Donations Instead Of Gifts: 12 Charities To Help This Holiday

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A woman unpacking fresh radishes and other fresh produce placed on tables at a church sponsored community food drive outdoors on the sidewalk to be offered for free to the public- Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NYC August 23, 2015

Consider asking for donations to these charities instead of another gift you don’t need. These organizations need your help now more than ever.

Listen, we’ve all got enough stuff. Unless you’re just starting out in your first apartment or are recovering from a major life catastrophe, chances are you – a mildly responsible adult human being – probably don’t need whatever’s on your list. I’m not trying to shame you from a treat every once in awhile. And, honestly, if your grandparents or parents or whomever is dead-set on getting you a physical object, then it’s going to happen.

But what if you want to take this year’s gift-giving rigamarole and turn it on its head? Moreover, why not do a little good in the process? If you really and truly don’t need anything, then consider asking for charitable donations instead of gifts.

Thanks to the specter of our looming new presidential administration, many people feel frightened, if not entirely helpless. While there’s certainly much you can do in terms of volunteering, speaking up, and just generally trying your hardest to be a decent human being, donations help, too. Many of the organizations listed here would be dead in the water if it weren’t for the financial support of ordinary citizens.

Some etiquette enthusiasts might not be one hundred percent on board with this. Culturally, we’ve got a whole truckload of weirdness with gift giving in the first place. Who gets what? How much should you pay? What sort of crazy unspoken social contract have I entered into now that my boss gave me a mug for the holidays? Add to that the political implications of some of these charities, and Miss Manners might try to (politely) rap you on the knuckles with an etiquette book.

My personal take on all that? It’s (kind of) baloney. Sure, think carefully about who’s doing the gift giving and what their reactions might be. Don’t bully anyone into it, of course. Accept the inevitable rogue gift of a casserole dish or book with a smile and a “thank you”.

But, if you’re positively swimming in junk and someone has already asked for your wish list, there’s little harm in asking for charitable donations. Read on for some suggestions focusing on different causes. For more information on financials and organization within a particular charity, as  well as an overall score, check out Charity Navigator.