With every New Year comes the hope of improving upon the year before. Maybe you want to improve something about yourself or your family. Or maybe you want to help improve your local community by supporting your local nonprofit. Nonprofit giving still hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels, and one report suggests that we won’t see that level of giving until 2016. The silver lining in that report, however, is that giving did increase 2.1% from 2009 to 2010 which is a small step in the right direction.

People ask me all the time how they can help and I always encourage getting involved locally because it’s a great way to get to know your community. “Well, that’s great Joanne but the question was ‘how?’. Ok, ok…I’m getting there.

Obviously, any nonprofit is going to welcome a monetary gift. Money is helpful and obviously the most flexible kind of gift for the agency to put to good use. But we’re also in a tough economy and not everyone can afford to give cash. So I decided to put together a list and came up with 4 ways you can help your local nonprofit without spending a dime.  

  1. Donate time. I think this applies to most any nonprofit. Donating a full or half day can be a huge help. You’ll be surprised how big an impact you can make in a short amount of time.  Be forewarned, it can be habit-forming which for the agency is a very good thing.  
  1. Donate stuff. Thinking about having a yard sale or donating to a consignment store? Consider giving your good “stuff” to your local nonprofit. Or have the yard sale and donate all or a portion of the proceeds.  Remember, most non-profits aren’t set up to receive donations of “hard goods” so unless you are thinking of Good Will or an agency thrift shop, be sure to call and ask before showing up with a full truckload.
  1. Donate your Facebook feed. This is a fun and easy one. Most of us have Facebook or Twitter accounts; Google + if you’re an early adopter. Why not let your friends know how they can help their local nonprofit? Most charities don’t have full time marketers on staff and are just now learning to fully utilize social media, so help out by promoting their events to your group of friends for free. And if you encourage them to share with their friends, who knows how many people could be reached?
  1. Mobilize your employer. Does your employer work with any charities? What about your coworkers? Would your boss or employer be open to having their employees take 1 day/year to help out a local charity? This is actually what we do at HCA and it’s hugely successful. We posted about it once before.  Even if your company is small, working together like this can make a big difference. 

Obviously, there are more ways to get involved than the ones I mentioned. What are some of the ways that you get involved with your local nonprofit? What questions do you have about getting something started where you work?