No-Gift Green Gift Guide: Charitable Gifts and Donations

No-Gift Green Gift Guide: Charitable Gifts and Donations

Laurie McGinley
Nov 15, 2011

Sometimes the most sustainable gift is a no-gift, or a gift that is not a material object. One way to no-gift is to make a charitable donation in someone's name. Here are four tips to help you find the right organization and 12 ideas to get you started.

Making a charitable gift or donation in someone else's name requires some research. Above all else, you need to know to whom your no-gift recipient would donate. If you are not sure where to start, here are resources to help you find the right no-gift.

  1. Charity Navigator has an extensive list of organizations as well as resources for gift givers. If you are new to no-gift giving read the Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors. From their list:
    "Tip #1: Be Proactive In Your Giving Smart givers generally don't give reactively in a knee-jerk reaction. They don't respond to the first organization that appeals for help. They take the time to identify which causes are most important to them and their families. And they are specific about the change they want to affect. For example, they don't just support generic cancer charities, but instead have targeted outcome goals for their giving, such as providing mammograms to at-risk women in their community."
  2. Just Give
    allows you to search for an organization. If you want to make a gift in someone's name but do not know the name of an organization they support, you can search by keyword to identify possible organizations. Don't miss Just Give's charity collections.
  3. Verify non-profit status
    If you plan on making tax-deductible donations it is important to verify the organization's 501(c)3 status. From the IRS website:
    "In addition, you may verify an organization's tax-exempt status and eligibility to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions by asking to see an organization's IRS letter recognizing it as tax-exempt. You may also confirm an organization's status by calling the IRS (toll-free) at 1-877-829-5500."
  4. Wise Giving Guide is published three times per year by the Better Business Bureau. The 2011 fall and holiday giving guide addresses the role social media plays in gift giving.

    "For a complimentary copy of the Wise Giving Guide, send a post card or note with name and address to: Wise Giving Guide 4200 Wilson Blvd, Suite 800 Arlington, VA 22203"

In addition to the Wise Giving Guide, you can read reviews of organizations listed with the Better Business Bureau.

If you don't have time do to all that research here are five ideas for five types of gifts.

  1. Global Gifts Consider donating to UNICEF to support work with children, Kiva to help start a small business, or the Red Cross to help with disaster relief.
  2. Food Focused If you are making a no-gift in the name of someone who cares about food you could give to Feeding America to provide nutritious, fresh foods for Americans, your local food bank to fight hunger in your community, or the University of Southern California's Grow a Farmer Program to train someone to grow food.
  3. Health Enthusiast A health conscious no-gift recipient may enjoy a donation to Doctors Without Borders to address global health initiatives, Whole Foods' Put Salad Bars in Schools to provide healthy lunches for school children, or water.org to bring clean water and the dignity of a toilet to people around the world.
  4. Community Focused If you want to no-gift to a local organization consider your local food bank, neighborhood organization, or school. Many local newspapers publish a giving guide annually. It will contain a wealth of options for a local minded no-gift.

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