Give the Gift of Service This Year

My dad used to joke, “What do you give the person who has everything?”


These days, we have so much ‘stuff’ nearly everyone seems like the person who has everything. And all that ‘stuff’ is an endless cycle of needing a place to put it, batteries to power it, someone to fix it, and ultimately having it crowd our landfills, because we never used it anyway.

Before you start your holiday shopping this year, take a look at each name on your gift list and ask yourself…

What does he or she really care about?

Maybe he really wants or needs another gadget.  If that’s the case, by all means… get him what he wants!  Nothing’s worse than a green gift the recipient didn’t want.

But maybe you remember he has a soft spot for animals.  Wouldn’t he be surprised and touched to hear you funded a pet adoption in his name?  When you dig a little deeper to find a cause that’s close to his heart, it gives you the chance to leave a lasting impact on so much more than just that one person.

Giving the Perfect Cause Gift or Gift of Service

The key to giving a great donation gift is to choose something your recipient cares about… not you.  While one of my favorite causes is the environment, not everyone on my list wants a tree planted in his or her name.  Each person has their own thing.  Take the time to figure out what it is, and your gift is sure to be a hit.

If you need a little help coming up with ideas, here are some of our favorite holiday gifts that make a difference.

It’s Veteran’s Day, so I’m thinking about a friend whose favorite cause is supporting female veterans.  Grace After Fire provides resources for the unique challenges women veterans face when they return home from service.

The Seva Foundation makes it easier than ever to give a gift of service.  For just $50, your friend or family member will receive a beautiful card letting them know the gift of sight was given to a blind person, in their name.

If you’d rather watch your recipient open a present instead of a donation card, Fair Trade gifts will fit the bill.  The Fair Trade Certification lets you know that the person who made this item for you was paid fairly and is allowed to work in decent conditions.  Many Fair Trade items are made from sustainable or recycled materials, so we can know there was very little impact on their native land to bring these items to us.

Many other gift items also provide something for your recipient to open while benefiting a worthwhile cause.  A friend sent me a bracelet that supports the United Nation’s Girl Up Campaign to educate and empower the world’s hardest to reach girls.

Half of the profits from Gap’s RED Program go to the global fund to fight AIDS.

For hundreds of cause or service gift ideas, check Changing the Present.

What about kids?

You may think your kids would never forego a present, but they just might surprise you.  Make it fun by getting them involved.  Instead of a gift swap at school, the class could take up a collection and donate…

·      Money or supplies to the local animal shelter

·      Gifts or money to less fortunate children

·      Sports equipment to inner city youth sports teams

·      Time or money to terminally ill children

Most parents will gladly help out, knowing their child won’t be bringing another cheap toy home from the holiday party.  Kids are generous by nature.  As parents, let’s encourage that and instill the value of giving back.  Don’t make them wait until adulthood to figure out ‘things’ don’t equal happiness.

Have a favorite cause you love to support?  Share it with us in the comments below.

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