It’s that time of year again, and I find myself in the midst of my annual “First World” challenge. Finding perfect gifts that are sure to surprise and delight is not easy when friends and family members already have more than they need. And I’ve become increasingly guilt-ridden about adding to the volume of “stuff” in our homes.
So I’ve begun to tap into a growing trend of charitable gift-giving, in lieu of traditional gifts. I first began this practice a few years ago, while struggling to find an affordable gift option for teachers. My child had suddenly gone from having one teacher to five in the fifth grade. Each of her teachers received an acknowledgement card for their “part-ownership” of a livestock animal we sponsored for a needy family through Heifer International.
Her teachers were intrigued and delighted, and my child received a nice life-lesson in the process.
And in what I still suspect was a brilliantly waged campaign to overcome my reluctance to buy yet another stuffed animal, my child asked to sponsor an endangered animal through the World Wildlife Fund a couple of years ago. She received a very cuddly baby jaguar in her stocking, and my guilt was assuaged.
Holiday charitable gifting is a growing trend. Nonprofits historically see a spike in year-end donations from deduction-seeking tax payers. But many have also realized the value of soliciting during the holidays, targeting shoppers who are looking for more meaningful gift-giving ideas.
A last-minute initiative launched as an alternative to Black Friday, dubbed Giving Tuesday (the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving), raised $10 million in donations for about 2,600 charities last year. This year, participation doubled, with 10,000 nonprofit organizations raising $21 million in one day.
And nonprofits aren’t the only ones getting into the act. The NY Daily News reports that Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s re-election campaign sent out an email last week encouraging supporters to give to the Walker re-election effort “instead of spending it on Christmas presents for their children.” Wow.
Regardless of your politics, charitable gifting is a sustainable alternative to the crazy commercialized excess that the holidays can bring. And it’s a great idea to give customers corporate holiday gifts that can actually support your sustainability story.