There are hundreds and hundreds of charities out there—which can turn a simple desire to help into a paralyzing decision. Luckily, we here at Spa Week identified 10 cool charities and 10 different ways you can help—and only a few of them involve money. So stop waiting and start giving back! 1. Give to Your Local Food Bank–Donating local usually means less overhead and bureaucratic cost, which means more of your money goes directly to the cause. Food banks are a particularly good choice for this reason. At least here in New York, 96 cents of every dollar donated to the NYC food bank goes towards purchasing and distributing food. If you want to help, but don’t want to/can’t donate money, food banks are also a great choice. Organize a neighborhood or office food drive, or volunteer. Once again, local means it’s easy to get involved. 2. Read for Reading is Fundamental–If you have a theatrical streak, this might be up your alley. Local chapters of national literacy charity Reading is Fundamental may be looking for volunteer readers, and dressing up in costume and dramatically interpreting classic books is not only allowed but encouraged. By connecting directly with kids, 100% of your efforts go to benefit them. Get more info at the RIF website. 3. Donate a Goat with Garden Harvest–Because nothing says charity like a large farm animal-seriously. As strange as it may sound, Garden Harvest places goats with families in developing nations, providing them with enough fencing, food, and medicine to take care of the goat. In addition to providing milk, cheese and yogurt to the family, the family can sell those dairy products at the market for additional income. As the saying goes, giving food is great. Giving a family food and the means to produce a sustainable, long-term income is all the sweeter. Visit Garden Harvest here. 4. Give a Mercy Kit from Mercy Corps–As Mercy Corps describes them, “Mercy Kits” are “symbolic gifts that support our efforts to turn the challenges of disaster, poverty, conflict and instability into opportunity for millions of people in the world’s toughest places.” They’re like microcosm charities. A Beehive Kit trains a Central American family in beekeeping, providing grants to harvest honey to bring in extra income. An Emergency Food Kit helps rush temporary food supplies to people displaced by natural disasters or conflict. With dozens of Mercy Kits to choose with a variety of charitable goals, they’d make a great holiday gift to your favorite activist. Check out the Mercy Kits here. 5. Donate Your Brain with TechnoServe–If you pass the rigorous interview process, you might have the adventure of a lifetime serving as a Volunteer Consultant with TechoServe. Business pros with a consulting/analysis background are sent to manage 3-to-12 month projects in the developing world with the goal of directly involving and benefiting local communities. Who says paper pushers can’t be explorers? Apply here. 6. Advocate for the Elderly with the National Council on Aging-Because we’re all going to get there one day, it should be in everyone’s best interest to treat the elderly with respect and dignity. Donate your time and your voice to the National Counil on Aging to ensure comfort and security for older Americans – consider it an investment in your own future. Visit the NCOA here. 7. Donate stock to the Global Fund for Women-Donating assets like stock can bring tax breaks to the donor and the charity. Large charities like the Global Fund for Women happily accept donations of stock; lighten your investment load in the name of funding women’s health projects and education all around the world. More information is available here. 8. Do everything under the sun with the National Trust for Historic Preservation-The NTHP works to protect and preserve historical sites and buildings all around the nation, and their local subsidiaries need all kind of volunteer help, from website-building to gardening to media development. If you want to learn a new skill or pitch in where you’re already an expert, the NTHP would love to have you! Check out opportunities near you here. 9. Give Blood at the Red Cross-It’s free, everyone has some, and it’s desperately needed. Donating blood is really not so bad, I promise; you get free cookies afterward! Overcome your fear of needles at your local Red Cross and ill and injured people in your community will thank you. Find a Red Cross location near you. 10. Fund a Child’s Education with the Grameen Foundation-Help break the cycle of poverty by providing for a child’s education, and they in turn can enjoy all the doors an education opens. It’s simple-but then again, it should be. Make your donation at the Grameen Foundation today. Start a Conversation Cancel a Conversation Connect with Enter your WordPress.com blog URL http://.wordpress.com Proceed Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.