I know that many of us are looking long and hard at our holiday gift giving lists this year. (I'm maintaining mine on a product I discovered via a BlogHer sponsor, Springpad...check it out if you're my kind of anal retentive!)
You're probably economizing on the gifts you do give, but you're also probably thinking about this: If you are in a good enough financial position to be making a list and checking it twice, would some of that money be also well-spent in a little more year-end giving?
This year my family is:
a. giving gifts to the kids
b. having each adult pull one other adult's name to give an actual gift
c. each making a charitable donation as our overall gift to the family
I'm busily trying to figure out who that charity should be for me and my S.O. Last year we did the same, and we picked One Laptop per Child...taking advantage of their Give One, Get One program.
I also am deciding which of my regular charities will receive extra year-end donations from me.
I know that the Humane Society of Silicon Valley is on the list. This was the first year I did not donate to them, starting last holiday season, because I did not agree with them doing horse carriage rides as a way to fundraise. (You can read that whole story here.) Well, this year they reached out to tell me that, in part due to my interchanges with them, they decided not to run that program again. So, since I told them that I was going to stop my long-term giving to them until they stopped...and they stopped...it's back on the Elisa gravy train for the HSSV.
I will probably donate to my alumni association, I make monthly donations to Greenpeace and the DNC already. And then there's the various acronym soup represented by PETA, PCRM, HSUS, and so on and so on.
If you are looking for alternate ways to give, including ways to give of yourself that are not dollar-oriented, here are some great resources:
Britt Bravo links to some great resources for deciding how to allocate your giving, and how to keep track of it over on BlogHer.
One of the links she features is from Change.org, where Social Entrepreneurship editor Nathaniel Whittemore is gathering and sharing tips for giving from noted social good and social change blogerati.
If you need some lightly amusing and satirical inspiration...and then a place to take action...then look no further than Changing the Present. They've filmed some commercials that put those cheesy "buy her a diamond and erase all your sins and prove you really love her" commercials in their place. Plus, they have hundreds of charities to choose from to give, along with an appropriate accompanying gift card.
Finally, I discovered via Marnie Webb: GiveList. Ways ot give that don't involve your wallet at all. More about their project is here, and you can read what the NY Times had to say about it here. You can find lots of ways to contribute either your own time and skill or thins you would never miss, but would mean a lot to some.
I hope somewhere in all of this you get some great ideas.