As the holiday season approaches, many of us are beginning to think about all the things we’d like Santa to slip under the tree. But the holiday giving season is also an opportunity to give back to nonprofit organizations that make a difference all year.
RightRides is one of those nonprofit agencies that is making a positive impact in the lives of women and LGBTQ people New York by offering safe, free rides home on Friday and Saturday nights. Since 2004, RightRides has driven over 3,000 riders safely home. In the spirit of the season, RightRides has drafted their Top 10 List of ways that you can support them, and give the gift of safety to others.
Buy Holiday Gifts Online
Before you make purchases on Amazon.com, click RightRides’ affiliate link to visit their website. If you do, 5% of your total payment will be paid to RightRides! Yes, it really is that easy.
Re-Gift Your Duds
If someone gives you a holiday gift that you don’t want or need, don’t put it in the back of your closet or out on the curb, donate it to RightRides’ newly developed Volunteer Incentive Program. Starting in the New Year, RightRides volunteers will be rewarded for their service with small, periodic gifts of appreciation. That magenta scarf your aunt gave you could become a volunteer’s new favorite accessory. Other re-gift ideas include books, theater tickets, bath products, and home accessories–just think of the eco-benefit!
Be Uniquely You
Sometimes the best way to give is so obvious that we miss it. Are you an artist, knitter, or jewelry maker? Give RightRides a piece of your finished work. Musician or DJ? Take up a collection from the audience at your next live show. Journalist or blogger? Write about our work. Home organizer or chef? Donate a session of your services.
Have a Party
Most of us will host or attend at least one gathering over the holidays, so while you already have your community together, ask them to pool their funds to make a large, collective donation. RightRides can even provide information about their programs for your guests.
With the proliferation of Gift Cards, you can make an in-kind donation of items nonprofits always need–like office supplies, photo copies, and meeting refreshments–which helps keep the overhead low. Many companies, such as Amazon.com, Staples, and Whole Foods, even allow you to order Gift Cards online and send them directly to the organization of your choice. The saved expense of one printer ink cartridge pays for the annual Zipcar membership fee for one volunteer.
Start a Family Tradition
Family traditions have to start somewhere, so why not with you? Ask your family members (or friends!) to make a charitable contribution to RightRides in lieu of buying you a gift. Every $10 they receive allows them to safely usher another rider home.
Stay Up Late for Safety
RightRides is always in need of night owls who are willing to sacrifice one weekend night each month to volunteer as a driver, navigator, or dispatcher transporting New Yorkers to safety. Maybe you just like to drive or have a penchant for reading maps, whatever reason you choose to volunteer is a good one. Time is just as valuable as material goods.
Point RightRides in the Right Direction
Frequent credit card users and air travelers can donate your rewards points and airline miles. RightRides staff members are frequently invited to attend conferences and trainings around the country, but are unable to participate because of lack of funds. Your points will help grow the organization by broadening our support networks and connecting with nonprofit leaders in other cities. If you don’t use points, they expire, so donate them to RightRides instead.
Save Time, Not Foreign Money
If you just returned from a trip abroad, you might still have a handful of Rupees, Euros, Pesos, or whatever they call cash in Canada laying around. RightRides would be happy to spent the time going to the bank to exchange the foreign monies for good old American greenbacks so that you don’t have to.
Show Recurring Love
Typically this wouldn’t be all that creative, which is why it’s listed last, but the RightRides version does have a bit of a twist: add a small RightRides donation to your monthly budget and sign up for a recurring donation via PayPal. It cannot be said enough that every dollar counts, but all of the dollars don’t have to come in at once. Instead, they’re happy for them to come in once a month.
This creative giving list is such a fantastic way to support your favorite community organization, not just RightRides. Be sure to check out the RightRides website to find out other ways that you can get involved.
If you’ve got other ideas for turning the holiday giving season into a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.