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 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
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.