Every year, it seems that more and more of our family members and friends are embracing non-material gifts that are both thoughtful and green. Among these are gifts for good causes – things like meals for the elderly, gardens for schoolchildren, and water purifiers for underdeveloped communities. Are you looking to do the same? Here are 10 ways to make a difference this holiday…
1 Farm Aid – Although Farm Aid is best known for its concerts, the organization also helps farm families in crisis, advocates for fair farm policies, and works to get family farm food in grocery stores, restaurants, and other institutions.
2 Feeding America – According to Feeding America (formerly known as America's Second Harvest), every dollar donated helps provide 9 pounds of food and grocery products to the nation's food banks.
3 Kiva – Kiva's microloan program connects lenders with low income entrepreneurs. Purchase a gift certificate or search for food-related businesses in the food and agriculture categories. (Image: John Briggs)
4 Meals on Wheels Association of America – Donations to MOWAA help provide meals to the elderly, homebound, disabled, frail, or at risk.
5 MercyCorps – MercyCorps offers gifts in the form of symbolic "kits," which range from emergency food to beekeeping supplies, family gardens, and fuel-efficient stoves.
6 National Gardening Association – NGA's Adopt a Garden program provides schools with the funding to begin or enhance their youth garden programs.
7 Oxfam America Unwrapped – Through Oxfam's catalog, shoppers can buy symbolic gifts such as vegetable gardens, water purifiers, and cooking stoves.
8 Share Our Strength – Donations to Share Our Strength help provide meals for hungry children in the United States. The organization also receives a percentage from magazines and food items purchased through its site.
9 UNICEF Inspired Gifts – UNICEF's Inspired Gifts program gives people the opportunity to purchase real items, including water kits, foods for malnourished children, and other critical supplies.
10 Changing the Present – This site makes it easy to browse and purchase gifts from many different nonprofits in categories including basic needs, community, environment, and health.
Be sure to check out last year's Un-Gift Guide 2008: Gifts for Good Causes and Give the Gift of Food and Water: Heifer International and Charity:Water for more suggestions.
In addition, we recommend using Charity Navigator to evaluate charities before you give.
Do you have any other good causes to recommend?