It's the holiday season, and I am always looking for more ways to give, both to the people I know and love and to charities that do important work. The ideal for me is to give gifts that do both: bring joy to the people around me and help people around the world.
Because I'm very anti-clutter, whenever possible I like to give gifts that won't just end up sitting around people's houses. Both Heifer International and Oxfam America have unique collections of clutter free gifts that help to end hunger and poverty in the world. Through Heifer International, you can give things like sheep and goats to villages in need and send your family a card. The Oxfam program is similar, but with a larger variety and price range of gifts. What I like best about these two programs is that you are giving a donation in someone's name, but they are also able to see exactly what that donation will accomplish.
If you would rather give something tangible, consider giving a gift that also triggers a donation and supports humanitarian work. Mercy Corps coffee is grown through a partnership that allows $2 from the sale of each pound of coffee (that's 1/3 of the price) to go directly back into Mercy Corps charitable programs. I also like the artisan collection at The Child Health Site because it does good in two ways. The items are made by artisans in the developing world, thus supporting the growth of small businesses internationally. Plus, every purchase triggers a donation through The Child Health Site to charities that support children. If you aren't into the artisan items, you can check out the large number of items for sale across The Hunger Site suite, many of which raise awareness and all of which trigger donations to good causes. Or, if you are looking for a more traditional gift, consider shopping through iGive, a charity portal that allows you to give to the charity of your choice while purchasing at the stores you normally frequent online.
While I'm on the subject, consider the sources of your holiday cards. It may be a little late for this year, but Feeding America has a collection of Christmas cards that raise money and awareness to help fight hunger in America. One of my favorites though is St. Jude's Ranch, a shelter for homeless and abandoned children which sells recycled cards made by the children themselves. They also accept donations of used card fronts. Read the website for more details.
Please feel free to share with me your favorite ways to give gifts that give twice, and check out more ways to give at Saving and Giving.