I don’t usually do a blog post recommending Christmas gifts, as I am definitely not qualified to advise people on what is cool or *it* each season. However, I am qualified to talk to people about charitable donations, and gift giving at Christmas.
Charitable donations as a form of gift giving can be quite awkward, especially if the recipients don’t share your enthusiasm for supporting charities. I know this firsthand, as amongst the people I buy for I am the only one who enthusiastically supports charities regularly (and I work for one). This is ok. If you are in the same situation as me, you are not here to force your ideals on to other individuals (even if they are family!). I very strongly believe that charity should be altruistic, and so people should not be donating in order to stop your nagging.
The most obvious way to give a charitable gift at Christmas is to buy charity merchandise, which I shall not discuss. However, if you want to do this I especially love the RSPB and WWF shops (both are particularly good for children as they do educational soft toys and other appropriate gifts). You can also buy membership to a charity, and many charities offer membership if you would like to consider this as a gift. Depending on the charity, membership can include free access to sites, a magazine and discounts with partner organisations. Don’t forget that many zoos and museums are charities, and so membership to them can include free access to exhibitions.
The purpose of this post is to talk about actual donations you can make on behalf of another individual. If you don’t know what to buy someone, or you’re struggling to reconcile Christmas and our consumer culture, giving the gift of a donation is an easy way to solve this problem. The Good Gifts Catalogue translates your donations into a specific project, so that you can donate on behalf of an individual and choose a project that matches their interests. I’ve chosen my eight favourite projects below to get you started.
In order to get a certificate when you leave school in many African countries, you have to pay to sit a final exam. Many students cannot afford this cost, but without their certificate they will find it hard to prove they have received an education and so get a job. This donation pays for one student’s exam. If your budget is a little bigger, you can pay for a year’s schooling instead (£26).
It makes me sad to think that there are children all around the world that are stuck in hospitals, especially at Christmas, and so I am glad that projects like this exist. This donation helps sponsor music sessions for children in hospital. Hopefully it cheers them up and helps pass the time.
Two pairs of shoes – £15
Most of us nowadays are aware of the importance of shoes in preventing infection by parasites, but many children and adults still do not have access to suitable footwear. This donation pays for two pairs of shoes. Alternatively, you could by your recipient a pair of shoes from TOMS shoes, who donate a pair of shoes to charity for every pair they sell.
Donkey-drawn library – £45
This is a great donation for book lovers! This donation purchases new books for a mobile library pulled by a donkey that travels around a war-torn region of Africa (Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda). People living in current and recent war zones do not have easy access to books, and these donkey-powered libraries provide fiction, nonfiction and reference books to affected areas.
Get rid of guns – £25
This is an odd donation, and it won’t be appropriate for everyone. The donation pays for the disposal of weapons in a recent war zone, which is an essential task if weapons are to be prevented from ending up with the baddies. You can also sponsor the clearing of 10m of mines (£17), 30m of mines (£50) 100m of mines (£150), bombs (£85) or you can sponsor an exploder unit that does the whole lot (£650!).
This donation pays for a month’s worth of food for an abandoned cat or dog, which is a bargain. It’s an ideal donation for animal lovers, and a good stocking filler.
The gift of sight – £30
There are many things that we take for granted in life, and one of these things is our sight. Most of us will never know blindness, and if we ever have trouble with our eyes we just pop along to our optician and they sort it out for us. Poorer countries do not usually have this service, and so diseases that are easy to treat are left and an individual can be blind purely because of the geography of their birth. This donation pays for one operation to repair vision.
Prize bull semen – £10
I am including this on my list because I would love to see someone’s face if they received this as a gift! In all serious-ness, this donation pays for an African farmer to receive bull semen from a prize bull, so that his calves can grow up big and strong.
There are many more gifts available through the Good Gifts Catalogue and I recommend having a browse. They are part of the Charity Advisory Trust in the UK, and they check all the projects they support, and so you can rest assured that your money will be well-used.
I hope this post helps you find some alternative gifts this Christmas!
(I wasn’t asked or paid to write this post.)