47. Look for free ways to give, too. Giving blood, signing up to be an organ donor, or donating the gently used books and clothes in your home can be just as helpful as monetary gifts. Your time, of course, is one of the most valuable things you can give, along with any special skills, such as computer expertise, to charities in need of such assistance.
48. Give better gifts. Surveys show that most Americans say they want to spend less and give more meaningful presents. When birthdays or other events come up, think about how you can give an experience, such as an afternoon at a museum or conversation over tea, instead of things.
49. Clean out your closet. Not only will you have a more organized space for the new year, but you probably have some valuable items—books, CDs, and games—that charities could make good use of. See what you have that you're ready to give away, then look up local charities in need. Be sure to retain a record of what you give for next year's taxes.
50. Join forces with friends. By forming a giving circle, a group of friends can pool their money for a good cause. The number of giving circles has doubled to at least 800 over the past four years, and the trend is partly frugality-driven. Combining money and time makes it easier to research charities more extensively, check up on how the funds are being used, and garner enough power as donors that charities make an effort to reach out to you. A representative might visit your donor circle one night to explain the programs, or invite you to participate in some of the charity's activities. To find a giving circle that already exists in your area, visit givingcircles.org.
Kimberly Palmer is the author of the new book Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.