Donate to Your School, Cash Free!

I think that most people would agree that our public schools are not adequately funded.  It gets exhausting that every time you turn around, someone is asking for donations. I set a budget and try to stick to it. I wish it could be more. So I have been trying more and more ways to donate to schools without actually giving money. You’d be surprised at the different options that are out there. Here are different ways you can make donations to education without actually giving money or cash.

Charity Miles: Charity Miles is an app that I’ve been using for a few years. It’s great for generating donations and encouraging me to get out and walk more. It’s very simple. You install the app. Tap it to get started when you are going out for a walk, run or bike ride. You choose a charity that you will donate that workout to. I usually choose Pencils for Promise or Special Olympics, but there are several education charities on there. Then, do your workout and tap when completed to learn how much you earned for charity that day. I usually walk a mile to a mile and a half, and it’s $0.30 to $0.35 each time. Sure, not huge amounts but it adds up and encourages me to walk.

Box Tops for Education: Box Tops is the General Mills program. Ask if your school is enrolled. Then, look for specially marked products, purchase them and save the Box Tops. We eat a lot of GM stuff (Cheerios!) in this house and we end up donating almost $100 every year.

Labels for Education: It’s the same program as Box Tops, but for Campbell’s, Pepperidge Farm (goldfish!) and Bic, including many other brand names. If you are using these products anyway, might as well, clip the labels and save them.

► To make this easier, I keep a small plastic container inside of one of my kitchen cabinets. That way as we finish a box of cereal, I can just clip it and keep it in there. Also, clipping the labels or box tops and counting them is a great fine motor and math skill for kids.

Grocery stores: Our Giant has a program where you register your shopper card and pick a school. Then, each year they donate 1% to the school that you chose. If you have a large district that is going to shop at a store anyway, this can really add up. Ask at your local grocery store.

Donate miles: Many frequent flier programs have it set up that you can donate your miles.

​Schoola: Schoola is a new website. It’s an online consignment site and they donate 40% to schools. Great way to recycle rather than trash items, earn some money and help your school.

Amazon Smile: A charity can register with Amazon Smile and then when people shop at Amazon (and choose Amazon Smile) they get 1%. The downside is that I don’t always remember to choose Amazon Smile before finalizing my purchase and I only sometimes get the pop-up reminder.

In kind donations or your time: If you don’t have money to give, see what else you have to offer. Your time? What about gifts in kind? I used to be a pretty serious couponer back in the day and would always have tons of free school supplies. I often donated them to students in need or to the school. Offer to run a fundraiser, or solicit area businesses or ask your employer to choose your charity as the one they will support this year for United Way. Collect bottles, cans, scrap metal…and see if you can turn it in for a donation. What about printer cartridges? Some places pay for those, so you can collect them at your office.

Surely we all have something to offer, even if it’s not money!

Lisa Lightner is a Chester County, PA mom of two. This post was adapted from the blog A Day in Our Shoes,, which she co-authors. It provides support, resources and advocacy services for parents of children with special needs.

Categories: MomSpeak