Why You Should Do This Before Your Next Gift Exchange (plus 9 awesome charities for the holidays)

Here is a kindness hack that will also make your holiday shopping easier and more meaningful this season, with this great challenge inspired by one of our own staff. It really works and has been a wonderful way to involve the children in her family for many years. Plus it seriously eliminates the time and hassle of finding “the perfect gift” because it’s practically perfect in every way.


We all have that person in our family who seems like they already have, well everything. You know the ones I’m talking about. They probably already have the iPhone X. They probably got it presale. Or maybe we have family members who just had a baby and their house is busting at the seams with stuff. And we can’t leave out the parents or grandparents who tell us selflessly year after year that “family and cheer is all they desire” for a gift. This sentiment, although lovely, doesn’t make it easy for us in our holiday shopping, where we strive to find the perfect gift.


Well, this year might be the year those particular family members get their wish and then some because we’re challenging you to limit that carbon footprint and give the gift of charitable giving this holiday season.


How To Do a Charitable Giving Gift Exchange


 Come up with a list of causes that mean something to you. Animals could be one example, or homeless support, carbon emissions reduction maybe, or education for girls… There are so many causes that need our help and no amount of monetary support is too small. Once you determine what cause you want to give to do some research (guides below). Make your donation receipt into a special card (some organizations will do this for you) and present to a family member or your entire family during your holiday gift exchange. The family will love to hear about your donation and why you chose that charity.


Holiday Honor Gifts (and why we love them)


What’s great about charitable giving is that thanks to new technology we can gift very specific things in honor of one of our family members. Incredible platforms such as UNICEF have comprehensive sites that let you narrow down your cause to something as specific as “giving a women in Uganda access to a hospital to deliver her child safely in” (I always gift this one for Mother’s Day), or Kiva, which connects you to a business owner in a developing country that you’ve helped. We’re no longer sending a check with no idea of where it’s being applied. By involving donors on a more personal level, giving has never been more rewarding and gifting a donation in a family member’s name is a wonderful educational experience for all involved. Some charities will even generate a beautiful card with that person’s name on it, and send it to them in the mail.


Best Holiday Charity Donations:


For Tiny Tots


  • San Diego Humane Society: This great local shelter lets you conveniently select items for their furry residents in need from their com wish lists, and items will be shipped directly to the shelter’s doors. Get donation receipts and honor a family member with a pet wishlist donation in their name.
  • Caterina’s Club: A groundbreaking Southern Californian organization born from celebrity chef Bruno Serato and his resturant’s mission to feed and nurture homeless children in Anaheim. Through food and compassion, his family provides children with the resources, love, and encouragement they need to be healthy, safe, and educated. Despite a devastating fire at the restaurant last year, the organization continues to campaign for it’s charitable causes and will host it’s annual Pastathon this December. Check out their great donation platform and customized cause crowd funding opportunities.
  • Guide Dogs For The Blind: Your little ones will love to learn about how guide dogs can be such good workers and much-needed companions for the blind. This is a great organization that has a fantastic honorary gift platform for donors.
  • Heifer International: Ending hunger and poverty by the donation of animals to families in developing nations. This one is so cool- you can literally donate a goat to a family (or chickens, etc), and that animal will provide product for them to not only consume but also to sell. Field workers work with families to help them start farming businesses to prevent hunger and poverty. Kids love this one.


For Bigger Kids


  • Unicef: The most action-specific of all gift donation platforms, helping children in over 150 countries by making a meaningful difference. While other organizations allow supporters to purchase symbolic gifts, Inspired Gifts by Unicef are real items such as mosquito nets, therapeutic milk, school-in-a-box kits, and other creative gifts that have an instant impact. They’ll also generate a beautiful card for your honoree and will send via post or ecard.
  • Amnesty International: Well respected Human Rights organization that has incredible educational resources. Choose between different categories of causes to donate to, and get all the most up to date information on what matters most to you. When you make a donation in someone else’s name they generate a beautiful personalized card for your honeree. Mail or e-card options available at no extra cost. Great for out-of-town family.
  • Kiva: A novel non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Pick a specific borrower and follow their development! It’s great for empowering woman business owners in developing nations. My friend is a field worker for them, and they take the vetting process for borrowers very seriously so you know your loans are going to good cause.
  • The Humane Society: You’ve probably heard of it, and if you want to support animals in need look no further. The most comprehensive and groundbreaking animal welfare organization there is out there, and again, a wonderful place to get free educational resources. For a $10 or more gift donation they will provide a card, and for a $25+ donation, your recipient will receive a year-long subscription to their magazine.
  • Watsi: Giving to Watsi can be an incredibly impactful experience for you and your children to do together. It’s a technology to finance universal healthcare by crowdfunding surgeries and providing community-based health coverage. On their gorgeous site, you can scroll through profiles of patients that need medical procedures but cannot afford them, seeing patient’s pictures, bios and dollar sums of what’s needed for their treatments.