Last minute gift ideas

Scrambling to find just the right gift at this late hour? Do us all a favor and think before you run off to any old shop and buy any old thing. Nobody wants that. I ask you to simply think before you shop.

There is still time to peruse the offerings of your local shops. The ones that hire locally, live locally, and make an impact on the community as a whole. That can be overwhelming at this late hour, especially if you don’t have an idea of what you might want or if you have someone difficult to shop for on your list.

There is even still time to whip up a simple homemade gift, but barely. A homemade salt scrub or edible gifts sound wonderful and something one might be able to manage, even at the last minute.

The easiest gift to give is the gift of donation. There are so many organizations that have been hurt by the bad economy. So many in desperate need to of funding to carry out the important work they do. This is work that changes lives and makes the world a better place. What better gift is there? If you can tailor your donation gift to the recipient’s interests the best you can, it makes it even more meaningful.

The difficult part is deciding which organization to donate to!

Here are my top choices for this year:

Kiva Microloans Recipient

Kiva Microloans Recipient (photo: hodag via flickr)

  • Kiva. Kiva provides microloans to entrepreneurs, primarily women, somewhere in the world allowing for empowerment, accountability, and alleviate poverty. The average loan is $380.92. This is the amount that will change lives.
Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders - This surgeon has seen 4 year old children who can fit their arm through that hole due to horrific malnutrition. (photo: Jin via flickr)

  • Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières. Doctors Without Borders provides medical humanitarian aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.
Executive Director Kate Grant at the Fistula Hospital

Executive Director Kate Grant and Congressman Mike Honda with patients at the Fistula Hospital. (photo: Mike Honda via flickr)

  • The Fistula Foundation. The Fistula Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of and funding for fistula repair, prevention, and educational programs worldwide to help eradicate fistula. It costs as little as $450 to change a woman’s life.

Other wonderful organizations:

  1. Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
  2. Heifer International. Heifer works with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth by providing livestock and training. This improves nutrition and provides income. Each family then agrees to give one offspring to another family of need, Passing on the Gift.
  3. Futures For Children. Futures for Children’s mission is to enhance the quality of the educational experience for American Indian students through mentoring and leadership development.
  4. International Rescue Committee. The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Arriving at the scene of an emergency withing 72 hours, the IRC provides immediate help, will also stay to help survivors heal, recover and rebuild their communities to be stronger, more stable and more democratic.
  5. Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center. Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) is a cancer treatment and research institution. Because everyone knows someone touched by cancer.
  6. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV and AIDS. We’re working in 17 countries around the world to provide HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for women, children, and families—with a mission to eliminate pediatric AIDS.
  7. Helen Keller International. Founded by Helen Keller in 1915, Helen Keller International is committed to eradicate preventable blindness and to ensure children and adults no longer suffer the debilitating effects of poor nutrition.
  8. Animal Welfare Institute. Animal Welfare Institute is dedicated to alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans. One of the greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals.
  9. Jane Goodall Institute. The Jane Goodall Institute is a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things through research, public education and advocacy for the great apes and education and promotion of sustainable livelihoods in local communities.
  10. Help me out with this one. There are so many to choose from!

Charity Navigator has a great site to search nearly any non-profit organization and see an evaluation of financial health based on a four star rating system. The American Institute of Philanthropy also evaluates charities that gives a letter grade rating system and has a great top-rated list. Please check out any organization before donating money.

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