giving: charitable donations.

December 23, 2014

firewoodWhen you’re at a loss for what to give as the window for holiday shopping comes to a close, a donation in someone’s name is a lovely gift to offer. I like to think of it as last-minute shopping with a hearty helping of generosity.

Growing up, one of my aunts decided that rather than shower the many small children in the family with presents at Christmas, she would donate in our names instead. She’d often still give a small something—an ornament or a lip balm—along with a note saying that she’d also made a donation on our behalf. It was such a sweet gesture and one that was surely appreciated by parents overwhelmed by an influx of Christmas toys. But giving the gift of a donation also reminded my sisters and me of the importance of helping others. At the risk of coming across as sanctimonious, I think the very act of my aunt leading by example was most beneficial of all.

Throughout these posts, I’ve talked a bit about minimalist gift receiving and perhaps the ultimate example of this is to direct would-be gift givers to a charity where they can donate in your name. This year, my sister Laura asked family members to donate to a cause rather than offer her gifts directly. Laura’s training to run a marathon in March, and she’s raising money to donate to the Western North Carolina chapter of Girls on the Run, a non-profit that provides enrichment programs to young girls and inspires them to be “joyful, healthy, and confident” through the art of running. The holiday spirit writ large.

Even when you don’t have much to offer in the way of funds, a small donation can help boost participation numbers and encourage others who might have larger coffers to donate as well. Nearly 40 percent of donations to charities are made at the end of the year and for many organizations, a successful or lackluster December can determine the future of their organization.

You might choose a national non-profit with reach across the country, or a global non-profit giving funds directly to people who need it most, or a small local charity doing work in your own community.

And it’s worth mentioning, especially in light of the tremendous outpouring of notes and words of encouragement that I received to my inbox yesterday, that charitable giving doesn’t only need to come in the form of money. Thank you to so many of you who wrote to me. Your encouragement and kindness has been profoundly touching. I’m signing off for the next few days to cozy up in front of the fire. Wishing you all peace and warmth, whether you’re celebrating Christmas or no.

The rest of this season’s gift guides, right HERE.

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  • Reply Sydney December 23, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    My little sister did Girls on the Run, and it truly is an organization worthy of a donation! I love love love giving donations or charitable gifts around the holidays.

  • Reply Greenjoycie December 24, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I donate to Heifer International. I love the idea of giving someone a flock of chicks.

  • Reply Hannah S December 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Love that you are spreading this idea. Did you get to choose where the gift donation went to?
    For all the parents in our family we usually give them a choice between a bottle of their favorite alcohol, a donation to an animal shelter or a cute scarf/hat combo.
    Happy holidays!

  • Reply Alys December 30, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Its so important to teach children about giving – their little hearts so often want to help and its lovely to show them how easy helping is.

  • Reply Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 11:59 am

    This year I managed to pursuade my mother to give my aunts (who are all in their 70's) personalized donations to charities instead of gifts, one aunt was gifted donations to a school she supports, one a donation to doctors without borders, who she vonlonteers for 1-2 times a year, one aunt was gifted money to a Buddhistic charity (she's a Buddhist nun) and one was gifted a donation to repair the roof of the church she attends and a meal for homeless. And they all really appreciated it. I myself gifted Measels vaccine and story books for UNICEF and blankets for UNHCR.

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