Alright, alright, I realize my Christmas post is way too late to help you with your gifting quandaries, and I know lots of folks are moving away from formal gifting during the holidays, but I did want to share some of my favorite charitable gift ideas from the past couple years. Whose to say they can’t be used for birthdays or weddings too?
Since we started the Clean Bin Project, we have been blessed to receive a number of charitable donations as gifts. They fit right in with our mandate as they added nothing to our trash cans, but lots to our happiness.
- Sponsor an animal. Friends of ours sponsored a cat at the local SPCA instead of buying many small gifts for friends. We have a (beautiful and talented but way too loud) cat of our own, so we don’t want another one, but the thought of helping out an animal in need is right up our alley. It costs a lot to feed and care for shelter animals, so sponsoring a cat was just the ticket.
- Support families in another country. My aunt and uncle provided seeds for 10 families in Africa to grow their own food. Having your own food garden is near and dear to my heart, so this was a great gift. They supplemented it with a couple of seed packets for me to grow in my own garden. My other aunt and uncle got us a goat. Well, not us, but they bought a goat for someone on our behalf. It will provide milk and food for an entire family and is more of a “hand up” than a “hand out.” Alternatively, you could try an organization like Kiva that gives small loans to entrepreneurs.
- Support a local initiative or program. In the past the company I work for has donated to Union Gospel Mission instead of mailing out corporate cards. There are any number of great community charities to support. Check out a site like Charity Navigator to find one that makes you happy.
- Let the recipient decide. My brother found a great website called Canada Helps where you can choose your own charity. We just had to log on with our gift certificate number, pick a charity of our choice, and the gift certificate is applied to that charity. It’s a great way to let the gift receiver take part, and choose an option that means something to them.
A charitable gift donation is always appropriate. It’s waste-free, and it’s good karma. If you know any other great charities for gift giving, feel free to add them below.
2 responses to “Waste-Free Gift Giving with Good Karma”
I have one word of caution for people giving charitable donation type gifts. Be sure to request (rather demand) that they don’t put you on their mailing list, and that they don’t share your information with other organizations. A few years back I “adopted” a polar bear for my mother for Christmas… I think it was through World Wildlife Fund, but I’m not entirely sure. My mom got a polar bear tote bag and some other polar bear swag and totally loved the gift.
But then… I started getting solicitations in the mail. It wasn’t just from the organization that I had bought the gift from either. Within 6 months I was getting 3-4 solicitations per week from seemingly every wildlife and animal welfare organization on the planet. When I didn’t respond to the requests for money, they upped the ante and started trying to guilt me into giving by sending me return mailing address stickers, maps, calendars, and even hats and T-Shirts!
After a few months of insanity, I started calling every time I got a solicitation and demanding to be taken off of their mailing list. It turned out that the organization to which I originally gave had “shared” my info with a variety of other groups and it wasn’t until I finally was able to reach them and demand that they remove me from their list and NOT share my info that the barrage stopped. It took another 6 months or so before it all ceased.
So that’s my sad story. It still makes me sick to my stomach. Here I was trying to do something good for the environment, but I’m pretty sure that whatever good I did through my initial $50 contribution, it was cancelled out many times over by all of the garbage and carbon that was created in the ensuing flood of solicitations. The truth is that the whole experience totally turned me off to this sort of giving, and I now only give cash donations at events – like where I can drop it an a jar and remain totally anonymous.
Great ideas! Maybe I will use them for birthdays this year 🙂