This Christmas, Consider Donating Instead of Buying Presents

This Christmas, Consider Donating Instead of Buying Presents

Christmas is a really stressful time for a lot of people. I find it particularly straining because I work in retail and customers are so on edge this time of year. People feel a lot of pressure to find suitable presents for their loved ones, and there is a sense of urgency to get it finished in time. However, I would argue that this is a good time of year to take stock of everything that you have in life, and consider mindfully donating to an effective charity on behalf of a loved one.

If we’re going to be honest with ourselves, a lot of the presents that we buy for other people are not things that they really need. Typical presents for women include bath bombs and beauty products, and men are often given alcohol as a token gift. Unless you find something thoughtful that you think would improve the life of someone in particular, most of the presents are just grasping at straws to buy something. The phrase ‘stocking filler’ is something that I abhor more than most other terms. The idea that we should buy extra, needless things just to fill some sort of capitalism quota that proves our caring at Christmas is something that really rubs me the wrong way.

Rather than wasting your money on thoughtless presents, it can be more meaningful donating on a loved one’s behalf to an effective organisation. By effective I mean an organisation that has proven positive results and which is an example of sustainable development practise.

You can still make these presents personal by donating to an organisation that matches their specific interests or past experiences. These are the organisations that I recommend donating to.

Kiva Loans

Money in the earth

Kiva is one of my favourite organisations because it is micro-finance and not straight charity. Users in impoverished conditions make a profile where they ask for a certain amount of money for their business, education, or family. Lenders then choose how much money they are willing to lend to this individual, and so several people are often funding the same user. The recipient is then subject to repayment periods, and so at the end of this repayment, you get your investment back. This can then be reinvested or given to another project.

Kiva loans can be filtered by country, category, and the type of person that is requesting the loan. Common loans include people asking for money so that they can buy the goods needed to start a small business. Also common is requests for funding for higher education, or to support families during times of economic vulnerability.

I particularly like Kiva because it isn’t just charity. Recipients are subject to repayments and so are learning financial responsibility while they receive funding that they otherwise may not have access to. I think that it’s also easy to personalise a donation on someone else’s behalf to make it more meaningful. For example, I have loaned money to a woman in Nicaragua on behalf of my mother before because she has previously travelled there. I also tend to choose recipients who are women, particularly single mothers, because they are one of the most marginalised groups.

Against Malaria Foundation

malaria mosquito

Against Malaria Foundation is straightforward charity where your donation buys anti-malarial nets for families in vulnerable countries. Malaria is a devastating illness that kills at least a million people a year across tropical countries of the world. The majority of the infections occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is easily preventable because the disease is spread by mosquito bites. However, many people in malarial zones do not have access to the insecticides needed to deter infected mosquitoes.

This is where Against Malaria Foundation steps in. It is considered to be one of the most effective charities in the world. This is because the nets are highly effective for preventing bites from malarial mosquitoes, 100% of the donations go directly towards purchasing nets, and the organisation has a high degree of transparency about its operations.

I like this organisation because you can see exactly how many nets your money is buying and where exactly in the world they are being sent. The organisation’s website is also highly informative and open about their operations and how they spend their money. I think that it is a meaningful organisation to donate to because it is so effective at saving lives proportionate to the small amount of money needed to donate.

Donating at Christmas makes meaningful contributions.

Christmas is a time when we should be grateful for the people that we have in our lives, and showing them appreciation for what they do for us. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to waste money on presents that don’t particularly appeal to them. Donating on their behalf to an organisation that matches their specific interests is a good way to show that you are thinking of them, but also thinking of others less fortunate. If you find a meaningful gift that your loved one would enjoy, then by all means buy it for them. But if you feel like you are just grasping at straws for something to buy, then please consider donating instead.

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By | 2018-01-11T22:48:12+00:00 December 18th, 2017|ethical travel|12 Comments


  1. Matt December 21, 2017 at 2:27 am - Reply

    You make some strong suggestions here, Kiva Loans sounds like an amazing project. Each year I donate to a cause I found on my travels rather than spending all that money on Christmas cards. It seems more people like to do it each year, which is great. This year it’s going to Jimmy’s School. a project in Cambodia that gives free evening English lessons to street kids. There’s a post about it on my site if you wanted to check it out. Happy Christmas.

    • Her Travel Therapy December 21, 2017 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      That’s really good and I’m glad that you have found worthy organisations while travelling. It’s lovely that you can give back to these communities even once you are no longer in them.

  2. Kasia Mikolajczak (@KasiaMikola) December 21, 2017 at 7:55 am - Reply

    This is such a wonderful idea that I wholeheartedly support. In fact I have given gifts like this before. They’re always so much more meaningful. Thanks for sharing these organizations. I will look into them.

  3. Brooke December 21, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    I love this idea. I always ask friends to donate for my birthday instead of buying me a gift perhaps I’ll suggest these foundations.

  4. Lisa December 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    I love your donation ideas! So thoughtful. We donate clothing and bathroom products every year as a family. I also made a deal with our extended family to do Kris Kringle to cut down on needless spending. It seems to work well and keep everyone happy. Best to you over the holidays!!

    • Her Travel Therapy December 21, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      That’s another good idea so that you don’t have to buy presents for every single person!

  5. joniamac December 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    This is such a wonderful idea! I usually donate to Salvation Army or Toys for tots during this time of year. Thank you for sharing these organizations!

  6. Niki December 21, 2017 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Preach lady!! I have planned with my friends to go to a children with terminal diseases hospital and we will buy gifts for all the brave children there. I know it will bring a smile in their face especially since we will be dressed like Santas. Every single gesture of kindness counts! I love your suggestions 🙂

    • Her Travel Therapy December 21, 2017 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      That’s really thoughtful and I’m sure it will brighten the day of the children there.

  7. Tahnee December 21, 2017 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    I always try to help out locally at Christmas. Whether it’s donating presents or food that I know will benefit people who may be having a hard time. Christmas is for giving after all xx

    • Her Travel Therapy December 21, 2017 at 8:11 pm - Reply

      That’s really lovely 🙂

  8. Katchutravels (@Katchutravels) December 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Very nice! I think that’s the way most celebrations should be done. Capitalism finds a way to using emotions, and we need to at some point ask ourselves, what’s the point of all of this and find true meaning in making the world a better place!

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