Once a year, if you live in the Christmas-celebrating parts of the world (these grow bigger every year, it's an economic development strategy), you may agonize over the problem of presents.
What do I give that's meaningful? Reasonable? Even (if you are very earnest, as I confess to being) sustainable?
This recommendation is not about kids. Kids get presents, period. Preferably very cool presents. Otherwise life for them is probably barely worth living.
But adults understand abstract gifts. Particularly abstract gifts that actually do good in the world.
For the adults in your life, go to this website: www.globalgiving.com. Once there, use the very educational "Find Project Wizard" (this is the smartest little hermeneutic I ever saw on a commercial website) to figure out where to send your money.
And then send a lot of money. Directly to a project, somewhere in the poorer parts of the world. Not through some large-non-governmental-organization intermediary. But directly to, say, a school in Africa, or an organic farming program in India.
Yes, the fine folks at GlobalGiving get a small cut, but a much smaller one than the Big NGOs. This is eBay for small-time philanthropists.
The folks who started this company used to work at the World Bank. They were responsible for some of the Bank's most innovative programs -- heck, they were "meta-innovators," creating projects that created innovative projects. Then they realized the Bank wasn't the best place to be quite so innovative, and they started the company that ultimately became Global Giving.
I gave my U.S. loved ones the gift of vermiculture in India this year. A tiny piece of ruined farmland in Andra Pradesh will get restored with "their" worms. It will thereby feed poor people, earn them a sustainable livelihood, improve local environmental conditions, and reduce global carbon dioxide concentrations.
Not a bad present, don't you think?
Happy holidays ...
I've got a cynical question:
If you give a gift to charity in somebody's name, who gets the tax deduction?
Dennis Whittle at globalgiving.com gave me the answer straightaway (even before I'd asked it): The giver gets the deduction.
Thanks. I'd kind of prefer it was the recipient. A nice tangible benefit on top of the honor.
I just received a gift from Send A Cow (http://www.sendacow.org.uk/}. A former colleague gifted me with a couple of chickens and a turkey which have been given to an African family in my honour.
How cool is that?