2020 has been a financially tough year for a lot of people. 2019 was actually really hard for me, because I took on a lot of business debt and incurred tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt. So I’ve really been trying to keep the pursestrings tight. Still, it’s important to me to give back to others. So, I started thinking about how I could give to charity without spending money. Encouraged by someone I interviewed about her Dressember experience, I decided to join the team and help raise funds throughout December.

What Is Dressember?

Dressember is a movement to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking. Human trafficking is a cause that I care a lot about for a number of reasons. Therefore, if I could give to charity without spending money and participate in making change in that area, then I definitely wanted to do so.

Here’s how it works:

  • You join or start a Dressember team. I joined the Namaste and Crochet team, and I’ll explore more about why in a moment.
  • You set a goal for how much you’d like to raise. I chose $1000. That felt doable to me but still like it could make a big difference.
  • Every day in December, you wear a dress or a tie. You post about it on social media, also sharing information about human trafficking. Dressember provides a wealth of statistics and research to help people better understand this critical issue. Wondering “why a dress?” Here’s why.
  • In your posts, you encourage people to donate to help you reach your fundraising goal. Want to donate? You can do that here.
  • All of the money goes to help fight human trafficking through prevention, intervention, and protective care for survivors.

And that’s it. By participating in Dressember, I can hopefully give to charity without spending money. I don’t have to break my budget to be able to make a difference.

slow fashion and charitable giving

Why I Chose Dressember and the Namaste and Crochet Team

I was touched by Dressember’s movement to help stop human trafficking. Moreover I appreciate that they help survivors of that trauma.

When I was in my twenties, I was involved in a lot of social work. I did art and writing work with prisoners across the United States. I worked in group homes and with foster children. And I worked in an office that provided case management to recently-arrived refugees. All of those populations are affected by human trafficking. I saw firsthand how much harm this does, right in our own backyard, to people of all ages. Seeing that, how could I not choose this important cause as a place to give to charity without spending money?

The Namaste and Crochet Dressember Team

One of my personal niches of interest, besides the world of personal finance is the world of crafting. Specifically, I’m interested in how handcrafting (crochet, knitting) can help heal individuals and communities. I interview a lot of people about the topic.

In that process, I had a chance to interview Dominique of Namaste and Crochet; read that interview here. She had worked with sex trafficking survivors in Thailand and Cambodia. The experience was amazing, but being around all of that trauma gave her anxiety.  She used crochet to cope.

As a result of her experiences, she became very interested in Dressember. She started participating. And this year she created a team. Moreover, she specifically encourages her team to add that handmade element to the posts. In addition to wearing a dress or tie, her team can wear a handcrafted item, especially a knit or crochet item they’ve made themselves.

give to charity without spending money

The fast fashion industry is a huge contributor to human trafficking. Handcrafted clothing is one slow fashion element. (And yes, you can make and even ethically buy slow fashion; it just takes some research and I’m sharing a lot about that through my Dressember posts.)

So, it all came together for me. I saw a way to share my passion about how crochet heals with a new community. Moreover, I could do that at the same time as I would give to charity without spending money.

Dressember Kicked Off on Giving Tuesday

Dressember starts on December 1st every year and runs throughout the whole month. This year, that happened to also be Giving Tuesday. If you aren’t familiar with it, Giving Tuesday is a movement launched less than a decade ago to encourage generosity around the holidays.

Black Friday sales are great. Small Business Saturday is even better since it supports local and independent shops. CyberMonday is popular. You can get a lot of discounts on the items you want to purchase for the holidays. However, the holidays are also about charity. Giving Tuesday reminds us of that. It’s so inspiring to see how many people give to charity on that day, even on this year that was so hard for so many.

Many people set up their Giving Tuesday fundraisers through Facebook. Facebook matched $7 million in Giving Tuesday donations this year. Dressember has a feature that allows you to link your fundraiser to a Facebook fundraiser. So I checked in on that and it looked like within just a few hours people had donated the $7 million for matching to a wide variety of different causes. Isn’t that amazing?

Why I Wanted to Give to Charity Without Spending Money

dressember charitable giving

I spend a lot of time thinking about personal finance issues. In particular, of course, I spend a lot of time thinking about my personal finances. I know about budgeting, saving, investing. But living a frugal life doesn’t mean living a myopic life. While being money-conscious matters to me because I don’t want the stress of debt, it isn’t the only thing that matters. It’s important to live a quality life that aligns with all of your ethics.

Therefore, it’s important to me to support causes that I care about. I didn’t want to spend the money on donations this year. If I had budgeted for that at the start of the year, then I would have. However, that was not the case. So instead, I wanted to give to charity without spending money. I could have done this in a variety of different ways. For example, I could have volunteered my time somewhere. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, that feels hard for me. So, Dressember made a lot of sense.

And, of course, in a sense I’m donating my time. It does take time to take the photos every day. It definitely takes time to write about the statistics so that people really understand why it’s important to fight human trafficking. And since I’m doing the additional handmade element, I’m also researching and sharing about the benefits of crafting and the importance of slow, sustainable fashion. Then there’s all of the liking and commenting and sharing that goes into promoting something on social media. So, I’m giving my time, and I’m hoping that people who do have money to give to charity this year can contribute to my fundraiser. That way, through encouraging them to give to charity, I’m able to give, too.

My way is, of course, just one way. Have you ever found a way to give to charity without spending money? Share thoughts in the comments for those who want to do that this year.

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