Gifts of charity

Honor someone with a gift that supports a cause

If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you’re probably familiar with the episode where George hands out Christmas cards to co-workers indicating he made a donation in their names to The Human Fund. Of course, known for his frugality, George made up The Human Fund to get out of spending money.

George got the thought from his friend Tim Whatley, who gifted him a similar donation, yet for a legit organization. Now Whatley had the right idea, and people seem to be following his lead these days.

Just look at your Facebook feed. The latest birthday trend is to ask for donations for the charity of your choice. Animal and nature lovers might choose the ASPCA or The Nature Conservancy, while arts aficionados may earmark NPR or VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

You might be familiar with the phrase, “In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to…” in an obituary. That practice is also extending onto Facebook now. Many posts indicating the death of a loved one often contain a link to donate to a research organization related to a specific illness such as Alzheimer’s Association or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

No matter what the genre, there is an organization looking for donations. The Fundraisers tab on Facebook includes 12 categories, and you can Google categories on your own to come up with additional ideas. So no matter what your giftee’s passion, you can find a way to invest in the support of their interests.

Best of all, online donations make great last-minute gifts, as you can just log-on and complete your transaction in minutes. Then, you can usually print out a note stating your generosity that can be placed in a greeting card, or have an e-mail sent directly to your loved one. It’s a win-win situation!

What’s your favorite charity to donate to? Feel free to comment below.

This week’s picks:

For him: Give a gift of thanks to the men and women who keep our country safe. Monetary donations to the military and their families can be made online through Support Our Troops. There’s nothing more manly than protecting the ones you love. $50 and up

For her: What could be more romantic that naming a star after someone? Star Registration lets you choose a visible sparkler specifically for your lady. It comes with a certificate, a celestial map and registration. $39.90 and up

For kids: Teach kids the power they have to help the underpriveledged in a fun way. Heifer International has a number of charitable options. A flock of chicks ($20) can provide a poor family with a steady egg supply and eggs to sell. A llama ($150 or part-share $20) can provide material for warmth and clothing and items to sell.

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