The Philanthropy411 2010 Charitable Gift Guide


Cyber Monday is behind us (thank god!). Now it’s time to finish your holiday shopping so you can do what you truly enjoy during the holidays: spend time with friends and loved ones, take time off work to relax, volunteer to help those in need, appreciate all the wonder and beauty of life, and oh yes, attend all those holiday parties!  Why not put your holiday shopping dollars to work for a great cause?

I’ve put together 13 fabulous gift ideas, so you can give gifts that will be cherished while supporting nonprofits that are making a difference at home and across the globe.

Give the Gift of Giving – A flurry of organizations are offering charitable gift cards, allowing the gift recipient to pick an organization to receive a charitable donation. 

  • CharityNavigator and Network for Good are partnering to offer Good Cards, which can be redeemed as a donation to the recipient’s charity of choice. You pick an amount to load on the Good Card (between $10 and $250) and your recipient selects the charity (or charities) to receive the donation.  Cards can be sent via email, print-at-home or postal mail.
  • Global Giving offers gift cards and the recipients can choose from over 1,000 pre-screened grassroots charity projects around the world to support, such as educating girls and fighting poverty in Senegal, or helping Oxfam provide flood disaster relief in Pakistan.
  • offers gift cards to support classroom projects in schools across the U.S. Your recipient chooses a project to support and hears back from the classroom! This gift card was also one of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2010.
  • CharityChoice Gift Cards just announced the launch of a new method for giving charity gifts to friends on Facebook and Twitter. You can now create a personalized charitable GivingBuddy ecard that can be shared with Facebook friends on their Wall or as a direct message on Twitter. CharityChoice provides a redemption URL for the card, to be attached as a link when sharing with your friend.
The Good Card

Give Hope in a Bottle… A Water Bottle – Be like Matt Damon and give a  CamelBak water bottle to your family and friends. You know, the ones who go hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or just like staying hydrated. is selling these limited edition bottles, and 100% of the profits go directly to support people around the world who lack clean water. Give just one bottle ($19 or $25) and you help a child get clean, safe water. How cool and refreshing is that?!

Matt Damon shows off his CamelBak water bottle

Give a Cow – Or a water buffalo, llama, goat, or camel! Make a donation through Heifer International, and give an animal to a family in need. One cow provides 4 gallons of milk per day for a family. After your donation, you’ll have the opportunity to create a printable gift card or e-card to tell your friends and family that you’ve honored them with a Heifer gift.

Recommend Products You Love To Help Causes You Care About – Recommend your favorite products at, choose a charity, and share your product recs with your friends, family and followers via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. When someone buys one of your recommended products, will donate 100% of its earnings to your charity through the end of December (they normally provide 51%).  To learn more about, check out my earlier blog post “A New Source of Funding for Nonprofits: Product Recommendations.”

Give a Tote Bag – H&M and UNICEF have partnered to offer this hip, organic cotton tote for the All for the Children campaign created by H&M and UNICEF. Thirty percent of the price of the bag will be donated to the charity, and they will be sold at H&M locations.

Tote bag from H&M benefits Unicef

Give Gifts to Benefit US Soldiers and Veterans – Many thanks to Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, for bringing my attention back to the needs of veterans (I previously worked at a VA Medical Center) through his informative blog posts and tweets.  You can give a $40 pre-paid phone card to American soldiers abroad through the CauseCast Store and USO. Or you can buy President Obama’s new children’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, and his book proceeds will be donated to the Fisher House Foundation to provide scholarships to children of US veterans. Buy the book on Amazon through my recommendation, and also benefits! Fisher House is 4-star rated on Charity Navigator, and I know from personal experience that they provide tremendous support to veterans.

My recommendation for "Of Thee I Sing" on

Give the Gift of No More Junk Mail – For $10 Precycle will remove someone’s name from junk mailing lists (80% reduction) and save some of the 93.5 million trees destroyed each year to create all that clutter. They will also plant 5 trees in the person’s name (for $20 you get all that plus a tote bag and 2 eco-friendly light bulbs!). Thanks to for this charitable gift tip!

Buy From the Sesame Street Store – When you purchase Sesame Street products from their online store, the proceeds help Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit organization, produce Sesame Street and other programs that give opportunity and hope to children in more than 120 countries. Go ahead, you know you want an Elmo hat! Gift Collections – Each gift collection features four charities that support a specific cause, such as feeding the hungry, supporting women globally, ending animal cruelty, and promoting human rights. They’ve pre-selected 4 charities for each cause to make it easy for you, and the collection is sent in a gift basket. You can select the amount for each charity, with a minimum of $40 per collection.

Support A Nonprofit For Free with Target –  While shopping online at Target (you know who you are), you can create a simple wish list and Target will donate $5 to a new nonprofit each week, up to $50,000. As I write this post, this week’s charity is the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Last week it was the Salvation Army.

Lastly, check out these other terrific charitable gift giving guides from, Mashable, and the Charitable Gift Giving Blog!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

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