I'm wrapping up my gift-giving series (pun intended) with a listing of charitable gifts. For those impossible-to-buy-for folks or just for your own sense of Christmas spirit, you may want to consider giving charitable gifts - they really do keep on giving. While they're less traditional, they're no less tangible. They will make a difference in the lives of others, and will make you feel good in the process.
This Christmas make someone smile...for a lifetime. Smile Train provides free cleft surgery for children worldwide to give them confidence, health, and a smile that will last forever. A simple surgery and $250 can change a child's life.
Shopping List for the World
Alternative Gifts.org brings together several worthy organizations, and provides you with a shopping list to let you choose where your donation goes. Want to provide water wells in Sudan? How about helping recently freed slaves? Or neonatal training in Romania? A gift card will be sent to your friend detailing the gift and the program.
Give a Goat
Or seeds, or emergency aid...and more. World Vision.org is committed to meeting all the most basic human needs of the most impoverished and war-torn locations of the world. One goat ($75) will provide a family with milk, cheese, and yogurt (as well as baby goats and organic fertilizer!) Clean water and sanitation, medical supplies, and soccer balls (because kids still need to have a little fun) are all in their gift catalog.
Changing The Present
You can make a difference now...and in the future. Changing the Present is another gift site that brings together worthy causes with a user-friendly giving site where you choose your cause and how it is used. From blankets for children to demining fields and micro-loans, there are lots of great opportunities to make a difference. They also offer a gift registry and host a Hall of Shame of the stupidest gifts out there. Boggles the mind, some of those dumb trinkets.
Support the Bell Ringers
The Salvation Army is an evangelical organization that provides emergency relief world-wide. They are famous for their red kettles and bells during the Christmas season, but unfortunately many stores have banned the bell ringers. Bah humbug, because they've been around for more than 100 years and are working in 117 countries. If you'd like to support disaster relief, war-torn family tracing, or other social services, donations can be made online.
Before you give, check out your charities. Charity Navigator evaluates charities based on criteria such as efficiency and administrative expenses. You can see how well, or how poorly, the organizations function, allowing you to make better choices about where you donate.
Now start crossing things off your shopping list!