Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas and Other Holidays: Donations as Gifts

While some people think that gifts of charity "aren't real gifts," others are thrilled with the idea. If you'd like to pursue this option, here are some examples of ways you might do it.

Please note: I don't know much about the individual charities mentioned; you might want to do your own research before deciding where to give your money. Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and the American Institute of Philanthropy are some places to look for information.

charity gift cards

1. Gifts where the recipient picks the cause

With a card from TisBest, "recipients spend the Charity Gift Card by donating to a charity they believe in, with over 200 carefully selected and responsible 501(c)3 nonprofits listed." There are many different card designs to choose from, too. Other options include Charity Navigator's Good Card, JustGive and CharityChoice Gift Cards.

seal, up for adoption

2. Adopt-an-Animal Programs

At the Marine Mammal Center, you can adopt a seal - like the one shown above.

I once adopted a manatee on someone's behalf, and she loved that gift!

Then there's Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land.

And many zoos have adoption programs. Here are just some of the many options.

BEF promotion - gift of clean energy, carbon offsets

3. Carbon Offsets

BEF is just one place to buy carbon offsets. Here's a list of many more.

animal gifts - llama and water buffalo

4. Other causes

There are so many options here; you might select any cause the recipient cares about. I've mentioned before that I like Seva's Gifts of Service. Other nice options include Treegivers, Oxfam and Kiva. Instead of adopting an animal, you could adopt a library or a school.

Heifer International is a popular choice; you can see some of their options above. I love this story from Rita Emmett:
Bruce and I are in a family that has a grab bag at Christmas time. One month before the holiday, everyone is invited to send suggestions for what they would like to receive.

We both decided we really have all we need, so we asked for a contribution to one of our favorite charities, The Heifer Project. This is an organization where you can donate any amount of money and it goes towards providing a pair of animals to a poor family in a poverty-stricken country. ...

When it came time for everyone to open their grab bag gift on Christmas day, all 36 members of our family gathered. In their usual style, everyone opened their gifts at once, with lots of noise, ripping of paper, showing of gifts, shouting "Look what I got" and general pandemonium.

In the midst of the chaos, Bruce called out, "I got a water buffalo."

Want more clutter-free gift ideas? You can find links to all articles in this gift-giving series here:
Christmas and Other Holidays: A Clutter-Free Gift Guide

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