December 22, 2009

My Top Picks for Holiday Gifts (That Give Back!).

As aware as I am of our disgusting, over-consumption, insatiable consumer driven world, I just can’t help but want to give gifts to friends and family.  My only hope for everyone including myself, is to feel good about gift-giving. Ideally give gifts that can benefit those who really deserve it.

That said, I bring you my favorite gift picks for this year:

1. Charity Gift Cards

Although giving to charity is not a new concept—think Salvation Army bell ringers outside the grocery store (which now accepts Credit Cards, ha!)— it has become a new trend that has caught on and gives back.

TisBest requests you to Give a Better World. This charity gift card can be purchased on the website, but rather than buying stuff in a store, the recipient of a TisBest card spends it by choosing among the 300 charities featured on the TisBest website and is given a chance to change the world just a little bit in a way that’s important to them. It makes for a less wasteful, more meaningful gift. Charity gift cards were a solution to the gift-giving dilemma—an easy way to give a deeply meaningful gift for both the giver and recipient. TisBest Charity Gift Cards—100% environmentally friendly, printed on 100% recycled plastic— allow for people who care to put gift-giving dollars toward creating a better world.

It is meant to address a yearning for more socially conscious giving and receiving. The funds on the card go to a charity of the recipient’s choice.

This year’s featured charity Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe.

Operation Smile also conducts international training programs which empower their partner countries to treat more children on their own. They support medical diplomacy and research to find the root cause of clefting.

Donors Choose is another organization embracing this concept. With a Donor’s Choose gift card, the recipient chooses to fund one of hundreds of school projects, ranging from local to global on a subject you care about. This gift gives a chance to shape and improve future-citizens in a way that they deem important!

Kiva, gives the gift of funding a microloan—a small loan (often a few hundred dollars) that allows an entrepreneur to start or grow a business—in a developing country. Kiva offers a plethora of choices, ranging from farming to blanket manufacturing to small retail stores. More than 95% of the loans are repaid, and the repaid funds can be applied to fund another microloan that allows another entrepreneur to work their way out of the cycle of poverty.

2. Purchase of Gift Gives to Non-Profit

Educate!—a Colorado based org that aims to educate and empower the next generation of socially responsible leaders in Africa—presents the “Empower” Jewelry Line. The proceeds from the line, comprised of the “Illuminate” necklace ($30) and “Celebrate” bracelet ($25), go directly to Educate! to empower students in Uganda. The line symbolizes the role Educate! has played in the students’ lives and celebrates the Educate! Experience, a unique two-year leadership program that drives social, political, and economic development in the students’ communities.

Educate! Intro from Educate! on Vimeo.

3. Support Local Businesses

Love it.

Every city or town has many great artists, so go out and find them!  If you’re too shy for that, my favorite go-to for handmade, unique, one-of-a-kind gifts (for myself or others) is etsy!

4. Support Media

NPR—Who doesn’t love free, public radio? Give NPR a place, and support intelligent, accessible content before it gets (completely) buried under Podcasts and T.V.

Old/new Media needs your support! Have a fave mag or blog that you just love and realize you can’t live without?  Let ’em know.

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Lindsey Block  |  Contribution: 50,495