Holiday gift shopping can be challenging, especially when your recipients “already have everything,” or you don’t know them well enough to accurately gauge their interests (e.g., an obligatory gift swap), or you want a change from yet again giving more “stuff.” A great solution is to give the gift of giving: Provide your family and friends with an easy and fun way to support their favorite charities and change the world for the better. Here are some ideas:
Charity Gift Cards
This is a popular concept thanks to sites like CharityChoice and TisBest. You can buy gift cards online that your recipients can apply to charities of their choice from vetted lists provided by the sites. 100% of the face value of the cards goes to the charities, and 100% of the cards is tax deductible for the giver. It can’t get any easier. Philanthropists and celebrities such as Ray Dalio and Ashton Kutcher have embraced the idea; they team up to purchase charity gift cards for thousands of people to give them, as Dalio says, “a chance to experience firsthand the joy of giving and receiving a uniquely meaningful kind of gift.”
Make a Game of It
Who doesn’t love a game? For children and adults alike, initiate a “giving game” in which you gift a group of friends or family members a sum of money – actual or hypothetical. State the money is theirs to spend however they want, as long as it goes to help others and they can decide as a group which cause (or causes) to support.
Wealth psychology expert and Foundation Source client, Joel Treisman, recently did this. He gathered his kids and their friends over a holiday break and had everyone make a list of the charitable organizations they wanted to support. They each had to pitch the rest of the group on the importance of the cause. The name of each organization was put on an index card, spread out on the floor and each kid was given $100 in $1 bills and told to distribute their dollars. The activity encouraged the teens to advocate for their respective interests while opening their eyes to the concerns of their siblings and friends before making their final gifts.
Organize a Service Project
More often than not, friends or family may express interest in community service but never get around to actually doing it. So take charge and organize an outing for them (and you) to spend time together helping others. It could be a local Habitat for Humanity project, a weekly or monthly schedule of helping at a hospital, school or food pantry, a service trip to help rebuild a community after a natural disaster, or a pancake breakfast or walkathon to help raise money for a specific charitable cause. For families with foundations, arrange a trip to visit the charities you support to see firsthand how your resources are being allocated.
For inspiration, view this video of Kevin Kilroy who, at age 14, rallied her church congregation to support Wells Bring Hope, a nonprofit organization that drills wells to provide safe water and sanitation to Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. In just one weekend, Kevin raised enough funding to provide five villages in Niger with fresh water. Her efforts not only brought joy to the villagers but to her community as well. News of the project spread and soon local businesses and Kevin’s school joined in to raise additional funds.
There are lots of ways to find volunteer opportunities and service projects, try one of these sites for inspiration:
Host a Fundraiser
It’s a tried and true method – and a lot of fun. If you throw a great party, people will come – especially if a substantial portion of their admission fee will go to charity. Get creative with your planning; the more interesting the event, the bigger the crowd it’ll draw. Your guests will enjoy themselves and feel great about supporting a worthwhile cause, and your charity of choice will benefit from the collective generosity of you and your guests. What gift can be better than that?
As you plan your fundraiser, make it meaningful and informative about the cause you’re supporting. Invite a representative of the benefitting charity to speak with your guests or present a video about the charity’s work and impact. Even better, and if possible, invite recipients of the charity’s work to attend so your guests can meet them firsthand to better understand who they’re actually helping.
Start a Dialogue
Conversation starters about giving are great to include as well, perhaps as table favors or on signage at the event, to engage your guests in meaningful discussions. Consider these example questions from Inheriting Wisdom:
- If you donated money for a building, would you want your name on it?
- Have you ever done a good deed anonymously? Why?
- A scholarship in your honor would be created in what field?
- Which philanthropic cause would get your family’s support across generations?
- At what age did giving to others have meaning for you?
So for this holiday season and beyond, give the gift of giving. The rewards will be exponential as your gift will brighten your recipient’s day and eventually that of a charity and those it serves.