It’s that time of year again, when celebrations of light will soon be shining out through the long, dark nights and we warm ourselves and others by giving gifts. For those of you looking for creative ways to give to others (and get the most out of the dollars you have to spend), here are a few places to consider, either to find gifts or to give a donation in honor of someone you love. If you have other ideas, I hope you’ll add them in the comments.

Spare the air, avoid the crush and find unique gifts that give and give again by shopping on line through the Greater Good store. The Greater partners with many different charities, both national and international. Enter through a listed charity’s site and find your way into an online store that supports them all; your purchases benefit the site through which you entered. (From what I can tell, not all items are sold through all sites–you might want to wander around through the different charities.) In addition to benefitting good causes, many of the products for sale are organic, or green, or fair trade–and quite a few are made by organizations that are themselves charities. Your dollars spread out like bread on the water here.

Greater Good also has a program called Gifts That Give More: 100% of your tax-deductible contribution passes through to the charity of your choice. Downloadable certificates are available to give to your loved ones that support charities or causes they’re interested in. Sleep nets for Burma, Africa or Haiti; chemotherapy for one week for an American with breast cancer; child nutrition kits; needlework lessons and materials for an Afghan widow: all that and more are available through this store. (Be sure to check out the sales items!)

Fair Trade Resource Network is just that. Want info about the concept? Events in your area? Stores and eshops? Employment or business ops? They’ll link to helpful sites.

The Link Center Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Colorado which provides emergency heating and utility assistance to the Elders, disabled and ill who live on the Lakota reservations of South Dakota. Winters there are long and very cold (they had their first blizzard already in November); unemployment is 85% on the res, and the average monthly income is reported as $350. LCF notes that nearly 60% of Elder households are caring for grandchildren or great grandchildren.

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest) has been providing food and enriching lives in the U.S. for thirty years. If you don’t know how to get in touch with your local foodbank, click on their name; their food bank locator will zip you to the one nearest you.

Heifer International has a lovely catalog that allows you to ‘buy’ a flock of chicks, a hive of bees, or even an ark of beasties to benefit people round the world. Oxfam has a similar, albeit smaller program of animal donations. Or how about botanicals? Pom354 is a UK-based nonprofit that is helping Afghani farmers switch from poppy to pomegranate production. Global ReLeaf is a US project that has planted trees all over the US and in 21 other countries. They’ve recently started some new projects which you can find at their website, Global ReLeaf International and Wildfire ReLeaf.

Kiva and the Grameen Foundation are two wonderful microfinance organizations that enable you to lend a hand up to someone living in poverty. Your dollars will teach someone to fish (so to speak) and send ripples out into a community.

I can’t finish this post without linking to my personal favorites: the International Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union can always use a hand.

Finally, find charities or vet ones you’re interested in at the Charity Navigator
Cross-posted at JustPeaceNow and Relaxed Politics

Laura Doty

Laura Doty