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Random Acts of Kindness: 11 ways to give kindness without spending money

Random Acts of Kindness Day could be a great opportunity to help someone out, even if you don't have much spare money. Here's how

Random Acts of Kindness

There are plenty of options if you're feeling charitable but don't have money to spare. Image: Pexels

Random acts of kindness help make the world a little bit brighter. And on this day every year, we celebrate and encourage those small acts that can make a big difference to people’s lives.

Times are tough and you, understandably, might not have money to donate to good causes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help do your bit to make the world a kinder place.

From volunteering to donating useful items to charities which really need your help , there are plenty of things you can do. You might not even know some of them were useful.

Here are some ways you can do your bit on Random Acts of Kindness Day that don’t need money.

Donate to a food bank

Make no mistake: the country’s growing reliance on food banks is a grim indictment of our ability to provide security and opportunity for the most vulnerable. They’re not the answer to the country’s problems – but people are in need, and Random Acts of Kindness Dayis as good a reason as any to help out.

Not only can you donate food items, but toiletries like deodorant and sanitary products are also often in high demand. Food banks will have their own lists, and you can find our guide to donating here.

If you can’t collect and donate items, most happily accept cash contributions. Services like the Trussell Trust, IFAN and other local food banks can be donated to online, either as a one-off or on a recurring basis.

Give your time and volunteer

If you’ve got the time, volunteering is a great option. As well as helping out, there’s a chance you’ll meet some new people and pick up new skills.

There are opportunities in most sectors and every area of the country. Some of the country’s best-loved charities are on the lookout for volunteers, as well as smaller local organisations.

Check out our guide here for tips on how to find opportunities that fit you. It’s easier than you might think to get started, and Random Acts of Kindness Day might be your excuse.

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Give old furniture

Furniture is a nightmare to get rid of. Unless your phone book is full of men with ven, it can be a tricky task. But that old side table or set of chairs sitting around, inanimately begging not to be fly-tipped, could actually be useful.

There are a host of charities which will pick up old furniture for free. It’ll save a trip to the dump, and help those in need.

We’ve put together a full guide here.

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Donate toys to vulnerable children

The TOY project in London gives toys to those who need them, including schools, hospitals, community centres and local families. They accept donations of new and old toys as well as cash. If you have the toys to spare, call The TOY Project shop on 0207 503 9590 to arrange a time and date to drop off your donations.

You can also always donate toys, games and presents to children at Great Ormond Street. The hospital is only able to accept items that are brand new and in their original packaging. Gifts are accepted in person (you should contact them to arrange beforehand) or via the post at the GOSH Charity offices. Find out more here.

You can also donate toys to a local charity shop, toy banks or charities like KidsOut.  

 Give an old winter coat

With temperatures still bitterly cold, those living on the streets face increasing danger. Donating an unused or unwanted winter coat is a simple way to help, and to declutter your wardrobe.

The Take One Leave One campaign runs throughout the winter, with collection rails around the country. For more details, and other ways to donate, we’ve produced a guide. You can read it here.

Donate your old electronics

What’s more British than the drawer of old phones? Cracked and obsolete, the devices are kept in the faint hope they might be useful one day. Random Acts of Kindness Day could be the day to face reality.

But throwing electronics away is, as we’ve all come to realise, no good for the environment. Instead, you can donate your old items. Our guide picks out a range of organisations who will accept them, and put them to good use – from recycling to helping children without access to tech. Read it here.

Donate your old books

The best part of reading books is buying books. But there comes a point when you’ve simply got too many books on the shelves. And let’s face it, you’re never going to re-read them.

While it’s tempting to insist that, yes, this is a sophisticated type of decor, you’ll also need to make space for new books. So why not donate them as a random act of kindness? Charity shops will accept books. But the National Trust is also accepting donations. Give your books to any of the second hand bookshops at a National Trust location and the sales will help fund the organisation’s conservation work.

Take the time to have a conversation

Your giving might involve spending money – like buying the Big Issue magazine from one of our vendors. But that’s not the only way it helps. Taking the time to have a conversation can make a big difference to anybody experiencing homelessness or in other marginalised groups. It might seem small, but a greeting or a question can be hugely important in someone’s day.

“Social enterprise is about equal exchange – when you buy a magazine from our vendor, you are in an equal transaction. Their labour, your purchase, our collective uplift by our own bootstraps,” said Danyal Sattar, chief executive of Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of the Big Issue.

“The gift is in the conversation, the ‘how are you’ or ‘I missed you the other week’. So, let us be generous and give all of ourselves to what we would like to see happen in the world.”

Smile at people around you

Even faking a smile can release endorphins and serotonin, which elevate your mood and act as natural painkillers. A big grin will make you feel so much better, but it can also be a really easy act of kindness. Smiling is contagious, so when you smile at someone, there’s a good chance they’ll reciprocate and they will feel happier too.

Phone a friend

Stop and think for a minute. Who could use a phone call? Not a text, an honest-to-god phone call. If you know someone who might be feeling lonely right now, be the one to pick up the phone. 

We recently spoke to psychologist Faisal Shaikh, who believes that conversations with strangers is the answer to ending loneliness. He has designed an app, fittingly called MyBabble, to connect strangers across the world with each other and help them navigate a 17-minute conversation. Find out more here. 

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself

As cheesy as it sounds, you can only be your kindest self to others if you are kind to yourself first. It might be taking time for a breathing exercise, going for a run, or making yourself a nice warm hot chocolate. Whatever recharges your batteries to face another day. Find out more about looking after your mental health here.

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