NEW YORK (
) -- No matter how big your heart is, donating money to charity has become more difficult for many Americans facing unemployment, or at least underemployment, along with a higher cost of living.
What if you could give back to a charitable cause without writing a check? Well, you can. Here are 10 innovative ways to show how big your heart is when it comes to making donations without spending a dime more than you already do or volunteering your precious time.
1. Coupons for items you don't need are needed by charities
When it comes to saving money, coupons typically come to mind, and there is no shortage of coupon sources, from the traditional newspaper to websites and coupon apps.
Stephanie Nelson of
and author of "The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half" suggests becoming a strategic shopper. "In the process of buying items with coupons, you end up finding deals that you can't always use for yourself. We encourage you to donate these extra items to charity," she advises.
According to Nelson, personal care items, such as toothpaste, razors and shampoo, can be purchased at no cost with the proper coupons, making this the perfect donation to a local charity.
You can stack coupons, too -- using a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon at the same time. Check your local store's coupon policy for details (they're typically posted on the store's website.)
2. An even easier way to give through coupons
Using coupons to find deals on behalf of local charities can be time consuming. In fact, staying on top of coupons with your scissor can be time-consuming before charity even enters into it. But if you're the type who typically browses the internet for coupons every now and then, you can still make a charitable impact.
A new website,
, offers this deal: for every three coupons used on the site a meal will be donated to an American family in need. The site has partnered with Feeding America.
"We're at a time when couponing is so important -- there were 3.5 billion coupons redeemed in 2011. We can help families stretch their dollar and at the same time, give back," says Michele Boal, the website's founder.
3. Donate your old cell phone
If you have been throwing your old cell phones in a drawer for the past few years, it won't cost you a dime to donate the phone to someone who needs it.
Get in touch with your local cell phone store or contact your wireless provider to discuss the best options for donating your old phone.
And with new versions of cell phones and smartphones being rolled out every year, chances are you've accumulated a phone or two in the past that you don't need anymore.