15 November 2007

Give a Gift of Giving this Christmas

Deciding what to give a child at Christmas time can be a daunting exercise – the variety of choices is overwhelming. It becomes an issue of what to give them that they will enjoy past the excitement of tearing open the paper and breaking the seal on the box.

Even more challenging is deciding what to give the older folk, but for a completely opposite reason.

What do you give someone who has everything? I’ll bet you Aunt Sophie still has the handkerchiefs / au de toilet / chocolates you gave her last year, stashed at the back of a drawer somewhere and she doesn’t even remember where she put them.

Dad probably has a collection of golf balls that if let loose, could cause an avalanche of note. He’s probably got enough socks to last him to his grave and he actually doesn’t drink whiskey! (Those bottles from last year and the years before are gathering dust on a shelf somewhere waiting for Uncle George to visit again.)

Mom’s on diet, so chocolates won’t do. She’s also got enough handbags, scarves and smelly stuff to last a lifetime. She’s got more vases and picture frames than she can fill and anything bigger just won’t fit into the small apartment anymore.

There is a solution to the potential gift-giving problem…

Let’s consider for a minute those who aren’t getting anything for Christmas this year. In fact, it’s not only Christmas they’re concerned about – these people struggle to feed and clothe themselves all year round.

Fortunately for them, there are organizations of people who make it their life’s goal to take care of the less privileged and improve their lives in various ways. Most of these organizations rely on charity. What better time to benefit from donations than at the greatest time of giving in the year?

So, instead of all the (pardon me) ‘useless’ and most probably somewhat unappreciated gifts you’ll be spending your money on this year, why not put it to good use and purchase a donation to a worthwhile charity on behalf of someone else?

By the way, dad, mom and Aunt Sophie aren’t the only ones who could benefit from this generous gift-giving scenario. What about your clients? Every year we are faced with huge outlays for ‘gender-less’, generic gifts to show our appreciation for their business over the past 12 months. Now I’m not denying we appreciate their business, but how much do they really appreciate our year-end gifts? Our outlay would be far more beneficial as a bulk contribution to a worthy charity on behalf of our clients. We then send each client a small card stating what we have done on their behalf, and depending on the charity we’ve donated to, they may even receive a personalized letter of thanks from that organization.

Then there’s your children’s teachers. Think about it. Each teacher has their own family and friends from whom they will no doubt receive gifts. Add to that the multitude of gifts from students and, well… (I’ve seen many carting home boot loads at Christmas break, resembling one of Santa’s helpers!)

I’m sure you can think of more people in your own circle who could benefit from this gift giving idea.

Are you convinced? Great! So here’s the Nitty Gritty…


A good place to start is with the person you are donating on behalf of. Do they have a favorite charity? What are their interests? As you would browse the shops for a ‘suitable gift’, likewise, select a charity that can ‘press an emotional button’ for them. Alternatively, are there any charity organizations near to where they stay – within their own community?

If you’re giving on behalf of a group of people, I would suggest a more ‘global’ charity. At this time of year most people focus on the children’s charities. However, don’t forget the poor communities, the aged and the animals – they also need your help.


To find a charity is very easy. Simply do a search for ‘charity organization’ plus your area, or search for the type of charity organization you have in mind (aged, children, animals, etc.) and see how many come up. You’ll be spoilt for choice.

Alternatively, www.universalgiving.org is a great place to donate because they promote charities world-wide and give 100% of your donation to your selected project. Many of the projects listed there have lasting effects as they work to empower people (a concept close to my heart). They also have the facility for you to send gift cards on behalf of someone - just as I’ve mentioned above. You won’t even need to do that yourself!


What to donate is pretty self-explanatory. Money of course can be used by the receiving organization as they see fit. However, there are organizations that require specific items and in most of these cases it’s easy to find out from them what’s on their ‘wish list’. In this case you could purchase the item on behalf of the person you’re donating from.

How Much?

The amount you donate is entirely up to you. If it’s your $10 pocket money, or your $10,000 corporate gift spend, anything is welcome and you know it will be put to good use. (For example, did you know that as little as $10 can start someone up in business and just $37 will provide food, shelter and education for an orphan for a whole month? Wow.)

In Conclusion

The strange thing about this ‘gift of giving’ concept is that the number of beneficiaries multiplies. Let’s consider Aunt Sophie as an example:

  • Your ‘what to give her’ problem has been solved. AND you’ve saved a huge amount of time searching for the ‘perfect’ gift.
  • You’re giving twice – to the charity organization AND to Aunt Sophie.
  • Aunt Sophie doesn’t have to pretend to be grateful and then go looking for that drawer that she stashes her unopened presies in!
  • Aunt Sophie feels great because she’s ‘given’ to a worthy cause and knows at least one more child in the world is able to go to school next year.
  • And then, there’s the charity organization themselves. They will probably be the most elated and grateful between the three of you!

So, before you become all flustered at those names on your Christmas gift shopping list, why not take out your credit card and hit the ‘donate to charity’ button?

You won’t regret the investment.

This article (c) Colleen Wilkinson, lifeisabuffet.co.za

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