Let’s face it: These days, most of us have more than enough stuff.
Instead of buying more gadgets and do-dads for your loved ones and friends, have you considered making a charitable donation in their names instead? Or handing out charitable gift cards?
Since the best, feel-goodiest part of gift-giving is knowing you brightened someone else’s day, it makes sense to give your gifts to those who are truly in need — and your recipients might agree with that sentiment, too.
If you’d like to buck the consumerist tradition while still keeping the joy of seasonal gift-giving, there are more than a few alternatives. Best of all, they’re available online and are great choices if your gift-selection deliberations have left you with little time on your hands.
Here’s our list of easy online charitable gift-giving options, including charitable gift cards. We at VentureBeat hope you’ll consider making charitable causes part of your gift-giving plans now and throughout the year.
Donors Choose is a project aimed at the needs of underprivileged classrooms and students. These gift cards can be loaded up with the amount of your choosing, then sent to the recipient who can decide where the funds should go. For example, they can choose a classroom to donate to based on location or subject material. The cards can be mailed, emailed or printed at home.
Unicef’s mission is to save children’s lives through simple improvements such as vaccinations, proper nutrition and clean water. The United Nation’s organization has created gift categories on its site ranging from emergency help to immunizations to education. When you select a gift, you can dedicate it to a friend or loved one, who will then receive a card. Winter Child Survival Packs and Child Survival Food Packs are particularly appreciated around the winter holidays.
Through the Cancer.org website, you can make a charitable donation to honor or remember a friend, family member or loved one. You can choose for your donation to be used to benefit cancer research, a number of specific cancer types (such as breast cancer) or just send it to wherever the funds are most needed.
If clean water is something you’re passionate about, check into the gifts available from charity: water. The organization offers print-at-home cards, a pack of 10 cards to send in the mail or deliver in person, and personalized cards with DVDs and wristbands. All of the proceeds from the purchases are used to fund clean water projects.
World Vision will help you select a gift, mostly focused on the needs of children, for people in needy or underdeveloped communities. This could be as simple as $22 for school supplies or as much as $100 for a woman’s small business or a well to provide clean water. When you select your gifts, you will be sent special cards including a picture and information about the impact that gift will have on those receiving it.
The ubiquitous Salvation Army bell ringers are going high tech this year, taking donations with Square credit card readers and smartphones. Bell-ringers outside the grocery store are only one way Salvation Army raises money for its many projects during the holidays. Salvation Army, which focuses on helping the homeless and destitute, allows you to honor a loved one when making a donation through its website. If you so choose, Salvation Army can send a special letter to your honoree.
Medical emergencies happen everywhere, all the time — especially during natural disasters and political unrest. Doctors Without Borders attempts to respond to those in greatest need with fewest resources. Through the organization’s tribute gifts, you can choose to send an e-card or a mailed letter to let your loved one know about the gift.
For gift-giving, Oxfam will allow you to choose items such as mosquito nets, a dozen chicks or a school meal to be donated to those who suffer from poverty and hunger. The friend or loved on on your shopping list will get a card (via mail or email, or you can print it out yourself) with details about the gift.
For these flexible gift cards, you choose the amount of the total donation, then print or email a card to the recipient. He or she can then choose a nonprofit organization to receive the funds. Another Razoo tool is the Holiday Wish, which allows you to raise funds for your favorite cause through a simple page that can be shared via email and social sites.
Habitat for Humanity is an organization that focuses on building safe, affordable housing for the homeless and at-risk. Through its website, the group lets you make a donation in someone’s name. When making your donation, just choose to have a card mailed or emailed to your gift recipient and choose the occasion of the gift.