Friday, May 4, 2012

How to Donate to Charity When You're Flat Broke

We've all seen the guilt ads on TV. Sad, scarred puppy faces, kittens without mothers, children covered in dirt without shoes or adequate clothing. These ads are designed to make us feel bad and want to do something, like open a website and take out our credit cards, or text a code to a special phone number. I, like many of you, would love to help each and every cat, dog, child, and whatever else they parade in front of me that is in need of the basic essentials of life. Unfortunately, I can barely feed myself and my cat Memphis most months, let alone the thousands of homeless pets out there. 

For years I've been stopping by FreeRice.com, a strangely addictive website with word games in English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. It started simple with just English, but has since moved beyond even language, and you can now be quizzed on famous paintings, literature, chemical symbols, flags of the world, multiplication tables, and more. This is not only an easy and fun way to keep your mind fresh (or learn a thing or two), but with every right answer, Free Rice's sponsors donate 10 grains of rice to combat world hunger. It doesn't take much time to rack up hundreds of grains of rice, and it doesn't cost you a thing.

There is a similar website called Free Flour. With each correct answer you give in their trivia game they donate one spoonful of flour. An even easier site that will donate a cup of food for every click is The Hunger Site. You may click once daily, and 100% of the sponsor money goes to charity. Yes, the site is full of ads, but they are small, do not flash at you, and there are no pop-ups. Remember, it's the ads that power the donations.

Another daily click charity site is The Rainforest Site. Each click claims to help protect 11.4 square feet of rainforest habitat. Along the top of the page are links to other daily clicks that include therapy for children living with autism and their families, books for children in need, meals for veterans, donations of food for rescued animals, and more. Another site like this with daily clicks is Care2, where you can protect wildlife and donate to shelter pets, among other things. There is also Clicks Give. Again, one click and a few seconds of your time are all it takes to donate to those in need. 

If clean water is your thing, check out Click For Your Charity. Select an ad to watch, watch it all the way through, and this website claims to pay for 7 days of clean water to "someone at need and at risk." The ad I watched was 30 seconds long. 

For those who enjoy playing games on Facebook, there is WeTopia. It's basically a really cute version of Sim City. You follow quests and build a town, cultivate crops, and visit your neighbors all the while collecting "joy." You may then donate the joy points you've accumulated to the charities in the real world of your choice. You also earn rewards for the joy you donate, kind of like trophies, that you may then place in your town for others to see. I like to donate to the free book charities because I am a nerd, but I also have donated to food pantries and free healthcare for underprivileged children. WeTopia has been promoted by celebrities Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber. It's cute, it's fun, and it helps kids in need in the real world. 

I hope I've helped some of you by pointing out all the easy ways to donate to charity without using any of your own money. You don't even have to own a computer or have your own in-home internet (I don't!). Every library I have visited in the past 10 years has had free terminals for patrons to use. If you are a student, your school probably has computers with internet access for your own use, as well. (I know spent countless hours dinking around in the computer labs between classes.) 

No, all these little clicks aren't the same as writing a check, or going out an volunteering in your community, but they are sure as hell better than sitting on your ass, feeling helpless, and doing nothing. Happy clicking.

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