Saturday, December 5, 2009

Twice as nice: Gifts that benefit nonprofits

Image representing GlobalGiving as depicted in...Image via CrunchBase

 With all the hoopla about "going green" why not focus your Christmas buying this year on a more PC type of gifting.  Why not give a gift that also gives to a charity or non-profit a portion of the money.  In that way, both you, the buyer, and the recipient will feel good about the gift.

It's a win-win situation all the way around and you will be helping out charities that may be really struggling to make ends meet in this recession.  Merry Christmas!

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ggarvin@MiamHerald.com

It's the central contradiction of the holidays: saving the world vs. looting the malls.
The second half of the equation is powerful even to the most humanitarian-minded of us, which is why you're reading a holiday gift guide right now instead of a book by Gandhi or St. Thomas Aquinas.
But these days it's not necessarily an either-or proposition: There are a growing number of gifts that multi-task, serving avarice and humanity at the same time. As Greyston Bakery's Joanne Jordan says of her company's Do-Goodie Brownies: ``With the purchase of one brownie, you can not only gratify a chocoholic who you love, but help out people who really need it, all for one low price.''

In the case of Do-Goodie Brownies, the price really is low: $2.49, with profits going to a foundation that supports job training, healthcare, housing and childcare for the poor.
If Mr. Scrooge had had options like this, those ghosts could have spent Christmas Eve snug in their coffins.
• The most versatile option is an online marketplace called GoodShop.com, which has partnered with more than 80,000 nonprofits in a program that kicks back a percentage of gift prices to the charity or cause of your choice. Buy a $60 electric football game from Back to Basic Toys and 4 percent of the price goes to your chosen nonprofit.
• Adding a charitable dimension to holiday-gift-giving can be politically tricky. Even if Aunt Agatha secretly wants to projectile-vomit at the sight of a chartreuse sweater you misguidedly gave her, she'll probably just smile and say thanks. But if she's an NRA member and finds out part of the sweater's price went to Handgun Control, your eggnog party could get a little loud. Avoid controversy with a gift card from GlobalGiving.com.
Available in denominations from $10 up to the amount of the Powerball jackpot you hit last night and don't know what to do with, GlobalGiving's card allows the recipient to direct their donation to any of hundreds of causes of every ideological stripe, from relief projects for the victims of Russian intervention in Georgia to the prevention of gender violence in Kenya.
• Another way to avoid controversy is to choose a gift that helps fight a disease -- as politically polarized as America is, almost nobody favors diseases. And it's harder to imagine an illness that everybody wants to get rid of more than cancer. The insurance company AFLAC sells a plush stuffed-toy version of its duck mascot (a small one for $10, large for $15) at Macy's and aflacholidayduck.com; 100 percent of the price goes to pediatric cancer hospitals, including the Miami Children's Hospital.
• Fashion designer and cancer survivor Sheridan Savio has created a line of clips -- hair bands, pony-tail holders, even little pacifier clips bearing a smiling angel -- that sell for $7-$24, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society (clips4acure.com).
• The Alzheimer's Foundation of America has a line of sterling silver jewelry -- necklaces, bracelets and stickpins, all for $30 and all including the organization's hands-and-heart logo that honors Alzheimer's caregivers (alzfdn.org).
• The Diabetes Research Institute (diabetesresearch.org) is trying to pun its way to a cure with $10 ``I'm Tired Of Diabetes'' bracelets made from old auto tires.
• For $40, you can adopt an endangered whale from the Oceanic Society, complete with a certificate and photo. If a whale won't fit under your tree, go with a dolphin for the same price (oceanicsociety.org).
• The $20 teddy bears on sale at the Ritz Carlton in Coconut Grove benefit Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (Our Little Brothers and Sisters), a charity with orphanages in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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