day. When it’s full, donate it to a cause.
5) Create a giving club. Have a few friends who also want to donate more, but feel like their checkbooks can’t stretch that far? Each month, pool together your funds and decide where to give. The meeting is an IRL way to feel the social power of microdonations.
6) Donate reward points to charity. If you have a credit card, it may be possible to give those points or rewards to charity, you just have to research whether your credit card has the options.
7) Keep an “emergency fund.” Not sure who needs a donation most? Instead of giving when you feel eh about a cause, consider putting $1 a day (or even once a week) in a jar. This is your “other emergency fund” to be deployed when a crisis happens — either one on a global scale or one that rocks your community. When something hits, you’ll have a fund to comfortably give from.