Alternative giving is catching on. With frustration over the increasing commercialization of the holidays, the public is looking for alternatives to “shop-to-you-drop” consumerism in an attempt to get back to the true spirit of giving. So I’m continuing my annual round up of alternative giving that I started last year. Whether you tire of buying gifts you can’t afford; you prefer to make a socially-conscious statement; or you wish to donate to those truly in need, I’m sure you’ll find a worthy cause to contribute to below.
- Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in more than 60 countries around the world. They have also been on the forefront of assisting with the Ebola crisis in Africa.
- Heifer International provides livestock and training to people in developing communities so that they can feed themselves. They have a special gift-giving brochure to help gift-givers with ideas during the holiday season.
- Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.
- Outreach International has an online catalog of sustainable gifts in a variety of categories and price points to satisfy the fashion-conscious as well as the socially-conscious. The organization’s mission is to provide sustainable solutions to help end extreme poverty around the world.
In addition to the international agencies mentioned above, there are also a number of local causes worth giving to – either for yourself or on behalf of others as a gift:
- Central Union Mission provides food, clothing and shelter to the homeless in the DC area.
- The House of Ruth helps women, children and families in greatest need with an emphasis on ending homelessness and chronic abuse.
- Food and Friends provides meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with life-challenging illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. They also have pies you can purchase for the holidays; the proceeds go to advancing their mission.
- By acquiring food and distributing it through its network of partner agencies , the Capital Area Food Bank feeds those who suffer from hunger in the Washington metro through its network of partner agencies; and educating, empowering and enlightening the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition.
This list is not exhaustive. If you are so-inclined to give gifts with a purpose, there are plenty of causes to donate to — on behalf of loved ones, or in lieu of buying gifts for someone that she really doesn’t need. If you’re participating in alternative giving during the holidays, I’d love to hear from you. Please share what you’re doing below.