Five ways you can give to charity when money is tight


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Donations to charities have plunged drastically since the outbreak of coronavirus, but there are ways you can continue to give while money is tight.

Charitable giving is expected to fall by more than 7% this year according to JB Were's philanthropy report released in April, which predicts donations to fall by a further 11.9% in 2021, a level not seen since 2012.

Two-thirds of charities and community groups surveyed by Giving Tuesday said they had experienced a drop in donations and volunteers.

how to support charity donate blood

While many charities prefer cash, there are other ways you can help just by rolling up your sleeves.

Give blood

The need for blood never ends - and for the first time in Australia, the Red Cross is collecting convalescent plasma in a bid to fight COVID-19. To donate plasma you need to have been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 for at least 28 days.

This is because convalescent plasma donations from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 may help boost the immunity of patients still battling the disease.

Anyone who believes they are eligible and wants to donate should contact Red Cross Lifeblood on 13 14 95.

Donors who live in lockdown areas cannot donate outside the lockdown area. Donor centres are implementing an additional pre-donation wellness check in all Victorian donor centres that are not in a hotspot in order to identify people who live within a locked down area.

If the donor does reside in a locked down area, the Red Cross will advise the donor they're currently only able to donate at a donor centres in the hotspot area.

Find out more:

Donate frequent flyer points

If your frequent flyer points are languishing during lockdown, there's good news: many frequent flyer programs will allow you to donate your points to charity.

Qantas Frequent Flyer offers a number of charities you can support with your points. These include Australian Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, Royal Flying Doctor Service, The Clontarf Foundation, The Fred Hollows Foundation, The Heart Foundation, The World Wide Fund for Nature Australia Charity Redemption (WWF), Unicef, Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Indigenous Marathon Foundation, Beyond Blue, and Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

You can donate $25 to any of these charities for just 2900 points.

Virgin offers only one charity - the Starlight Children's Foundation - but for every point you are donating $1 to the charity.

Check with other airlines to find out your options.

Find out more:

Support a food pantry

According to Foodbank, COVID-19 has shattered livelihoods, inflicting hunger on thousands of Australian families for the first time.

"Before the COVID-19 emergency even began, one in five Australians already lived with food insecurity and now, thanks to crushing job losses, the number has doubled: two in five Australian families now struggle to feed their children," Foodbank says.

You can donate food or goods to food banks around Australia or volunteer your time to help sort, label and pack items.

Foodbank needs donations of deodorant, soap and body wash, shampoo and conditioner, sanitary items, baby wipes and nappies, dishwashing liquid, canned food including fruit, vegetable, soup and fish, noodles, pasta, rice, baked beans, baby food and formula.

Check out your pantry to see what unopened food items you can donate.

And if you happened to buy a little too much toilet paper recently, Foodbank will gladly take it off your hands.

You can also check your local council website to find programs that support the needy in your area.

Find out more:

Give toiletries

Domestic violence victims were isolated from vital support services including the Beauty Bank during COVID-19, says operations manager Denise Dolan.

Each month the organisation provides around 200 gift bags containing toiletries to women and men in need.

The need for items has increased during COVID, according to Dolan, and is expected to grow further in the next few months as unemployment and financial hardship soars.

While the charity was temporarily unable to receive donations as a result of COVID-19, and supermarket shortages and purchase limits meant they couldn't buy the necessary toiletries, the organisation is once again accepting donations from the public.

"During COVID we used up all our stocks of essentials and because of restrictions on certain items in shops we weren't able to build stocks up at that time. Now we're in full shopping mode while we pack our bags," Dolan says.

"We need shampoo, conditioner, soap, sanitary pads, roll-on deodorant for women, roll-on deodorant for men, disposable razors for women, disposable razors for men, single pack toothbrushes and new face washers."

Now is the time to sort through the all the toiletries you've been given but never used. Just remember that The Beauty Bank only accepts donations of unused items.

Find out more:

Donate what you don't need

If you found yourself decluttering during lockdown, many charities are once again accepting donations of clothing and household items.

  • Op Shop lists stores in Australia selling goods for community and charitable organisations so you can donate your unwanted clothes, furniture and other household items.
  • Save the Children accepts donations of clothing, books, bric-a-brac, furniture, clothing and homewares.
  • Salvation Army accepts donations of clothing, toys, books, CDs/DVDs, electrical goods, bric-a-brac and homewares.
  • St Vincent de Paul Society accepts donations of clothing, homewares, toys, books, CDs/DVDs and furniture.
  • Red Cross accepts donations of clothing, books and bric-a-brac.

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.

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