[Family & Community]

Your Altruistic Guide to Gift Giving

By: Christine Kent

We all have friends and family members who have everything, which makes it nearly impossible to shop for them. Don’t stress! This year, give them a meaningful holiday gift that also helps someone in need.

You can donate to a charitable organization in their name. Some charities have catalogs where donors can browse wish lists and choose specific presents to purchase, while others share photos of those benefiting from support.

Explore these unique ways to give back this holiday season—there’s something for everyone on your list!

For a Teacher: Support Schooling

Through the International Rescue Committee, donors can cover a year of school fees and books for children in countries like Nigeria and Syria. Another idea for a teacher in your life: At Donors Choose, a nonprofit that connects people to classrooms and teachers in need, you can sort donation opportunities by areas of interest, like art or technology education. Can’t pick? Purchase a Donors Choose gift card, and let your recipients select a classroom or school themselves.

For an Animal Lover: Adopt an Elephant or Giraffe

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, based in Kenya, has been fighting to preserve endangered species in Africa and cares for animals like elephants and rhinos at its preserve. Wouldn’t the animal lovers on your list love to “foster” an orphaned elephant? They can even browse through a list of animal photos and stories and choose one to support, like Kithaka, an elephant calf rescued at just one week old.

And for those younger animal lovers that may still want something to unwrap come Christmas morning, consider these adoption kits from World Wildlife Fund. Choose a species to support, like the American bison or Central African gorillas, and the organization will provide a cute plush animal toy along with an “adoption” certificate.

For a Business Mogul: Help Entrepreneurs Around the World Grow Their Businesses

Kiva’s mission is to alleviate poverty through microloans that help people start and grow their small businesses. Have an entrepreneur in the family? Give her a Kiva gift card this holiday season. She can then go online to Kiva.org and choose a small business to support, like a poultry farmer in Kenya.

For Anyone: Give a Child Clean Water and Mosquito Nets—or Soccer Balls and Musical Instruments

Still have a few names left on your list? Peruse Save the Children‘s extensive gift catalog and choose a gift that can help a child anywhere in the world. Select from necessities such as antibiotics, clean water kits and mosquito nets, or opt for toys, instruments and books. You’ll receive a festive card showcasing the item you chose, which you can then present. CARE, one of the oldest international charities, has a similar gift catalog featuring “Gifts of Lasting Change.”

Looking for more gift ideas that do good? Download the ThatHelps app to find ideas for giving back during the holiday season.

Photo: WWF