Thanks and Thankful Giving: Or Mindful Capitalism

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the annual charitable giving list for 2008! These are just some of the ways you can give back while indulging in the mass-consumer, gift orgy of the December holidays.

I don’t get anything for posting this but a smile.

There’s a lot on the list that hasn’t changed from last year but I’ve done my best to offer new and relevant options and remove that which is no longer useful.

I’m only human and this list is probably only a fraction of what is possible. If you have any suggestions, be sure to leave ‘em in the comments to share with everyone.

[Important note: Charity Watch and Charity Navigator are great resources for checking out charitable orgs.]

Local Charities:

We have some great local organizations who do important work year-round. Foreclosures, lay-offs and cut-backs to state and local budgets for many of our safety-net programs have left too many locals in desperate need. Unfortunately, this has put an added strain on many of our local organizations who are scrambling to help more people with less donations. Remember: You can always give a donation of time, money or goods in honor of a gift recipient.

  • This year for me, the bare-minimum is donating some food to local pantries. Donations are down but the number of hungry folks is way up. For just a couple dollars you can buy someone a hot Thanksgiving dinner at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. Or you can bag up some non-perishable food and give it to the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities, among others.
  • Another great idea is to check out the Wish Lists of local orgs. I like Safe Nest, SAFE HouseHACA, The Rape Crisis Center. Sometimes the simplest items — toothpaste, baby blankets or office furniture — can help these organizations help so many.
  • Miracle Flights for Kids is based here but helps children all over the country get to medical care they need.
  • And here is my shameless plug for the Nevada Women’s Lobby (of which I am a steering committee member). This is a 20-year-old, all-volunteer organization whose purpose is to make Nevada a better place, in particular for women and children. The state legislature will be having a special session in a couple weeks and then the regular session will start soon after the New Year. We need change in Nevada. Simply put, your money helps us do that important work. But there are other ways to help, too. Testify. Volunteer. Get involved.

Charity Malls:

  • Justgive is a great site! It has links to gift and donation options for several charities benefiting children, the homeless, people with AIDS and cancer, the environment and animals. I particularly like their recommendations for sites with holiday cards and on another page they have a link to use if you are shopping on Amazon.com, which will automatically give to charities supported by Justgive.org. They also have links to charity malls and charity auctions. Sweet!
  • A great charity mall site is Igive.com. If you start your shopping there and select participating stores (many of them like locally owned Femail Creations support small, women-owned businesses) then a certain percentage of your purchase is automatically credited to a charity or cause of your choice. (No extra charge to you.) Awesome! I have been using this site for years (to benefit Henderson’s SAFE House). And it works all year long! And through the sites “mall” I found one of my fav stores, Uncommon Goods, which has some unique stuff, including a lot of recycled art and jewelry.
  • Another charity mall site is Greatergood.com. They support a few different charitable causes including helping the rain forest, fighting breast cancer, promoting child health and literacy.
  • Similarly, check out Goodshop.com.
  • World of Good supports arts cooperatives.
  • Global Exchange specializes in fair-trade items made from recycled materials with a focus on benefiting human rights.
  • eConscious Market features socially responsible goods from progressive, ecologically minded companies. The site gives 50 percent of net profits from each purchase to the charity of your choice.

Individual Causes:

  • Equality: I believe that hate and intolerance are the root that manifests in different forms such as racism, homophobia and sexism. To me, hate is hate no matter what label you put on it. So here are my favorite equality causes to support — NOW (National Organization for Women), HRC (Human Rights Campaign), and NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) for starters. I also like business and organizations that promote anti-hate ethics like Asian Man Records.
  • Rights: I don’t think you need me to explain why this is important. ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, No on Prop 8.
  • Sexual Assault: Nationally there is the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (aka RAINN). It’s a tough cause because no one likes to think about rape and incest. I highly recommend their gift options. (Locally there’s the Rape Crisis Center.)
  • Cancer: There are a loooot of sites catering to all forms of cancer. There is no way I could list them all here. Because this year I lost two loved ones to (rare forms of) cancer, pancreatic and mesothelioma, I’m putting those on the list. I have great empathy and compassion for anyone battling this disease and their support network. I don’t mean to slight anyone’s cancer experience or leave something off. But that could be it’s own very long post in and of itself. So here are some big ones: The Susan G. Komen Founation, Livestrong and the American Cancer Society.
  • AIDS: Product RED. Motorola, AmEx, GAP, Converse, Ipod, Hallmark and so many more have joined the RED campaign since it’s launch in 2006. This campaign is perhaps the best embodiment of what mindful capitalism can be (at least to me). From Nov. 27-Jan. 2 Starbucks will contribute 5 cents to the RED campaign if you buy the official Product RED Starbucks beverage. If you’re already going to buy the Ipod or whatever, check first to see if there’s a RED version. The Body Shop continues to offer the silver AIDS bracelet. The bracelets can also be found at Until There’s a Cure.
  • Domestic Violence: The Body Shop has a line that donates money toward ending domestic violence. Donate your old cell phone to help victims of domestic violence through programs like Call to Protect or the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • Literacy: One of my biggest passions! First Book strives to make sure every child has at least one book. The American Library Association has a nice little site with goods to promote open minds and open thought (as in, no banned books).
  • Poverty: There’s FINCA International, an organization dedicated to ending poverty in developing countries, and Trickle Up, a global charity that grants money for new businesses to low-income women and people with disabilities.
  • Hunger: Perhaps the most unique gift you can give is an animal through Heifer International, which helps impoverished people in developing countries by giving them a hand-up not just a hand-out.
  • Education: If you’re upgrading your laptop send your old one to a child in one of 61 countries through Worldcomputerexchange.org.
  • Animals: For my money the World Wildlife Fund is where it’s at. They have some good donation options with gifts attached. (And don’t try to get me to list PETA, because they piss me off.)
  • Environment: American Forest has partnered with companies like Ikea to offer ways to plant trees, offset carbon emissions and generally help the earth. Liberate someone from their junk mail and help the planet at the same time by giving a gift subscription to Green Dimes. For the music fan: For every song downloaded through Tunes for Trees (an offshoot of iTunes) a tree is planted.
  • National Disaster Victims (Katrina, CA wildfires, etc.): Be a part of the Make It Right sustainable rebuilding program in New Orleans. They’ve got merch, including some items donated by Mr. Brad Pitt himself. Tide is donating all proceeds from its vintage tee sales to help victims of natural disasters again this year. Of course, there’s always The Red Cross.

Greeting Cards & Gift Wrap:

  • UNICEF. Oldie but a goodie with great cards and gifts.
  • With Good Cause Greeting Products you can buy holiday cards that benefit the charity of your choice from a pretty healthy list. It’s kind of awesome.
  • Drawbridge is a San Francisco-based arts program for homeless children. They sell cards with designs by homeless children as well as gifts.

6 thoughts on “Thanks and Thankful Giving: Or Mindful Capitalism

  1. I love this list. Now I just need to pick what I’ll be doing for holiday gift giving. I especially like the Igives, Green Dimes and Tunes for Trees ideas. :D
    Thanks for your near exhaustive work!!!

  2. Thank you so much for educating people about the wonderful work of Heifer International. I am a Heifer Volunteer Coordinator in Illinois. I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand the amazing results of Heifer’s work. I’d like people to know that a gift to Heifer just keeps on giving because of our “Passing on the Gift” practice. Each family that receives an animal from Heifer passes on the first offspring to another family. So once you give one gift, you are giving for years to come as well!
    I recently joined Team Heifer. I will be raising money for Heifer’s important programs to end hunger and poverty around the world. I am offering to you the idea of entertaining an “Unseen Guest with an Empty Bowl” as if they were sitting at your table with you. If you would like to contribute to Heifer International, you can go to the link below to visit my personal page and support my efforts in any amount you can. Because of the “Passing On” of animals, you will be feeding many Unseen Guests who will no longer have Empty Bowls!
    Copy and paste the following into your browser:

    http://heifer.kintera.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=178641&u=178641-76213908&e=2054051292

    Thank you so much for helping! Barb

  3. Thanks for writing about this. I created a company in memory of my 28 year old sister, Liz, who died from breast cancer. Uptown Liz (www.uptownliz.com) promotes products from companies whose proceeds go to charity. You can shop on this one-of-a-kind Web site by charitable cause or product category, knowing that every time you make a purchase you are making a difference. There are many great art, clothing, jewelry, house wares, beauty and eco-friendly products (just to name a few) that benefit charities all over the world.

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