Gifting Outside The Box

Do I already have plenty of stuff? Yes. Do I care deeply about a cause and want to make a difference? Yes. Am I looking forward to opening brightly colored boxes with my name on them? Absolutely.

This year, since money is tight – I’m approaching the holidays in a different way. Many of my friends and family members like opening tangible gifts so I’m putting together “packages” they’ll enjoy and including charity too!


Charitable gifts don’t have to be all or nothing.

I care about making charitable giving a part of everyday life. (That’s why I choose to work at JustGive.) During the holidays, I know people want to wrap (and unwrap) presents. And I know we really want to give gifts that make our recipients’ faces light up.

Whether we participate or not, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 24 hour deals, and last minute doorbusters are here to stay — through financial highs and lows. And I appreciate good deals just as much as the next person. But I also think there are clever ways to embrace both ways of giving, with gift thoughtful, personal gift packages. Giving smiles and making the world better at the same time:

– Have a foodie friend? A box of gourmet treats, or dinner at a new restaurant is made meaningful when paired with a donation to the recipient’s local food bank (find local charities here).

– Shopping for the handyman in the family? When you wrap up the power tools and fix-it gadgets, include a donation to Habitat for Humanity.

– If you buy a Christmas tree this year, consider giving to the Arbor Day Foundation. $10 is all it takes to plant 10 trees in a National forest.

– Pay it forward and donate some the money you saved shopping for the best deals. Buy a GiveNow Charity Gift Card and your recipient can easily choose from more than 1.8 million charities to support their favorite cause. For as little as $15*, you can give a great stocking stuffer, hostess or teacher gift that makes a big impact.


Do you plan on giving to charity in combination with a traditional gift?

We’d love to hear about it! Share your ideas with us on Facebook or Twitter.



* GiveNow charity gift cards never expire and are available in any quantity. Minimum fees apply.

Rethinking holiday gifts

Tonight, I’ll tell my one-month-old baby that I’m giving him a baseball stadium for Christmas. I figured this out at 3:30 in the morning when his cries made me appreciate the small conveniences of life. Take our bottle warmer: The process to heat a baby’s bottle is not really difficult, but in the early hours of sleepless nights, a bottle warmer can give a new father some semblance of ease.

Convenience is something we often take for granted: easy access to food, shelter, and, at this time of year, presents. I recently saw a commercial for Burger King, touting its “Dollar Holidays” card promotion–sending a holiday gift card containing a dollar bill to “casual friends.” According to BrandWeek, more than 8,000 of these gift cards were sold on the program’s first day alone. There’s something in the magnitude of that number that disturbs me. Perhaps it’s the new baby making me ask questions, but is this really what the season of giving has become?

Don’t get me wrong. I like presents. I like giving. I like getting. Some of my fondest memories are of avoiding creaking floorboards on Christmas morning to see our tree lit up, presents arranged underneath, the cookies and milk left for Santa Claus gone. When it comes to Christmas presents this year, Gallup’s first look at 2009 spending found that Americans plan to spend an average of $740 on gifts this year. That’s starkly down from two years ago – and 65 percent of Americans return holiday gifts every holiday season. We are a country that likes to give and get, and return.

Starting a giving tradition that generates many happy returns . . .

As a recent addition to the JustGive family, I’ve decided to start a new tradition this year and give a gift that that keeps on giving: A donation to a cause I believe in.

Imagine if the 8,000 people who jumped at the chance to give their friends a BK cheeseburger did the same and gave to the Capital Area Food Bank For that same $1, the food bank can provide three meals to someone in need. But what personally interests me is the Capital Area Food Bank is leading the DC-area Farms to School movement: remaking school lunches into nutritious and delicious meals while supporting local farmers. In a culture beset with Dollar Holidays, that’s something a whole lot better I’d choose to support.

Convenient, meaningful gifts

JustGive makes it easy to give back – the type of convenience I appreciate. Three thoughtful e-gifts they offer can make a difference, starting with as little as $10:

    • Donate to charity in your friend, family member or colleague’s name.

      Make the gift personal and donate online, in a few short minutes. You don’t even need to know the name of a charity. Use convenient search tools to quickly find one that supports the cause your recipient cares about.

          This holiday season, you can select from a wider variety of charity gift cards. More than 12 available images make it easy to find one that expresses your sentiment best. Designed for every need, the cards fit Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years, and represent many charitable causes, including education, children, and peace on Earth.  It’s the perfect gift of choice for your recipient, who redeems the card to support their favorite charity.

          A few of the gift card images available

            • Give a Gift Collection—A “gift basket” of four charities supporting a specific cause.

              A dozen already-packaged gift collections focus on feeding the hungry, creating homes and jobs, mentoring children, protecting animals, respecting elders, planting trees, saving the earth, promoting human rights, pursuing peace . . . and more. Gift Collections start at $40 and are available for any amount.

              My choice

              A small donation to a grassroots organization like City Green, an organization that promotes environmental equality through inner city gardens and education, can make a big impact in the life of a community. City Green supports the Cougars Go Green student club, which is now in its second year. These young students – with the help of donors such as my family – are working to restore the crumbling Hinchcliffe Stadium in their backyard to the thriving city asset it once was when the New York Black Yankees played the Philadelphia Stars in 1933.

              That means that tonight, during my next 3:30 a.m. feeding, I’ll have more than a warm bottle to give my son. I’ll be able to share the joy of giving back.

              Now there’s an idea to share with your friends!

              – Grant La Rouche

              Rushing to find a perfect last minute gift?

              JustGive has plenty of meaningful gifts that are perfect choices for every last person on your list . . . even on a tight budget! No need to run to the drugstore for a bland box of chocolates or a “seen on TV” gadget. With JustGive, there’s a quick, easy and affordable way to finish your last minute shopping and give gifts that mean so much more—for your recipient and for the world.

              Need a last minute gift for a difficult-to-buy-for family member or friend?

              For as little as $10, you can make a donation in their name to a charity that supports a cause they care about most. Is he or she concerned about:

              · Education? A $25 gift to First Book puts 10 books in the hands of first-time readers, introducing children to the joy of reading.

              · Poverty and Hunger? For every dollar donated to Feeding America, a hungry family receives 20 pounds of food.

              · Homelessness? A $50 gift to Habitat for Humanity buys supplies to build new homes.

              If you’re stumped for the name of a charity, use the JustGive Guide to help you find what you need. Search the 19 categories of 1,000 charities to narrow your search quickly. Or find local charities with a zip code in an Acting Locally search. Or simply type a cause or charity name into Advanced Search for a world of charitable options.

              We’ll send a gift notification with your personal message through email to your recipient, or you can print it to include in your holiday card.

              Need a hostess gift at the last minute for a holiday party?

              Bring a unique and personal gift that gives twice. A GiveNow card allows your host to give to cause that is meaningful to them—choosing from nearly 1.5 million charities working locally and throughout the world. Send a GiveNow card online to arrive the same day, or print it from home just before you go and include it in your card.

              Need a “Secret Santa” gift idea for your eco-friendly co-worker?

              Avoid the plastic wrapping and other wasted resources. Donate on their behalf to American Forests: a $10 donation plants 10 trees. Or give a Gift Collection that will help four charities dedicated to protecting the environment. Make a donation in their name and you can email or print out their gift notice that day.

              Even at the last minute, you can give hope and help to those in need for as little as $10. No stress. No travel. No shipping. For a very Happy Holiday to all!

              Tell a friend where to get a great last minute gift!

              Celebrate the spirit of the season

              The Holidays are here!

              The holiday season bring the challenge of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list.  We’ve all known the stress of running around the mall with crowded stores and empty shelves. We buy scented candles, and power tools, and this year’s latest toy, wondering if it really expresses what we want to say.

              What if you could easily find a gift that perfectly reflected your friends’ and family members’ passions and helped make the world a better place?

              Now you can: Redefine Christmas!

              Redefine Christmas is a simple idea with an amazing impact.  What if we replace just a few of the less meaningful gifts we give with donations to charities?  The effect would be extraordinary.

              JustGive makes it easy to celebrate the spirit of the season

              Create a new holiday tradition among friends and family this year. Instead of another meaningless stocking stuffer or trinket for the office party, you can give hope to those in need for as little as $10.

              • GiveNow cards Instead of a Gift Card from the mall, how about a Gift Card for the world? Choose from several festive e-card designs featuring Christmas and Chanukah. Or select a traditional card that can be mailed to your recipient. GiveNow cards include your personal message and can be redeemed for any of nearly 1.5 charities working throughout the world.
              • Gift Donations Do you know someone who volunteers for or regularly contributes to a specific charity? Make a donation through JustGive, and we will send them an email with your personal message saying a donation was made in their honor and name. Have a loved one that doesn’t have email? That’s okay, you can print their gift message and give it to them.
              • Gift Collections Is your aunt passionate about environmental causes, while your dad leans toward hunger issues? Does your officemate love children? A Gift Collection (“basket”) of four charities is a perfect way to introduce them to more charities that work in the areas they care about most.
              • Gift Registries Give the gift of charity to those you love and ask them to do the same for you. Gift Registries list your favorite charities, and can be personalized with a picture and special message.

              Redefine what this holiday means to you. Practice compassion and care with your gifts of charity—putting the giving spirit into meaningful action this holiday.

              Want to spread the word and Redefine Christmas? Tell a friend.

              Philanthropy for a new generation

              In the wake of National Philanthropy Day, and with the holidays right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to inspire the giving spirit in a new generation. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” Being involved in your community is a powerful way to teach children about caring for others, and finding their own passion for giving.

              Need some ideas?

              Learning To Give understands the importance of teaching philanthropy to new generations. They offer over 1,200 K-12 lessons and educational resources for teachers, parents, youth workers, religious instructors, and community leaders free of charge. Lessons focus on educating youth about the importance of philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and civic engagement.

              Technology raises awareness and makes giving easier.

              New research and nonprofit experts credit technology with the rising trend in philanthropy among the nation’s youth. “Technology is democratizing philanthropy so giving is not only easier for people of all ages and means, but also trendier. And children are starting to organize at the grass-roots level to give” says Phillip Rucker, a staff writer for the Washington Post. Adds Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, “The next step is to help kids move from that awareness to action.”

              Young people as agents of change

              With a passionately active and philanthropic new generation, it’s no surprise young adults are inspired to get involved beyond the usual annual donation. JustGive is proud to feature stories about how Jean and Brandon, as children, thought about giving and made a difference for years to come:

              Jean Beale, at age 7 – “When I was a baby, my mom and dad would push me in a baby jogger. We would pick up soda cans while my mom and dad ran. We store the cans until we get a lot of them, then we take them on our friend’s big truck to the recycling place. One time, I sold 410 pounds at once. I help the world by making the roads, the lakes, and the trails prettier, and because all my cans are recycled.”

              Brandon Keefe, at age 8 – One afternoon at a parent-teacher meeting to discuss the building of a library for a children’s home, Brandon heard how difficult it was to get books and thought “everybody had books on their shelves that they’d outgrown, why not give the ones we’ve already read to kids who need them?” What began in 1998 as a community service project for his class is now the grassroots nonprofit organization BookEnds. To date, over 170,000 student volunteers have filled 499 barren libraries throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, delivering more than 1.4 million books into the hands of over 401,000 at-rish students.

              Want to spread the word? Tell a friend.

              Home for the Holidays

              Thankfully most of us will never know what it’s like to spend a night in our car, find shelter in a park, or not know where we will get our next meal. We identify homelessness with strangers—the man on the street corner asking for change, or the mom and child trying to find shelter to escape violence.

              With home foreclosures at a record high, it’s no surprise nonprofits are expecting longer lines for their shelters this winter. Nighttime temperatures are dropping below freezing throughout the country right now, and obtaining a dry, warm place to sleep is necessary for survival.

              In 2007, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimated 3.5 million people—1.35 million of them children—are likely to experience homelessness in a given year. According to Housing and Urban Development, last year, 1 in every 200 people spent at least one night in a homeless facility. The San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition (a branch of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition) estimates there are currently 35,000 homeless in the Bay Area: thirty percent are families with children, and more than half sleep on the streets at night.

              Overwhelmed? JustGive makes it easy to give a little and make a big difference.

              The problem of homelessness can seem too big, too far from our homes. So how can you personally make a difference? By donating as little as $10, you provide a safe place to stay, a warm meal for empty stomachs, and dignity and hope for a better future.

              Here are several charities in my backyard that are helping the homeless:

              · San Francisco Interfaith Council is a network of faith-based organizations “committed to the principles of human dignity.” For the past 19 years, the council has provided shelter and hot meals for the homeless in San Francisco. This year, cold weather shelters will be open from November 23 through February 28.

              · The Oakland Army Base provides temporary winter shelter and hot meals for homeless in Alameda County from November through March. The Oakland Army Base Workforce Development Collaborative supplies housing, food, employment, and healthcare to low income residents and the homeless year-round.

              · Glide provides three hot meals to the city’s hungry everyday—750,000 meals per year. For some who come to eat, Glide may be the only safe and welcoming environment they experience in a day’s time. In a recent interview for the San Francisco Chronicle, nonprofit leaders state that drastic increases in the need for food and shelter, combined with cuts in funding, are creating “a crisis in the emergency homeless services system.”

              How can I help my local charity provide shelter from the cold and a hot meal to families in need this winter?

              Search JustGive’s database of nearly 1.5 million charities and find shelters in your city or zip code that would benefit from your donation. Donate to a local charity you know and make a difference for those who otherwise would go without a roof over their heads and food.

              Bringing it Home

              Know someone having a house warming party? Going home for the Thanksgiving and don’t know what to bring? Make a donation in a friend or family member’s name to an organization that provides help and hope for those without homes. Don’t know what charity to choose? Buy a GiveNow Card and let them select from nearly 1.5 million organizations that make a difference.

              Want to spread the word? Tell a friend.