How to Donate When Your Own Wallet is Hurting

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Nov 16 2020 09:28 AM

Donor fatigue is real, and it can happen even to the most generous among us.

When COVID-19 cases began to spike and the country went on lockdown, soup kitchens were popping up in every location to prepare ready-to-eat meals. These were being handed for free to the medical frontliners who were working long hours and could not go home with the mass transportation shutdown.

That Good Samaritan gesture even extended to vagrants as some of the soup kitchens wanted to make sure that despite the empty streets and no pedestrians to give them alms, they would be fed even if just one meal in a day.

But that was 10 months ago, and for many of these soup kitchens, the funding sourced from their own pockets, family and friends have dried up forcing them to hang their aprons. 

Then Supertyphoon Rolly hit and the devastation it left in its wake mobilized many to help in whatever way they can. But just as they handed out cash and goods, the warning for Typhoon Ulysses came and the destruction was just as worse if not more. Houses submerged in floodwater, people awaiting rescue from their rooftops, and packed evacuation centers at a time when COVID 19 has yet to be contained are just some of the many reasons for people to once again dip into their pockets to give.

But how can you still donate when your hands come up empty this time? Don’t let the lack of cash prevent you from helping. Here are some ways you can still donate and you may end up making an even bigger contribution.

#1 Check your credit card rewards points.

Start by looking at your last statement of account and see what rewards you have accumulated from all your spending. Some cardholders make sure to redeem their points at least once every year to make sure they are not forfeited (some have expiry dates) but there are others who just let them pile up. If you’re one of the latter, you may be in for a nice surprise.

Most card companies offer donations as part of their redemption catalog and showcase their partner non-profit organizations. It will be easier for you if you choose from them, but if you have a charity in mind, consider redeeming the points as cash credits or eGift vouchers. You can use these to buy what your charity needs, or swap them with the cash you have for personal spending. Pay for your groceries with your points redemption so you can donate your cash instead.

#2 Convert your frequent flyer points.

Airlines have accepted the painful truth that leisure travel will not recover overnight. Many have launched other ways you can spend your frequent flyer miles before they expire, and one of them is to donate to charities. While many airlines have extended the expiry dates of their frequent flyer miles, chances are you have some that will expire soon. Check their websites for your options, which sadly should not include flight upgrades or free flights for your next vacation until COVID-19 has been contained.

Some have made it very easy to redeem. If you have their App downloaded on your mobile phone, you just need a couple of clicks to make your chosen charity a little bit happier and so much more grateful. 

#3 Be a smarter and generous shopper.

Doing good is now popular and retail stores have embraced the trend. Some ask for a donation and offer to match what you give to their chosen charity. Others sell useful items like reusable bags or umbrellas and proceeds go to the non-profits. Then there are some who do not ask anything from you, just your patronage.

Before you shop, check what the stores offer. My neighborhood grocery sent a mailer that says they will donate part of their proceeds to Philippine Red Cross. Another grocery I frequent is silent on that point so guess who will get my business, and should get yours?

#4 Organize a fundraiser.

You don’t always have to donate from your own cash. If you can spare the time, organize a fundraising effort via social networking. Many Viber group chats have been set up for this purpose, and some also use Facebook and Instagram not only to solicit donations but just as importantly report on where the donations are going and after they have been delivered.

I know many generous souls that use their social media accounts with sizable following towards this cause. Their successes give us hope that the Bayanihan spirit is very much alive.

#5 Offer yourself – volunteers always welcome.

Or why not give back your most precious resource – which is yourself and your time. The residents of Provident Village in Marikina relived their Typhoon Ondoy nightmare when Typhoon Ulysses’ torrential downpour flooded their homes. The news are full of photos of families sitting on their roofs waiting for rescue boats, but the next day they all got to work cleaning up. What made it easier was the presence of many volunteers helping them wash away the mud as they do their best to rebuild again. Your two hands are more than welcome in Marikina, or in San Mateo, Rizal or in Albay, or in Catanduanes. 

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.