Helping Hand

You’ve probably received a few flyers in the mail by this point that advertise how you can buy a goat for an ailing family in Tunisia, or something along those lines. While I love the general idea of a charitable donation in lieu of giving into consumerism / corporate greed etc. etc., there’s something to be said about *how* you go about doing this.

Namely, I think if you’re going to go the donation route, why not let the people you’re buying for have a say as well? Thankfully, there are two ways you can go about doing this. The first is through This non-profit organization represents tons of charities across the country by setting up a place where generous folks like ourselves can donate. The advantage is that many small charities which otherwise may not be able to afford ecommerce sites will have the opportunity to make donations that much more visible and convenient for donors. actually has gift cards for sale as well, so you can present your giftees with something tangible and let them peruse the organizations on the site to choose where to spend their donor dollars. They also have a similar product called ‘Giving Pages’. If you’re in a generous mood this Christmas, or for some other special event, consider setting up a ‘Giving Page’ in lieu of gifts and have your friends and family members funnel money directly to the organization of your choice.

If you want to go for something a little more exotic in the philanthropic department, consider giving someone a Kiva Card instead. I first heard about Kiva some years ago from a coworker, and was pretty impressed by the whole thing which has only gained more traction since then. Basically Kiva is a portal to various microfinance institutions around the world. Entrepreneurs in developing countries work with these microfinanciers to upload stories and pictures regarding their initiative, and what they would like a loan for. You choose who you want to support in the form of a loan, and Kiva and their partners handle the rest, meaning you get your money back down the line to make another investment.

Kiva has made a strong name for itself a trustworthy, genuine company that really is making a difference in these people’s lives. It’s such a small commitment that has such a huge impact, and having the ability to put your money where your heart is makes for such a special gift. The entertainment value of browsing through the site and the heartwarming side effects of finally choosing where to pledge your dollars are easily enough to forgo the traditional unwrapping of presents this year. Your giftees’ may choose to support someone from their home nation, or working to better society in a way they find valuable, or simply someone whose story they connect with.

Of course, there are TONS of organizations that need your help. These are just two unique, special ways that lets you give back and lets your giftee choose exactly where. And as a final gift to yourself, don’t forget about those tax receipts!

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