Holiday gifts for the world.
December 23, 2006 5:46 PM   Subscribe

In need of last-minute Christmas gifts? Want to help the world in some way? Websites like ChangingThePresent and Alternative Gifts International allow you to buy or sponsor something useful as a present - from an hour with a creative coach, to wheelchairs in Cambodia; from walking children to school in the West Bank to flighting corruption. Maybe even a charity gift certificate? [more inside]
posted by divabat (19 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Other charitable gift ideas:

Fish, chickens, and mosquito nets - Oxfam Unwrapped
Sheep, goats, cows, ducks, maybe an ark - Heifer International
Nutrition, immunization, and education for children - UNICEF
Library cards, deworming tablets, and school uniforms - World Vision
Wishes for children - My Two Front Teeth
Environmental skills, cook stoves, and technical training - Universal Giving
Books, for yourself and for others - Book Aid
Light, wind, and water - Practical Action
Olive trees, school kits, and lanterns - Muslim Hands

Have Fun Do Good's Britt Bravo has plenty of ideas for fair trade presents too.
posted by divabat at 5:46 PM on December 23, 2006

Aw, divabat, what a great post ... thanks for the reminder of the true spirit of the season. A small amount can do so much! What a great list you have compiled, kudos to you for that. Here are a few that I like to your list:

Capn gave me this wonderful idea on Metachat :
50 Lanterns.

Also, Free Wheelchair Mission and Play Pumps
posted by madamjujujive at 6:17 PM on December 23, 2006

If you want to give to charity, that's great, but it's not much of a gift to someone.
posted by smackfu at 6:22 PM on December 23, 2006

smackfu: some of those options let you send a gift card to your friend saying "hey, I've donated Such and Such in your name". That makes a great gift - I know it would for me.
posted by divabat at 6:31 PM on December 23, 2006

That... or you could just give sexual favors.
posted by wumpus at 6:42 PM on December 23, 2006

These are great ideas. I would much rather prefer someone donated in my name than give me some useless trinket that would sit around in a cupboard gathering dust.
posted by gomichild at 6:51 PM on December 23, 2006

What gomichild said. I would be delighted if someone gave a donation to a worthy cause in my name - the idea that for under $40, some kid could have a wheelchair - that would be so much more meaningful to me than a few more cds or another damn cheeseboard.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:56 PM on December 23, 2006

Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) is a Christian based nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs for the physically disabled poor in developing countries ...
I really could not control my emotions. Dear friends,the villagers are innocent people and their words of appreciation were so touching to me. I felt the presence of Jesus Christ. As I got into the car to drive back home, I saw whole villagers along with Regi waving the hands. I felt as if the entire world is thanking the Free Wheelchair Mission. This was a Christmas present to Regi in the true sense of Christmas, a reminder that God loves him and sent His son to us to show His love.
Religions practiced in Cambodia by percentage of population (CIA fact book):
Theravada Buddhist 95%, other 5%
posted by orthogonality at 7:10 PM on December 23, 2006

I think it's a great gift. Last christmas my mom sent me a 'charity gift certificate', which was pretty much just a cheque that can only be cashed by a charity, and I thought that was much nicer than getting books or something.
posted by cmonkey at 7:11 PM on December 23, 2006

Those of you wishing to give me a present, which is, let's face it, all of you, can donate in my name to Human Rights Campaign, The Innocence Project, or Disabled American Veterans.

As for what SmackFu says, I think it depends on the person. For someone like me, a gift to the above is far better than some random gift to me. And for some of my family and friends, I'm going that route this year. But for others, not so much. And not because they are selfish, but they just aren't into these issues enough to appreciate it, and the whole POINT of gift giving for me is to give them something they'll appreciate and enjoy.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:33 PM on December 23, 2006

great stuff here---thanks!

Also, if you have any of those tiny USB keychain drive things lying around, donate them to this non-profit: Inveneo.
posted by amberglow at 7:54 PM on December 23, 2006

I hope it's not poor etiquette to link to something I'm responsible for, but if you'd like to give someone the gift of a festive looking Macintosh while donating to charity, you could try A Holiday Cocoa Duel.
posted by smeger at 8:22 PM on December 23, 2006

I can recommend Oxfam unwrapped - used them last year also. Obviously it's very last minute by now, but they're still doing e-cards for gifts, with a physical card sent along a week later or so. They also have a US version.

This year, my parents are getting some small fridge magnets from oxfam thanking them for an alpaca and a goat, and a couple of other things. They wanted charity gifts rather than some ornament they don't have room for. They're still going to get a couple of small presents, but personally I think it's a great idea.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:27 AM on December 24, 2006

For my niece's first birthday this year, her parents decided she already had enough toys. So I dedicated a tree to her and made her a carbon neutral baby.
posted by TheDonF at 5:14 AM on December 24, 2006

I also think it's a great gift. At least I hope so: that's what I got my entire family this Christmas. I wish I'd seen this post earlier though; I wanted them to know what the money actually bought rather than just the organization to which it went. Great post. I'll definitely use it throughout the year!
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 2:00 PM on December 24, 2006

Not much of a gift for someone?! Holy Scrooge and Grinchness, sweet Jesus, it's the holiday season! What better time to give to people less fortunate (not that you shouldn't year round)? The greatest gift is life and the gift of helping someone else's life is a gift that actually keeps on giving. Sorry, it's just that 'charity = lame gift" attitude irks me to no end. Yes, the world needs more useless crap, right?

thanks Divabat for a great set of links.

For what it's worth, yes, I put my money where my mouth is and made up food baskets of fair trade stuff from Ten Thousand Villages, and gift certificates to Novica. I highly recommend Novica - a great looking site with fantastic products that do fast shipping and go to a great cause (it's run in partnership with National Geographic and helps support local artisans around the world).
posted by rmm at 3:01 PM on December 24, 2006

Careful with - five days ago, my colleague at OLPC News found them accepting donations for OLPCs when they were not entitled to do so. have subsequently dropped all reference to the offer, but google cache still carries the pages in question.

I have yet to hear anyone from explain their thinking behind the OLPC donations and this makes me wonder about the other giving opportunities on offer through their site.

It could be a case of them being overeager in accepting donations, or maybe they aren't all they say they are. As far as I'm concerned, the verdict is still out (unless anyone here has dealt with them and can enlighten me).

Go scooby gang, go!
posted by davehat at 12:46 AM on December 26, 2006

Instead of my friends and relatives getting Xmas cards this year, somebody will be getting a fistula repaired.

Inspired by this post.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:49 AM on December 26, 2006

I thought I would double back here and share my holiday experience that fits in with the theme of this thread.

I am so lucky to have such a thoughtful and creative niece. She shopped at GreaterGood - a site well worth checking out. Through it, she purchased fabulous hand-crafted Peruvian earrings for me - a beautiful gift that not only supported a local artisan, but the purchase also funds 25 cups of food through the Hunger Site. She also made a donation in my name that will provide a year of school uniforms and supplies for two girls in rural Afghanistan. These were both very meaningful presents to me, the added bonus being that the gift just reinforced to me what a special person my niece is.

There are a variety of goods that can be purchased at this site and that are coupled with a donation of up to 30%, so it might work for those folks who feel they need a tangible gift to give to friends or relatives.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:57 AM on December 27, 2006

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