Friday, 22 November 2013

Frugal Friday...

These days it seems that there is organisation after organisation requesting that we had over some of our hard-earned to support their particular cause. Most recently it was Children in Need - everywhere you looked or listened on the BBC was full of bears wearing eyepatches!  Now although CiN is a wonderful cause, I'm not saying otherwise, it's not one I support actively, so I employed my usual "Quid in a bucket" approach. There are other charities that I do support actively - Hospices for example, particularly our wonderful local St Clare Hospice who were so amazing to both my Great Aunt when Bob was ill, and also to a good friend Sean who sadly lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, St Clare made Sarah's last days so much more comfortable not only for her, but also for Sean & their children. I use their charity shop regularly and it's one of the places I donate unwanted items to as well, for onward sale. The RSPB get a regular monthly membership donation from us, and we never pass an RNLI tin without dropping a contribution in. The Air Ambulance too - so many people don't realise that this incredible service is kept airborne thanks to donations.

Gadwall, RSPB Rye Meads April 2010
For those on a tight budget, donating to charity isn't always easy. I've lost count of the number of friends I've heard worrying themselves silly over the constant demands from the children's school for donations to this cause or that - no £5 doesn't seem like a lot, but to some people that represents the money they have to spend on bread & milk for the week. So with that in mind, how about looking at some ways of donating for a very small spend, or even cash-free? Even a donation which costs you absolutely nothing will be welcomed by many charities and organisations.

Mum and I routinely put together a box for our local homeless shelter each Christmas - the shelter opens from 23rd December to 1st January, proving warmth, shelter and decent food for those seeking its help.  I asked a few years ago whether they could use some basic toiletries and thought I was going to get a hug they were so grateful - it was explained that not only can the users of the centre use donations like that while they are there, they are able to take a basic toiletries pack away with them to help with the tricky business of keeping clean & decent when every spare penny is better spent on food. Since then we have expanded to include things like a nice box of biscuits, gloves, hat and scarves, and books & magazines. If you fancy doing something similar, then to give you an idea, that supermarket whose name we don't mention currently have in their value range -
Twin pack toothbrushes for 18p
Toothpaste for 25p
Deodorant - rolls-ons for 30p, sprays for 41p
5 x disposable razors for 15p
Bars of soap for 15p
Poundland and 99p shops often have multi-packs of antibacterial gels, lip balms and handy-packs of tissues.
Packs of multi-purpose wipes come in handy for a quick freshen up for someone with no access to running water other than a public toilet which might be quite grotty.
As we buy the items a few at a time, it has very little impact on our weekly budget, but makes all the difference to someone with nothing.

Heron,  RSPB Rye Meads April 2010
Another way of giving for a small spend is the Food Banks. There has been a lot in the press about these recently, so we're all familiar with the concept, and it's getting easier and easier to give with collection bins in many major supermarkets. I blogged about it earlier in the year - hereIf you can spare £3 then you could put together something like I did there. £2 could buy some soup, rice, crackers and tinned veg. £1 would get a couple of packs of crackers and a jar of jam - or potentially Breakfast for a family for a couple of days. Even a single one of those items would be of help to someone, and most of us could spare 14p for a tin of potatoes couldn't we?

How about giving by means of doing something you'd do anyway?
- Tesco give charity donations in exchange for uses of their cashpoints, so if you need to withdraw money, why not do it via one of their machines rather than another provider's? (Their name is mentioned there you will note as it's in connection with something which costs THEM money!)
- If you're looking for a new top, skirt or jacket, how about looking in a charity shop rather than the high street?
- Got some clothes you're bored with, or don't fit? Bundle them up and take them to your local charity shop.
- Wanting some new reading materials? Rather than grabbing a £4.99 paperback in the supermarket with the weekly shop, head to that charity shop again and get 10 books for the same money, AND donate to a good cause at the same time!
- You know that box on the children's sponsor forms? That one that says "Gift Aid It?" with space for a tick? Well if you're a UK taxpayer - TICK IT! Read all about the Gift Aid scheme here

Kingfisher -  RSPB Rye Meads April 2010
Finally there is always the option of volunteering or donating your time. That Homeless Shelter I mentioned earlier is currently looking for volunteers to cover shifts over Christmas, and I bet there is one near you desperate for help too. Then there are independent charity shops needing help with sorting donations, nature reserves wanting assistance with  basic maintenance and get the idea? If you have a wool-stash and the ability to knit then how about knitting some little toys or baby clothes that can be sold at a local school's Christmas fair? A friend of mine gives time to work with her local Transitions groups, and we've volunteered with the local Conservation Volunteers in the past, and will probably do so again this winter.

There are many ways of giving beyond the obvious "Quid in a tin" - just think laterally!



Anonymous said...

What a good post. We regularly put something extra in our shopping for the food bank. Our church has a collection box which makes it easier for us to donate. I also buy a small toy/gift each time I go shopping that I put away ready for Christmas when they get wrapped and donated to children in care.
I like your idea of toiletries for the homeless shelter too. I wouldn't have thought of that.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

I was doorstepped a few days ago by a girl from Cancer Research. I had to tell her we couldn't sign up for her direct debit thingy, being (unsold house) financially challenged. However I did try to soften the blow by complimenting their charity shops which have the best, well sorted and diplayed book sections I've seen outside a dedicated book shop! I, less often at the moment, sometimes use our local charity shops like pay libraries, buying a book one week and giving it back when I've read it. Saves on valuable bookcase space too!

Robyn said...

N - I like the fact that the supermarkets now assist with people giving to Foodbanks - I mean obviously it does them a favour too,but does that really matter?
L - I stopped using the library when a) our local one was closed more days than it was open and b) I realised that because of this, I was amassing fines constantly! The charity shop method suits me far better!

Scarlet said...

I donate monthly to the local heart charity which helped me and I buy from and donate to charity shops - usually those which aren't national ones.
I have to admit to being really put off by people rattling a tin under my nose or asking me to donate to whichever charity they're collecting for.I sometimes wonder if they realise that people can't donate to everything!

Robyn said...

I refuse point blank to anyone who actually asks directly - I'm ok with tin rattling so long as it's done good naturedly and without being direct at me - that was the way I was taught to collect - if you make eye contact you do it with a smile and not with any element of "give me money" about it. I collect down at Regatta in August if they're light on collectors and still employ this method now!