Charitable Gift Guide

’Tis the season for giving and for sharing. Choosing gifts for loved ones can be so much fun and is a big part of the excitement of the season. But… it can get tiring and frustrating too. Do you need to buy a gift for someone who really does seem to have everything (you know… that wealthy relative who has the means – and the inclination – to pick up anything that strikes his fancy)? Or are you buying for someone you don’t know very well (your son’s Grade 3 teacher, your daughter’s ballet instructor, the woman who leads your hot yoga class)? Perhaps you’re choosing a gift for someone who simply has what they need, likes to share with others, and enjoys keeping their life and home uncluttered by ‘stuff’? Charitable gifting is a fantastic option and more interesting than ever.

I think we’re all familiar with the idea of making a charitable donation to a not-for-profit agency in honour of an individual; this is a particularly common way to honour someone who has passed away. And you may realize that you can also make a donation in someone’s honour for any reason you like; it’s a great way to celebrate other milestones in life. Perhaps you’re even aware that a number of charitable operations create holiday gift ‘catalogues’ of donations with tangible outcomes tied to a donation amount (for example, you could donate $75 to buy a goat for a struggling family in a developing country). I knew all these things too, but what has really surprised me is just how many not-for-profits offer gift catalogues and what a wide range of interests and causes they encompass.

Most of the organizations listed here: offer many different gifts in terms of price, type, and location of target recipients, offer online or printable cards to notify your recipient of their gift, and provide a tax receipt for some or all of your contribution. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

Who are you buying for this season? Here are some ideas to help you choose the charitable gift that fits like a [well-fitting] glove.

For a World Traveller

Anyone with an awareness of global issues knows that people in developing countries often face enormous challenges in their daily lives. A number of organizations do important work to assist citizens of poverty-stricken, developing, and war-torn countries with such challenges in their daily lives as health care, sanitation, housing, sustenance, education and economic development.

World Vision operates throughout the world to create better lives for children and their communities.
Great gift: $100 buys a family’s share in a deep well, for clean drinking water.

Unicef is the world’s leading child-focused humanitarian organization and works in 192 countries throughout the world to improve the lives of children.
Great gift: $47 buys an ebola prevention pack. 

For a Teacher

Someone who devotes their time and energy to teaching others is sure to get excited about a gift that provides educational or literacy opportunities to a deserving person.

Plan Canada gives children, families and communities the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and begin the cycle of progress by creating sustainable solutions for improving their own lives.
Great gift: $17 is matched for $153 value and buys school essentials for one child.

First Book Canada provides educators in low-income communities with ongoing access to new, quality books and resources for the children they serve. First Book Canada currently serves over 2,500 schools and community programs.
Great gift: $36 buys 13 empowering stories for girls.

For a Nature Lover

Conserving wild spaces and animal habitat here in North America and worldwide is a passion for many, and children are never too young to be taught about the importance of caring for our world.

Nature Conservancy of Canada protects areas of natural diversity for their intrinsic value and for the benefit of our children and those after them.
Great gift: $120 provides support for Canadian lynx; includes a Canadian nature calendar.

WWF Canada works to secure the future of healthy, thriving ecosystems and all the planet’s species.
Great gift (especially for a child!): $70 for a Wildlife Ranger & White Rhinocerus provides your recipient with a frontline hero plush doll, wildlife plush, adoption certificate, reusable gift bag and information about the work your gift will support.

For a Health Care Worker

Health care workers are devoted to the health and well-being of their patients, so what better gift than supporting an organization also devoted to health and well-being?

Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto is a health-care community dedicated to improving the health of children and carries a wide range of Get Better Gifts to support young patients and their families.
Great gift: $45 provides a festive holiday meal for a family with their child at the hospital.

Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster is the only hospital in BC with trauma, neurosciences, cardiac, high-risk maternity and neonatal intensive care all on one site, as well as being a hub for general hospital services.
Great gift: $10,350 buys a phototherapy light for treating newborns. A bit beyond your budget? No problem, you can buy a share for just $50!

For a Churchgoer

Many charitable organizations are faith-based, and for someone in your life who values their religion, that may make for a great fit.

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada works to create a future of hope for children, families, and communities by helping them develop the skills and resources to overcome poverty and pursue justice.
Great gift: $75 provides a family with an environmentally-friendly cooking stove.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that provides relief and development aid to people around the world experiencing crisis and poverty.
Great gift: $45 can feed 1 family for a month.

For Someone Who is Community-Oriented

You know who these people are… always giving their time to support schools, programs or individuals within their own community. They make life better for those around them and you can help them do that with a community-oriented gift.

Habitat for Humanity mobilizes volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Great gift: $100 buys an energy efficient window for one of Habitat for Humanity’s new homes.

The Bissell Centre, in Edmonton, empowers people to move from poverty to prosperity. They enable people to meet their own basic daily needs, participate in community, have sustainable livelihoods, feel hope for the future and make plans for a prosperous life.
Great gift: $20 helps provide bagged lunches for each daily worker in the Casual Labour Program.

For Someone Who Cares About Kids

Kids are special, we know that. Unfortunately, kids are also vulnerable and many are living in circumstances that we would find acceptable. Fortunately, there are great organizations fighting for the rights and the safety of children, here and abroad.

Covenant House, in Toronto, supports and shelters street kids. Their vision is to lead change that challenges homeless youth to pursue a life of opportunity.
Great gift: $27.04 provides one kid with a half-day of counseling and support at Covenant House.

Free the Children is an international charity and educational partner, working both domestically and internationally to empower and enable youth to be agents of change.
Great gift: $100 buys 1 month of healthy lunches for a school.

For When You Want to Let Them Decide

If you don’t know which organization your recipient would enjoy giving to, or if you want a great way to introduce a child to giving, there are a couple of excellent options.

Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of micro-finance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. You can give a Kiva gift card and let your recipient start lending.

Canada Helps is like one-stop shopping for your donation dollars. The website connects donors wanting to give with charities needing to receive. You can give a Charity Gift Card and your recipient gets to spend donate it online to any Canadian charity.

Not seeing an organization that strikes your fancy? Here are a whole bunch more!

ADRA Canada

camh Foundation

Canadian Feed the Children

Canadian Hunger Foundation



Christian Blind Mission


Food for the Hungry

The Leprosy Mission Canada

Mercy Ships Canada


Save the Children

Seva Canada

TransCanada Trail

World Relief Canada

Operation Smile

So, there you go. We’ve now given you so many options for charitable giving, you will probably stop grumbling about gift shopping and may even start looking for excuses to give more gifts. No problem, you’ll feel great doing it and the lucky person you choose to receive the gift is bound to feel great too. Happy Holidays, Happy Giving, and may the New Year bring you and your loves ones health and happiness!