12 Last Minute Gifts that Make a Difference

December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s the holiday season and I have to admit I have been a bit of a Scrooge lately. The stress (and crowdedness!) of the season has been getting to me. It also hurts my heart to spend so much money giving my friends presents when there are people all over the world in need of SO much! I know there are other people in the same boat. So how do I give presents and show my appreciation for the ones I love while still donating to great causes? I’ve created a list of 12 organizations that can help you give easy and meaningful last minute gifts to your friends while still supporting a great cause. 

1. “Feedback Loop” Collection

By far one of the most gorgeous gifts on my list, these notebooks were designed by 25 leading letterpresses who were asked to create 50 unique notebooks. All proceeds go to Design Ignites Change, a program that engages high school and college students in multi-disciplinary design and architecture used towards social issues (yeah, basically what this blog is about…) Each notebook costs only $15, looks unique and gorgeous and goes towards a great organization. What more can you ask for?

2. Charity: Water

I am not alone when I say that Charity: Water is one of the best non-profits to come about in recent years.  Not only do they clearly focus in on their mission (to bring clean an safe drinking water to people in developing nations), but they show their donors exactly where their money goes ($5,000 can provide clean water for a village, $20 can give one person clean water). As a designer, I also have to mention how gorgeous they make their organization (and they’re proof that this MATTERS). They obviously care about their donors which is why their personal gifts make great holiday presents. Choose from a range of gift options from $20 – $5,000 (if you’re a realllllly good friend). This year, water may just be the best present you can give.

3. Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Their store has everything from clever t-shirts to water bottle and mugs (I mean, hello they have a SNUGGIE!). They have a great selection of gifts for all price ranges and we all know we could use more equality in the US of A. 

4. 88 Bikes

Living in NYC I truly realize the power of transportation. Making the move to Brooklyn I essentially envy every bike rider I see. 88 Bikes was founded based on the idea that transportation can change lives. They work to empower young individuals in developing countries by giving them bikes. By giving the gift of $88 you can donate a bike to a child, $44 donates a toolkit.

6. Sweet Riot

If you know of someone with a sweet tooth, here’s a gift for them. Sweet Riot is a relatively new non-profit that uses sweets (they call them “peaces”) as a way to celebrate the diversity and culture of the world we live in. Making sure to focus on fair trade and quality of product, Sweet Riots uses recyclable, reusable packaging which features emerging artists. Peace tastes so good!

7. Plant With Purpose

Most of the time you hear about charities helping the poor or helping the environment, but unfortunately many times these two issues aren’t linked as much as they should be. Plant With Purpose helps reduce poverty by working with the impoverished to restore productivity to their land. You can buy animals, trees, give out loans, create family gardens, etc. that will help change villages around the world.

8. TIckets for Charity

I love gifts that are experiences rather than material posessions. Concert tickets have always been one of my favorite present (it may or may not be because I often get to go too!). Tickets for Charity is a fantastic site that allows you to buy tickets to sports, music or other events and then choose the charity you wish for the money to go to. That’s right, Tickets for Charity donates 100% of what you just paid for that hard to get ticket towards a charity of your choosing. So you get to buy tickets, see an awesome event from great seats AND give money. Perfect!

9. ONE

ONE fights poverty and preventable diseases (mostly in Africa) through advocacy and campaigning. Most famous for being co-founded by U2’s Bono, this organization has a big fat #1 on my list for Most Admired Organizations. They communicate in innovative, clear, interesting and relevant ways. Each campaign of theirs always manages to bring me to tears yet inspire me at the same time. Most of you have heard of this organization and that’s because it does such a fantastic job of spreading the word. As a true believer of awareness being the solution for so many of today’s issues, I love the idea of a ONE branded gift to help spread this cure. My favorites? The ONEsies and the Feed Bag. 

10. Not For Sale

FYI, slaves still exist. Didn’t know this? It’s because often it’s hidden from us. Not For Sale is an organization that campaigns to mobilize solutions for abolishing slavery throughout the world. This organization shows us what we don’t see and works towards not only uncovering this issue but also towards finding solutions to make sure all humans are free. Their “Freedom Store” has tons of great finds. Personally, I love their jewelry and their great “Bottle and Champagne Flute Bags.” Shop and let freedom ring!

11. Invisible Children

I have been a long time fan of Invisible Children. The organization was started by a few young filmmakers who were able to document the horrors of child soldiering in Northern Uganda and what I admire most about this organization is their ability to get the youth of American involved and passionate about the issue. They use creative means to spread awareness on the issue of child soldiering and make you feel like you can make a difference. You can put a student in school for a month for $35 or give a child school supplies for $10. If none of these fit, you can choose from their great products to help spread the word about the organization (my favorite are the gorgeous silver bracelets with the CD).

12. Changing the Present

Still have no idea what to give someone? You can’t go wrong with Changing the Present. This website allows you to purchase from a huge range of charities a tangible item that will help someone in need. Whether it be a month of porridge that will feed a hungry child, a doctors visit for a sick person in need, or building a classroom in a village, the choices are endless and all are small steps that go towards making a big difference. Because that’s what the holidays are all about. 

Be Merry and Give a Damn this year! Happy Holidays!


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