Everyday Ways to Give Back

In an ideal world, we would all love to have countless hours and dollars to donate to causes that are important to us. Unfortunately, work, life and other financial obligations often get in the way. But lately I’ve noticed many for-profit companies are making it easier to donate to nonprofit organizations. By incorporating some charitable giving into your everyday shopping, it’s easy to support causes you care about. Here are a few of the ways I’ve added a dose of “doing good” to my normal household routine.

Outstretched hands holding a red heart.

Seek out convenient places to donate

My son’s school recently collected donations for a local charity, with the drop-off center located on school grounds. It was so easy to grab a few cans from our pantry on the way to picking my son up at school every day. Many groceries stores, thrift stores, and other local businesses also have conveniently located donation drop-boxes in the parking lot or at the front of the store. Make a habit of purchasing an extra item or two when you shop, then simply drop them off on the way to your car. Keep your eyes open for food drives, clothing drives, and other donation opportunities at businesses or locations you frequently visit.

Be thoughtful when shopping online

Amazon Smile has been around for years and makes it incredibly easy to donate to a charity of your choice. Just visit smile.amazon.com, do your shopping as usual (on a site that looks exactly the same as the regular Amazon.com), and Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of your purchase to the charity of your choice. Couldn’t be easier! As someone who has Amazon orders showing up at my house regularly, this has been a great way for me to give.

I’ve also been seeing advertisements for Casper, a mattress company offering a 100-day trial period with free returns if you’re not satisfied. I wondered how one would go about returning a mail-order mattress. Apparently, your unwanted mattress will be picked up by courier, cleaned, and donated to a local charity at no cost to you. (In areas where restrictions prevent the donation of used mattresses, Casper works with local recycling centers to make sure it’s ethically recycled.)

When you’re shopping online, be sure to read the company’s FAQs and return policies. You have a million different choices on the internet, so choose your e-retailers wisely.

Maximize the impact of your daily dollars

While out running daily errands in Ann Arbor, I’ve noticed many simple ways to donate. Whole Foods offers a reusable shopping bag credit, which you can choose to donate to a local charity. My favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor, The Lunch Room, donates 10% of all sales on certain nights to a growing list of local nonprofits. Even the hair conditioner I buy partners with an organization that provides clean water to communities in need.

While there’s no substitute for volunteering (or writing a check for a big, fat donation), every little bit helps. With a few simple adjustments to your daily habits, you can find small ways to give back regularly to nonprofit organizations that are doing good in the world. That’s what I call win-win!