The Real Spirit of the Season: 14 Charity Gift Sites

Does your boss really need another coffee mug, or your father another tie? What if you could, instead, give them a gift that changes another person’s life, or improves the environment? These 14 charitable giving websites allow you to symbolically ‘adopt’ an animal, foster a coral reef, provide school books for children in third world countries and give long-term sustenance to families in need. Your recipients receive a card letting them know that you’ve donated in their names and that warm glow that comes with doing a great deed.

Oxfam America Unwrapped

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Mosquito nets, vegetable gardens and goats can be the difference between life and death for families in need around the world. Oxfam America Unwrapped lets you choose a unique gift that can help give an education, start a business, recover from a disaster or provide long-term food and water solutions. Your friend or loved one gets a card letting them know that you have donated in his or her honor, and the money goes to someone in need.

Greater Good

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Greater Good partners with charities around the world, letting donors give 100% tax-deductible contributions directly to nonprofit causes like recovery from the earthquake in Turkey, feeding malnourished children in Africa, providing clean water to families in Guatemala and helping veterans in America get training for new jobs. Choose your preferred cause, and you can donate in the name of your gift recipient.

International Fund for Animals

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Honor someone special with tribute gifts from the International Fund for Animals, which saves animals in crisis around the world including whales, elephants, seals and domesticated pets. IFAW will send a special card to the individual of your choice to notify them of your tribute.

Heifer International

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Give a gift that will change someone’s life forever. Heifer International works to end world hunger by providing livestock, trees and bees to people in need. Gifts include cows, sheep, goats, water buffalos, geese, pigs and chicks. These gifts can make all the difference in the world as they produce offspring to sell and manure to nourish crops.

Bidding for Good

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Want a real, physical gift that also gives to charitable causes and organizations? Check out Bidding for Good, an auction site where you can shop for travel packages, unique experiences like hot air balloon rides, tickets to special events and in-demand items like iPods. A portion of proceeds goes to a cause specified by the seller including elementary schools, pet rescue organizations and the arts.

Alternative Gifts International

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At Alternative Gifts International, you can choose a cause that might resonate with your intended gift recipient – like hunger, education, gender equality, reducing child mortality or environmental sustainability. Projects within each focus area might give children around the world anti-parasite treatment, provide bicycles to rural healthcare workers in Namibia, give safe water to people i the Philippines or help kids in Myanmar stay in school.

The Nature Conservancy

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The Nature Conservancy invites you to “give a gift of conservation.” You can adopt a coral reef in Palau or an acre in the Northern Rockies. You can plant trees in Brazil, give the gift of clean water or give a special kid’s gift of protecting threatened species like turtles, jaguars, rhinos and orangutans. Another fun gift is the Animal Adoption Kit for kids; the gift recipient will receive a backpack full of stuffed versions of the animals that are being protected in their name as well as discounts from eco-friendly retailers, field trip invitations and more.

Charity: Water

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We take clean water for granted, letting untold millions of gallons of it disappear down the drain when people around the world don’t have access to a single glass. Charity: Water, an organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, allows you to donate in someone’s honor. You get to choose a specially-designed greeting card to send the recipient, and 100% of your donation will directly fund water project costs.


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Oceana works to protect the world’s oceans, and when you choose to adopt marine wildlife through them, your money will fund efforts to improve the health and safety of species like bluefin tuna, sea turtles, coral, sharks, whales and dolphins. You can adopt the species of your choice and send an ‘Honor Card’, printed with soy inks on recycled paper using 100% wind power. When you adopt four animals, you receive four stuffed animals, and adopting six will get you a set of cookie cutters.


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Not sure which charity or cause your gift recipients would prefer? Let them choose. At TisBest, you choose between printing a gift card on your printer or sending a 100% recycled gift card by regular mail. Choose between over 50 stock images, or upload your own to personalize it. The recipient then gets to select the charity of his or her choice to receive the donation.

Concern Worldwide

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Located outside the United States? No problem. Many of the charities on this list can work with international donors, and Concern Worldwide deals specifically in Euros. Types of gifts include medical help, long term support in the form of apple trees or solar water pumps, access to education, and school books and sports equipment for kids.

National Parks Annual Pass

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Encourage your friends, family members and co-workers to explore America’s most beautiful natural spaces. The National Parks Annual Pass gives them access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks, national wildlife refuges and national forests. Of course, the entrance fees covered by the pass are a crucial part of the National Parks System’s budget, so purchasing this pass preserves our natural heritage for everyone. The pass covers the driver plus all passengers, so it’s an ideal way to give an eco-friendly, charitable gift to an entire family.

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Here’s another way to let your gift recipient choose exactly which charity he or she would like to see your funds to go. JustGive features over 1,000 recommended charities in areas like animals, education, children, arts and culture, disaster relief and women’s issues. You can either send the recipient an email notification, or have JustGive mail a personalized note card.

World of Good

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World of Good truly is the best of both worlds. Offering a selection of artisan, hand-made and fair trade clothing, household goods and other gifts, World of Good is a special eBay market site for socially and environmentally responsible shopping. You can purchase physical gifts that your friends and family will love, and know that your money is supporting economic empowerment, energy conservation, animal welfare and other causes. World of Good verifies each merchant through a third-party non-profit partner.


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