It’s tempting to hit the standard department and big box stores as the holidays approach each year, but this year, consider giving some socially responsible gifts instead.

Alternative Gift Giving

It’s tempting to hit the standard department and big box stores as the holidays approach each year, but this year, consider giving some socially responsible gifts instead.

The benefits?
Because these are gifts you can’t buy in a store, they include less waste, waste that usually takes the form of wrapping and packaging.  And you can share the wealth.  These are gifts that are shared with families and cultures outside of your own.  Finally, many people report that they feel more fulfilled when they give a socially responsible gift than they typically do on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.

Here are three types of Socially Responsible Gifts:

1.  The gift of belonging. 
Give a membership to an eco organization like Co-Op America, the Sierra Club, or a local charity group.

2.  The gift of necessities to those who need them.
Heifer International is one of my favorite examples of this.  You, from the comfort of your living room, can give a cow to a family in need.  Each animal representing opportunity for self reliance for a family living in poverty.
OxFam is another fantastic one!  OxFam allows you to give a cow, building tools, an emergency toilet (outhouse in disaster areas), blankets, or even a house.  Necessities for those who need them most.

3.  The gift of opportunity. 
This is my personal favorite.  Micro-Finance allows everyday people to make investments that directly address poverty, creating business opportunities for the world’s working poor.  For years, instead of giving gifts to each other, my family has donated for micro-loans to a bank that we funded in an area of Africa.  We’ve traditionally done this through FINCA.
MicroPlace is the micro finance company that I traveled to Kenya with to, visiting borrowers who have benefited from loans by people like you and me.  When you invest through MicroPlace your money actually functions as an investment.  When the loan is repaid, you get to reinvest.  In this way, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Try Socially Responsible Gifting this year.  And may your holidays be bright!