Giving to Charity

June 13, 2011
Giving to CharityMy Frugal LifeI recently became involved in volunteering to teach swimming and surfing at the Ninos de la Promesa Orphanage in TJ, Mexico, about 20 minutes from the border of San Diego, CA. The orphanage is actually a converted hotel, housing boys and girls 5-18 years of age. It sits directly on the coast and happens to have it's own swimming pool (unheated), which at present is roughly 60 degrees! The goal of the "Out of the Boat Swim" program is to help children gain confidence by teaching them to swim and become water safe in the ocean. In some cases the children go on to eventually become Jr. lifeguards and perhaps find gainful employment as beach lifeguards.

On my first visit a few weeks ago, I was surprised that (at 60 degrees warm,) the children were very eager to get into the pool for their swim tests. In addition, I noticed that every one of the children went swimming in their "street clothes." It didn't seem uncommon to also share a small bath-sized towel among 3 or 4 children. Needless to say, when the first child was done using it, the towel was already mighty wet, so by the time child number 3 or 4 got the towel, well, he might have been better off just "air drying!" Their need is great and the "Out if the Boat Swim" program is ongoing, so when I returned to San Diego, I was inspired to find a way to provide the children with the items they needed for a successful swimming experience.

I began by mentioning my desire to help to every and anyone who would listen. Here in the U.S., most children would not be comfortable wearing a used bathing suit, but I knew the children in the orphanage would be thrilled with anything that even closely fit them, so I hoped perhaps some of my friends would be willing to pass on their own children's gently used/outgrown swim suits, rash guards, trunks, goggles, etc. I work in the public school system and sent an email to the head of our department, asking if she might be willing to pass the word along to my fellow workers in the district, asking for donations. Ask and you shall receive!


Wow, the response was fabulous. In the past week or so, I have been fielding emails and texts from people I've never met. I have had people put donation boxes at their children's schools. Some have taken my request to the next level, using it as a learning opportunity for their own children in the benefit of doing for others what they are unable to do for themselves, by going shopping for a new swim suit and towel to give to a child who is going to learn how to swim for the first time this summer. One of my co-workers went out and bought 18 brand new beach towels to donate, another gave a monetary donation, and countless others have sorted through their children's drawers and closets to donate items with a fair amount of life left in them.

One co-worker suggested I approach the local Boys and Girls club to see if they had anything to donate. A short phone call later, I walked away with 5 "hefty" bags containing their entire unclaimed lost and found! I came home, washed everything and sorted it into bags according to age and gender. Another co-worker suggested stopping by garage/yard sales as they are about to close and ask if they would be willing to donate any clothing that went unsold.


In almost every case, folks would rather give it to me for a good cause, than tote it to the local Goodwill store. Besides, I am willing to pack up the items I want myself, saving them the effort.

I have come to realize that people are eager and willing to contribute an a million different ways, but we have to be willing to ask. It was a wonderful feeling to send that first batch of swim suits and towels to the orphanage last week, and I look forward to many more trips with a trunk full of donations. Many of the people I have met told me they will continue to save clothes year-round that can be used at the orphanage. One of the schools has even expressed interest in establishing pen-pals with the children. What a wonderful way to bring the children on the U.S. and Mexican border one step closer. I guess the greater lesson here has been how easy (painless) it is to give if you just put it out there and allow people to give from the heart.


By donna napolitan from San Diego, CA

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4 More Solutions

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Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
December 2, 2008

It feels good to donate to a charitable cause. I write the check that I know will buy the last ingredient needed to find the cure for cancer, and it feels good. Then, I write the check to help pay for books at a school ravaged by floods, and it feels good, too.

A man with no money in his wallet.


May 17, 2007

My husband and I get a lot of calls for money over the phone. Instead of saying no or refusing to talk to these people, we ask them to send a form for their request.


Then we say we'll put it in our lottery.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

August 7, 2006

I need help to say "No"! It's not that I haven't been thrifty and frugal, I've had to be. It's just the many, many requests for donations and subscriptions to worthy causes. I'm now on a low, and virtually fixed income with little leeway. I contribute to several 'causes' both for people and animals and last week I signed up for yet another one at the cost of $25 a month.

Now I face the awkward position of having to ring them up and tell them I really, really cannot afford to do this. I need some tips on how to say "No" at the outset without feeling like a complete grinch!

Ellie from Melbourne Australia


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 233 Feedbacks
August 7, 20060 found this helpful

Start off by saying, I apologize for canceling, but unforseen circumstances (no details) have forced me to cancel.

If you gave them a credit card, be sure to get a confirmation letter!

August 8, 20060 found this helpful

I suggest you just say No, not right now! Or something to that effect. Choose one favourite charity to support and hopefully the many requests will back off. You could also consider rotating your favourite charity, for instance by supporting a "people charity" one year and an "animal charity" the next year. Remember, charities send out MANY requests (millions?!), so they will not take it personally if you refuse or cancel.

By Bonnie (Guest Post)
August 8, 20060 found this helpful

I always say I wish I could help you but I'm unable to do so at this time. Please try me again sometime in the future. That way you're saying no, but leaving an opening for another time.


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 156 Feedbacks
August 8, 20060 found this helpful

2 ways: (1)Tell caller that you budget and have reached limit. (2)Ask for financial report, after receipt of which you will decide and notify if your answer is yes. The first one I use when answer is definite "no." The second often gets a "hang-up," as the caller may not be legit! Above all, don't waste your time in dialog--just hang up if caller is persistent. Even Miss Manners would approve!

August 8, 20060 found this helpful

Tell them sorry, but you are unemployed and maybe after you find a job you will reconsider.

August 8, 20060 found this helpful

Be truthful. Tell them you just cannot afford to give any money to any charities. THEN, ask them to take you off their calling list. They, I believe, by law, have to remove your name.

August 8, 20060 found this helpful

I say:

"We don't respond to telephone solicitations".

Then I hang up immediately to cut off any response.

By (Guest Post)
August 8, 20060 found this helpful

I was once told by some "irrate" fireman when he called for a charity, that they do not have to take you off their list as charities are exempt...don't know how true that is. From now on, when they say who they are, I just politely say, "not at this time, thanks for thinking of me" and I hang up immediately, before they get a chance to untangle their tongue because I said thanks! You are not obligated to give anything and they are intruding on you. Sometimes I can get nasty, which I don't like, but there is nothing else you can do when they won't shut up. A salesman once told me, there is a fine line between being persistant and obnoxious and you need to know when not to cross it! I now even have a "no solicitors" sign on my door. Amazing how the kids know what it means, but adults just knock anyway!

August 8, 20060 found this helpful

I'm of a similar opinion to "Lily May", we tell them that they can send their reqest in the mail but we do not respond to telephone solicitations. Usually we get nothing from them, sometimes but not usually.

At least that way you are incontrol and unpressured. My wife has found this technique better than saying "No". I've found it much cheaper! Also be very wary of giving credit card information to someone who has called you. You don't REALLY know who they are.

By Trix (Guest Post)
August 8, 20060 found this helpful

If this is a charity you know is legit and something you really do want to support, why not call and tell them that you are sorry that you will not be able to contribute financially, but ask if you could volunterr your time instead. Charities often need volunteers more than the money and it will give you something to do that will make you feel even better than just giving cash.

For any future calls from charities, simply ask them to send information in the mail - tell them you won't make any decisions over the phone and need time to think it over. This will also give you the information and the time to check out whether or not they are a legit charity and to figure out if you can really afford to make any donations.

By Ellie (Guest Post)
August 8, 20060 found this helpful

Thank you for all your helpful suggestions. No, it wasn't a telephone call, it was a 'face- to face- at the local shopping plaza, and Yes. it was a very legit. organization, and I don't use a credit card.
Since the advice from you all, I've rung them and explained my situation.
The young woman I spoke to was very pleasant, said she understood, and would take me off their list.
I will be more careful in the future!
Thank you all again.

August 8, 20060 found this helpful

I think Lily May's advice is good, just say "no" and hang up before giving them a chance to answer.

Actually, you could be doing them a favor by hanging up because that just gives them more time to call other people.

But please don't be afraid to say no.

By Ashley (Guest Post)
August 9, 20060 found this helpful

The comment about the charites being exempt is true. I work for a market research company and I know that we are exempt also. But if you tell us to take your name off the list, we do. We don't want to get yelled at anymore than you want to yell at us.

By Doggy. (Guest Post)
August 9, 20060 found this helpful

NEVER EVER EVER give credit card info to a caller. You don't know who is really on the other end of the line. You can simply say: "I don't give my credit information over the phone. Have a nice day" and leave it at that.

By Estella (Guest Post)
August 9, 20060 found this helpful

First, I would WRITE them to cancel, if you have an address to write to. Keep a copy and send one to the credit card company on the same day, and note at the bottom of the letter: cc: CitiBank MasterCard or whatever your credit card company is.

If you don't have an address for the charity, then call, get the name of the person you talked to, and then write to the credit card company giving that contact name, date, time and content (cancelling a pledge) of your call. Some of these people are terribly unscrupulous and will take weeks or months to inform your credit card company.

The other thing to know is that most of the telephone solicitations are done by paid solicitor companies who take a large cut. You give much more to the charity if you give directly, not through a phone call.

My neighbor can't say no and hang up, so she finally got an answering machine and screens all calls. They cost $14 at Walgreens these days, so if you don't have one that might help.

I say...I'm retired, can't afford it any more, please take me off your list. Then I hang up.

By (Guest Post)
August 9, 20060 found this helpful

Over the years, I have been polite and tried all the "nice" ways of saying "no." It hasn't been successful. Telemarketers are very persistent. I have now taken the rude way of doing it. When they say what they want, I hang up. It works. I don't get repeat calls.

August 9, 20060 found this helpful

We have only basic phone service with a cheap answering machine added, no caller id or any telephone company features, but that won't stop the calls only enable you to screen them, and trust me ... they probably won't leave messages they'll just call you again and again. We have quite a few organizations that we donate to regularly, so we are not against charitable giving! However, when we get unsolicited calls, here's what I do. Before they get too far rolling in their pitch, I interrupt them and say, something like this ...

Excuse me. I do not make my charitable decisions on contributions (or purchase things) from telephone solicitations. I am not interested and would appreciate it if you would please remove me from your call list. Thank you and have a good day.

Then I simply hang up. You'll probably hear them still talking but don't feel bad. Just hang up and be done with it. What is REALLY annoying to me are those computer calls that you get that hang up on you when you answer. The only thing I can figure that is, is a computer checking for valid numbers. Now THAT ought to be against the law in my opinion.

Even though political and charitable organizations and surveyors are exempt be sure to sign up on the do not call registry. The solicitation calls were out of control at our house until we did this and they virtually stopped once we signed up. Your state probably also has a registry. Our's did.

By Julia in UK (Guest Post)
August 10, 20060 found this helpful

The problem is that you need to get into the habit of saying "No" to charity requests. When you respond to a request by saying "Yes" the charity can give your name as a likely candidate to other charities and even more requests come to you.
An old lady I know in the UK had to have her cheque book taken away by her relatives, because she had charity requests made every day and was giving away ALL her money.

By (Guest Post)
August 10, 20060 found this helpful

I know telemarketers are as hungry as we are and need to make a buck somehow, but they are annoying and rude. I had one girl call me one day for those scholastic books, I did not catch her name or where she was from because as soon as I hear it's a telemarketer, I tune them out. I was making meatloaf at the time and wanted to get off the phone, but she kept on after I said no.....finally, I said, "I said no" and hung up. A few seconds later she called back and said "YOU B***H and hung up! From that day forward, telemarketers do not get the time of day from me!!

August 11, 20060 found this helpful

I'm quite polite to Charities but telemarketers are a whole different thing. When they ask for me by name, or the lady or man of the house...I simply say "Just one moment please" Then I leave the phone for awhile. When I get back to the's an open line and the telemarketer is gone. It has worked well for me many times.

By attila (Guest Post)
August 28, 20080 found this helpful

I say (truthfully) "I'm sorry, that's not one of the charities I subscribe/donate to," or "I already support you." If they are just asking for a few pennies on one occasion, I usually do give if I can. But if you can't afford it, what is wrong with saying so? I sometimes say, if I do have money that is for something else, "I'm sorry, I haven't got anything for you."

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July 23, 2015

I am looking for the best cause-shopping platform where each purchase makes a donation to a worthy cause. I have found two websites that donate to charity every time we shop online.

I want your advice on both cause-shopping platforms.


Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 220 Answers
July 23, 20150 found this helpful

There are many excellent causes to donate money to, volunteer, etc., and there are many online retailers that advertize donations for your purchases. The crucial problem here is how to determine that sites you choose to shop will donate money for your purchases to the choice you prefer.

"Best Cause-Shopping Platform"? The best "cause" for one person is often of little importance to another. Are you asking about political, animal welfare, medical research, climate mayhem, etc.? There are many causes and the best one for you is the one you choose to support.

Thirty or so years ago, well before the internet, my employer supported the United Way (as it was called then) and almost demanded that we employees donate monthly amounts for "the cause". I dutifully donated until I learned the "cause" headquarters in NYC gave its employees (hundreds!)a week long holiday party in a hotel with amazing financial goodies. At the time, the cause said that the "party" cost over $50,000 (at the time a huge amount of money!) but that its employees deserved the great time for all their hard work over the past year. I was completely disgusted at such waste (so much for the starving babies in India, China or wherever!) but my company supported the affair. I have been much more careful ever since!

To answer your specific question, your "Best Cause" retail donating site is the one you choose!

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