For most people who aren’t making charitable donations, it isn’t because they don’t want to or don’t care about the Austin community. Usually, people either don’t know how, think they can’t afford to, or both. But what you didn’t know is that nonprofit organizations are making it easier than ever for people to give without spending any extra money.
A common misconception is that making a contribution to a particular organization requires play dress up at a $150 per plate gala and competing for fabulous vacation getaways and expensive jewelry at a live auction. And big contributions like these are essential to some nonprofits’ survival. But charitable organization have also figured something out recently- big events require so much staff time and a big chunk of money upfront that they can only afford one or two per year.
The solution to this dilemma varies according the each organizations needs, but in general, this means opportunities for “small givers” are opening up all over the place.
Below are some examples of creative donation programs set up by Austin-area nonprofits:
1) Recycling Cell Phones: You’ve already spent the money on that new cell phone, and now you don’t know what to do with the old one. You’ll probably just throw it away. But in Austin, several charities could make better use of that cell phone than your trash can will. SafePlace, a shelter for abused women and children, distributes functioning cell phone to their shelter clients to use in case an emergency 9-1-1 call needs to be made. The Central Texas SPCA, a no-kill animal shelter, accepts cell phones and accessories in all conditions for their eBay Cash for Critters program.
2) Recycling Clothes: Sure, your old duds could make you $10 at the Buffalo Exchange. Or they could provide men, women and children with a suitable wardrobe for the whole year. SafePlace also accepts clothing donations for their clients. Imagine fleeing your home with nothing but the clothes on your back. To start life over, victims need new homes, furniture, jobs and clothes. The last two items are often dependant on each other. How can someone interview for a new job without a nice pair of pants? By giving your clothes to a shelter, you’re helping in a variety of ways.
And there are the usual places for clothing donations. During a recent Goodwill clothing drive, a friend of mine was given a ticket to enter a prize drawing just for donating some old clothes. She ended up winning free airfare for two from Southwest Airlines! She didn’t spend a dime and even got a very valuable prize out of the deal.
The Eastside Community Connection is staffed almost completely by students at the University of Texas. They have clothing donation boxes scattered all over the city, such as in WalMart parking lots.
3) Recycling items that seem like trash: The Austin Children’s Museum accepts donation for a variety of “trash” items that children then turn into a treasure- art. Turn in clean paper towel cardboard tubes, fabric scraps, soda bottle caps, egg cartons, magazines, leftover yarn, unused colored and computer paper, and so much more to ACM and they will let kids turn it into imaginative art pieces at Creation Station. Who knew egg cartons could have a second life? Contact the museum for a full list of items accepted.
4) Pet food: When I was young, my cat got sick and passed away. We had just bought him a flat of wet cat food and now had no cat. There is no reason to throw that food in the garbage can. Town Lake Animal Center is Austin’s dog pound, where lost and unwanted puppies, kitties, bunnies, and other critters wind up. Help them live comfortably during their stay that TLAC by donating your un-used, un-opened pet food and treats. Also consider donating blankets, food containers and unused toys.