2015 Gift Guide: For the Do-Gooder

2015 Gift Guide: For the Do-Gooder

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Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Yeah…we haven’t either. But never fear. Our 2015 Gift Guide series will help you nail every single gift on your list.

For most people on our holiday lists, the perfect present is easy to figure out. But there’s always a few that are trickier; what do you get the person who already has everything, or the person who isn’t into material or even homemade items? Fortunately, there’s an easy and graceful solution: honor them by picking a charity relevant to their interests and donating in their name. It’s a win-win; you gift a truly thoughtful present, your giftee gets the warm fuzzies and the charity of your choice gets the help it really needs.

Picking the appropriate charity is part of the fun: think about what your giftee is passionate about and go from there. Whether they’re an animal lover or social justice crusader, you’ll be able to find the perfect match. With most gift donations, you’ll have the option to email or print out a donation/gift card for your recipient, and some donations will include progress reports throughout the year.

The charity recommendations below are all top rated by Charity Navigator, an organization that grades non-profits and ensures your donation gets the most bang for its buck. There are a zillion deserving charities out there, here are five to get you started.


For the animal lover: PAWS (Performing Animals Welfare Society) runs three animal sanctuaries in Northern California; their mission is to provide refuge “where abandoned, abused, or retired performing animals and victims of the exotic animal trade can live in peace and dignity.” As such, PAWS provides loving care for a wide variety of creatures: monkeys, elephants, lions, tigers, and bears—oh my! That’s not all they do, though: additionally, they work on “enforcing the best standards of care for all captive wildlife, to the preservation of wild species and their habitat and to promoting public education about captive wildlife issues.” You can make a gift donation, or, even better, you can adopt an animal in your giftee’s name. Your giftee will receive a bio of the lucky creature, along with a certificate of adoption and periodic updates on their progress.


For the women and children’s advocate: Futures without Violence “has been providing groundbreaking programs, policies, and campaigns that empower individuals and organizations working to end violence against women and children around the world.” For more than thirty years, this non-profit has worked to improve the lives and safety of women and children globally, including training doctors and coaches on domestic violence responses, working with policy makers and advocates, and educating communities on how to build safe relationships. Futures will send an ecard to your giftee.

Conservation-International(© William Crosse)

For the environmentalist: Conservation International, located in Virginia, works to create a safer and more sustainable world for all of us. They focus on a three pronged approach: “protecting our natural wealth, fostering effective governance, and promoting sustainable production.” From helping protect marine areas in Indonesia to working with leaders in sub-Saharan Africa on conservation efforts, Conservation International stresses we must act now in order to preserve our natural heritage. An email can be sent to your giftee.


For the writer and bookworm: 826 National, a foundation of creative writing and tutoring centers in seven American cities, was created in 2002 by writer Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari. The goal here is a noble one: “826 National’s chapters offer a variety of inventive programs that provide under-resourced students, ages 6-18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.” These programs include workshops, tutoring, field trips, and the Young Author’s Book Project—and all of these are at no cost to the students. Your gift will help to support staff, purchase resources, and ultimately provide an outlet for kids that really need and deserve it.


For the foodie who doesn’t want anyone going hungry: Consider the local food bank of your giftee. My neighborhood organization, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, reports that “your $25 donation to the CPFB provides 150 meals.” Often, it’s our most vulnerable populations—children and senior citizens—that suffer from food insecurity, and local food banks are one of their best resources. Knowing someone is enjoying a meal, instead of going hungry? Priceless. Many food banks will send a gift letter to the recipient you’ve chosen.

Sometimes, the best gifts are the kind straight from the heart. And the wallet, in this case. So may your heart-wallets be big and your gift donations thoughtful; only the worst kind of Scrooge wouldn’t like these prezzies.

What organization(s) would you like to pick for a gift donation?

6 thoughts on “2015 Gift Guide: For the Do-Gooder”

  1. You’ve given me a gift with the Charity Navigator link! I always wonder if my donations are going where I think they are– this takes away the guesswork!
    I’m going to sponsor an animal from PAWS as a Christmas gift for my brother (I love that the site says: “PAWS’ adoptions are symbolic adoptions only. No animal will be sent!”)

    1. Glad it could help–I always wonder that, too, but Charity Navigator gives you all the pertinent info and it’s so helpful. And yay for PAWS–your brother will love it, I think!

    1. I’m a sucker for animal charities too, but it’s nice to see what else is out there–basically a charity for every interest in the world!

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