Charitable Gifts

Typically during the holiday season, we focus on those closest to us. And that’s not a bad thing. But it’s good to remember that there are many people outside of our immediate spheres that could use some help.

What you might not think about is that these two ideas can be combined to create some really thoughtful gifts. On this blog, we suggest charitable gifts that reach out to others on behalf of those you love.

Watsi has Gift Cards!

Looking for a last minute? How about a last minute gift that can make a HUGE difference in someone’s life?

Watsi is a non-profit organization that connects donors to people around the world in need of medical treatment, but unable to pay for that medical treatment.


You see a patients story, learning about their lives and their medical condition. Once you select a patient, 100% of your donation goes on to that patient’s medical needs. And most patients are in areas where health care costs are relatively low, so your dollars can go a long way.

And now they have Gift Cards. Someone you can love can make a real difference in someone’s life. There’s an option too for email delivery, so it’s not too late to get that gift.

Watsi Logo

This is a great time of year for gifts, and it’s also a great time to give back and think of others. Give a thoughtful, impactful gift with Watsi Gift Cards.

World Wildlife Fund

Is your intended gift recipient an animal lover? The World Wildlife Fund offers a Gift Adoption Card that is a cute and charitable way to give. These cards, which can be purchased in increments of $50, are a symbolic “adoption” of an animal.  The recipient can choose which type of animal to adopt (from over 100 different species!) and will receive a thank you gifts that include:


  • A soft plush version of their adoption animal
  • A Species Spotlight card full of fascinating information about the animal
  • A handsome 5″x7″ adoption certificate, suitable for framing
  • A beautiful 5″x7″ full-color photo of their adoption animal
  • A drawstring gift bag

They’ll receive something tangible as a thank you and the best part is that the donation goes toward supporting WWF’s conservation efforts worldwide. This is a great gift for kids as they’ll learn about the WWF, feel the good that comes from giving to charity, but will still get something cuddly to love.


To learn more about this program, click here. To learn more about the World Wildlife Fund and their conservation efforts, visit their main website at


Books for Africa

Growing up I was always a reader but have only recently started understanding the great impact books can have on a person’s life and future. This was really driven home when I heard about  William Kamkwamba.

William Kamkwamba is a Malawian man who at the age of 14 had to drop out of high school because his family could not afford the school’s fees. William did not let this misfortune stop his pursuit of a better life through education but instead began borrowing books about energy from a small community library. He then went on to build a windmill out of materials he found in a local scrap yard to power his home. Word got out about William’s endeavors and after a series of events including giving a TED talk and writing a book, he is now in his senior year at Dartmouth College.

With that, we will be taking a look at Books for Africa (BFA) – a charity that seeks to provide the same resources that opened up William Kamkwamba’s future to other students and kids like him in Africa.

books for africa logo

What is it?

Unfortunately a great number of kids in many African countries do not have access or have very limited access to books. Books for Africa hopes to end this book poverty in Africa by sending books to Africa. Simple and straightforward. In their own words:

“The mission of Books For Africa is to end the book famine in Africa. With your help, we will help create a culture of literacy and provide the tools of empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers, and leaders in Africa.”

How can I give?

BFA has 3 ways to donate to their cause. You can donate funds to BFA, donate to a specific BFA project, or honor a friend with a donation. This third option is especially great because the person you honor with a donation receives a handwritten note card or email from BFA. You can also donate books to BFA.

I think the great thing about Books For Africa is that it is such a simple idea for a charitable organization but it is one that has real and immediate impact. With the various ways of giving to its cause, BFA is a great charitable gifting opportunity and one to consider when you’re looking for a gift for someone who has everything!

Charity Navigator

When giving to any charity organization, a question that is always at the back of my mind is: just how much of this donation is actually going to the cause? Today, rather than presenting a charitable gift opportunity, we wanted to share a tool for answering this question and finding great charities that efficiently do what they claim they do. Enter: Charity Navigator!

Charity Navigator

What is it?

The mission statement of Charity Navigator, according to their website, is as follows:

“Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.”

Simply, this means that Charity Navigator allows givers to know how effectively the funds they give are used by different charitable organizations in  hopes of compelling charities to more effectively meet their objectives.

How does it work?

Charity Navigator accomplishes its goal by investigating each charity and evaluating the organization on the qualities of financial health, accountability, and transparency. Each company can receive a maximum of 4 stars and a maximum rating of 70 based on these qualities. The ratings can be viewed on the company’s Charity Navigator page along with statistics that justify the rating.

According to Charity Navigator,

“Our ratings show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information.”

I should also mention that Charity Navigator does not accept funding from any of the charities it rates to keep its evaluations unbiased.

charity navigator

Moving Forward

While it should not be the only measure taken into consideration before funding a charity, Charity Navigator is definitely an important and useful tool to employ when researching charitable giving opportunities. It is certainly one we use here at Charity Gifts and we encourage you to check it out next time you are planning on making a charitable donation.


The charitable gifting opportunity we will be presenting today is very similar to KIVA, which was the first charitable featured by Charity Gifts, in the sense that it allows its users to essentially make a loan to a small business but with the added feature of expected interest.

The name of this opportunity is Microplace.


What is it?

According to their website,

“MicroPlace is a brokerage platform where you can invest in companies that are creating a positive social impact in the U.S. and abroad and that offer a financial return to you.”

This means for $20 or more I can fund an organization that is creating real, positive change in its community and possibly earn a return between 0.5% and 4.5% on my investment which I can invest in another company if I so choose. How awesome is that!

microplace Quote

How does it work?

To get started changing the world one investment portfolio at a time, a user creates a MicroPlace brokerage account, looks through the investment opportunities available, which are organized by social causes, location, and financials, selects an investment and investment amount. They’ll then purchase a short-term note through an insurer, an organization carefully selected by MicroPlace, which offers investment opportunity focused on solving a social issue.

Why is it a great gift?

Microplace is such a great charitable gifting opportunity because it is an opportunity that keeps on giving. Not only is the giver likely to get their donation back with interest which can be the fuel for another cause investment but also because the cause invested in is likely to cause a chain of positive events for the community.

Toys for Tots

Sometimes, a loved one really doesn’t need any more stuff. But there so many children out there that do, and their families are struggling to provide for them. Around Christmastime, you might consider helping someone for Christmas, on behalf of someone in your family.

This week, we’re going to focus on a big organization that you’ve probably heard of: Toys for Tots.

Toys for Tots - toy donation charity

The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots mission is simple: “to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”

Here’s how it works:

One individual, either a Marine, member of a Marine Corps League Detachment, or member of a local community organization, is designated the Toys for Tots Coordinator for that community.

Local toy collection campaigns begin in October and last until mid to late December.  Toy distribution also takes place mid to late December.  Members of the community drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes positioned in local businesses.  Coordinators pick up these toys and store them in central warehouses where the toys are sorted by age and gender.  At Christmas, Coordinators, with the assistance of local social welfare agencies, church groups, and other local community agencies, distribute the toys to the less fortunate children of the community.

Toys for Tots works with the community and within the military structure to keep its programs lean and efficient.

And they make it easy to donate to the organization, and 97% of your online donation goes to the mission of Toys for Tots, i.e. getting those toys out to girls and boys. This is a nice way to participate in holiday shopping for toys but to also share with those who are less fortunate. It’s also a great gift to give in someone else’s honor.


Are there any students in your life? Anyone with a certain lust for learning? Or anyone that blindly stumbles out onto the internet in search of answers to life’s pressing and not so pressing questions? Chances are they–like 450 million others–have stumbled to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia! - Meaningful Charity Gifts

For those of you who haven’t yet made that digital pilgrimage (where have you been?!), Wikipedia is the free online encyclopedia. It is a non-profit that relies on donations alone to make ends meet. And as it’s the #5 site on the internet, it requires quite a bit  of cash to make those ends meet.

Here’s what their notice says:

Dear Wikipedia readers: We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 150 staff but serve 450 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations. If everyone reading this gave the price of a cup of coffee, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. We just need .3% of readers to donate an average of about $30. We’re not there yet. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.

And really, who can say no to this face:

Unfortunately, there’s not a good way to give the Wikipedia donation as a gift, but perhaps you could pair your donation with a card like this! Supporting Wikipedia is a great way of supporting anyone who has a love of learning and is constantly seeking more knowledge.. or, just settling bets.

Food Banks

As we look forward to stuffing our bellies in the company of family and friends this holiday season, it’s a nice thing to set aside a bit of time to remember the many that are less fortunate, particularly as the economy continues to be sluggish. It’s been reported that 1 in 7 American households were “food insecure,” meaning that at some point in the year, they struggled to put food on the table for their family.

food donation charity

Consider donating some time this week. Then when you’re ready to give gifts down the road, consider making a donation on the behalf of a family member to their community’s food bank. Your donation can mean a lot, particularly if the recipient’s city or region has been hit harder in the economic downturn.

So what’s a charitable gift suitable for kids? Well how about a charitable gift FOR the kids. The good people at have a great way to do it.

gift donation for school

DonorsChoose is a bit like Kickstarter or Kiva. You pick where your donation is going to go. But DonorsChoose is specifically focused on schools and education. (See! It’s for the kids!)

Here’s how it works: Teachers submit projects for funding. Those projects are vetted by DonorsChoose, so you know the supplies are going to real teachers with real projects. The projects get listed onto the website where you (the noble donor) can give any amount you like to fund that project. Once the project has met it’s funding goals, DonorsChoose sends the equipment and supplies to the teacher. And voila! The kids learn new and awesome stuff.

And DonorsChoose makes it easy to give a donation as a gift. They actually have a bunch of options to choose from, so you can customize how you want the gift to appear and function.

This can be a great way to raise money for a local school, or to teach your child to look out for other kids. Check it out at

Heifer International

I’m happy to write this week about one of my favorite globally focused charities: the magnificently named Heifer International. There’s something about the name that strikes me as funny. I feel like they have scores of trained cow agents. Bessie, International Super Spy:

donate farm animals
(Source: KHOLOR)

Oh yeah, and it’s a good charity, too! In donating to the charity, you buy (typically) an actual animal for a family in need. How cool is that? You get to buy a cow! Or a llama! Or a whole flock of chickens!

The neat thing about Heifer is that the recipients of the donation promise to give the first offspring of the livestock to another family in need. As a result, your one donation can continue to help many for years and years.

The prices vary, depending on the type of livestock. And if donated sheep aren’t your game, you also have the opportunity to buy ovens, send kids to school, etc.

But what’s fun about buying a goat? You can buy one goat as a charitable gift on behalf of your whole family. Then, on the big day, you can designate exactly which part of the goat you donated on their behalf.

“Sis, you’re awesome. You get to give a pair of goat horns.”

“Aunt Gertrude, thanks for all those Christmas sweaters over the years. You get to give the goat’s … um… rump.”