When 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.