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When Jana Madill's children were born, she started following her favourite and most-used brands on social media. The Vancouver mom says it's the best way to source deals and see upcoming promotions. Last month, Seventh Generation told followers that for every package of its diapers purchased, one would be donated to a local women's shelter. Ms. Madill stocked up.

If you're already planning to spend, seeking out companies that are giving back to your community is a small way to contribute to a cause, especially if you don't currently have extra cash in your budget to give.

"I make a conscious decision to choose one company over another based on their dedication to the community," says Nick Reiach, who recently used this reasoning in selecting an auto repair shop in Vancouver. "I've heard the Kirmac Cares for Kids radio ads while driving, but I never gave it much thought until I needed a repair." When it came time to fix the scratch on his car, Mr. Reiach says it made sense to go to Kirmac because a small contribution from his bill would go to an important cause: the local children's hospital.

There are a lot of charity-minded companies, and choosing to spend with those that offer giving programs is one way to put your dollars to good use. Another way to give without actually spending is to donate points from your purchases. You can donate your gas-card points to help Paralympic athletes, Shoppers Optimum points to help fly Canadians in rural areas to medical treatment, or HBC rewards to fund Red Cross initiatives. Unused gift cards can also be donated at a site such as

Donating time, points, or skills – or opting to spend with a company that is already giving back – is a great way to contribute to a cause.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at's personal finance site.