Donate things you don’t need
We all have things in our homes that we don’t need, such as clothing, toys, furniture and sports gear. Rather than throwing them out, take gently used, unwanted items to charitable organizations and thrift stores.
It’s a great way to extend their life and help people in need, not to mention declutter your home.
To keep things manageable, tackle one area of your home at a time, including the closets, garage, basement and other spaces that often become dumping grounds for unneeded items. Sort things into categories: keep, toss, fix, sell or give away. Get your whole family involved and clear that clutter!
Give your time to charity
Canadians of all ages are generous with their time. In 2010, we spent two billion hours volunteering, says Statistics Canada.
Raising money and putting on events were the most common activities, followed by serving on a committee or board; providing teaching or mentoring; collecting, serving or delivering food; providing counselling or advice; and helping out with office work.
Even if you can only spare a few hours a month, many organizations could use your help. Find opportunities through Volunteer Canada, Get Volunteering, GetInvolved.ca and Charity Village.
Devote your dollars
For many charities, the most helpful gift you can give is money. Every year, Canadians generously contribute – in 2010 alone, we gave $10.6 billion, an average of $446 per donor.
Contact your favourite charities or visit their websites to donate – every little bit helps. To find charities or fundraise for causes you support, visit CanadaHelps.org. You can set up monthly giving, which is more beneficial than year-end giving because it helps charities reduce administrative costs and make cashflow more predictable. You can also donate securities (stocks, bonds and mutual funds) or leave a legacy (a gift in your will).
Need information about a charity? Visit the Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities Listings to learn about their activities and finances. The CRA also provides information about charitable tax credits, including a calculator.
Help reduce hunger pains
Across Canada, people don’t have enough to eat. Food Banks Canada reports that about 850,000 people get assistance from food banks each month, and more than a third are children and youth.
How can you get involved? Donate food or money, volunteer at a food bank or fundraise. You can also support a food rescue program such as Second Harvest, which picks up donated surplus food (from retailers, restaurants, caterers and manufacturers) and delivers it to community agencies in Toronto. (Want to start a food rescue program in your area? Read tips from New York’s City Harvest.)
You can also contribute your time and talents to Food Secure Canada, a national coalition working to reduce hunger and ensure safe, healthy, sustainable food.
Share your skills
Like other kinds of organizations, charities often need specific skills to support their projects and campaigns. Consider using what you know!
You might be surprised at the breadth of skills that charitable organizations are looking for. Recent postings on GetInvolved.ca, for instance, included requests for an IT consultant, a graphic designer, a researcher, social media volunteers, a translator, a gardening animator and public relations specialists.
See if there’s a match out there for your talents! You can refine your search for volunteer opportunities based on your interests and the skills you’d like to contribute.