For the Philanthropist: 7 Gifts Supporting Fantastic Non-Profits

polar obsession photo

Photo: The Annenberg Space for Photography
Giving the perfect gift doesn't have to mean spending the entire month of December at the mall -- and then showing up with the same chocolate-scented candle you got your hard-to-buy-for cousins last year.

It doesn't have to mean giving a thing at all: Instead, philanthropic donations and symbolic adoptions help you put your gift budget toward a good cause. And if you want to have something to wrap, then choose books, videos, and apparel that support these seven non-profits that are making the world a better place year-round.

1. The Annenberg Space for Photography

The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles shows off works from established and emerging photographers in its chic gallery; you can bring a little of that cultural impact to your own living room with a lineup of striking nature books that includes Polar Obsession, Into the Volcano, Last Place on Earth, and Through the Lens.

These "extreme photography" collections show just how far shooters will go for the perfect image -- and give you a whole new perspective on the importance of conservation.

2. Natural Resources Defense Council

force for nature book photo
Photo: NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council has one succinct mission: "to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends."

Find out more about the history of the NRDC in A Force for Nature, the new book from founder John H. Adams. The non-fiction tome spans 40 years of environmental action, including "courtroom battles, legislative triumphs, natural wonders, and personal memories," and includes a foreword by Robert Redford.

And if you're not buying for a bookworm, you can also donate to the organization's programs that support clean energy, save wildlife, clean up oceans, and protect rainforests.

3. The Nature Conservancy

hummingbird rescue photo
Photo: The Nature Conservancy The Nature Conservancy offers symbolic adoptions of reefs and acres, plus the "Plant a Billion Trees" campaign -- but you can choose a more unique gift with a donation that protects hummingbird habitats.

The tiny birds migrate more than 2,000 miles each year to nest on the exact same branch they staked out in the past -- and with donations of $50 or more, you can make sure they have something to come back to.

4. Oceana

oceana nautica shirt photo
Photo: Oceana/Carlos Suarez

Give the water-lovers in your life gifts from Oceana -- including symbolic adoptions of dolphins, sharks, turtles, whales, and other sea life; donations that support the end of oil drilling and pollution in the Gulf of Mexico; and cookie cutters or stuffed animals that show off your favorite creatures.

New this year, the organization also offers this Save the Gulf t-shirt, designed by Nautica, which was created for the Gulf of Mexico Expedition.

5. National Wildlife Federation

great horned owl photo
Photo: mybulldog/Creative Commons

If the kids on your list couldn't get enough of the animated film "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole", then extend their knowledge with an owl adoption from the National Wildlife Federation.

The film will be available in stores on December 17 (just in time for Christmas), but the NWF already offers online activity guides, stories, and game suggestions that help teach kids about the conservation of Great Horned Owls.

6. Fate of the World Game

fate of the world game photo
Screenshot: Fate of the World TckTckTck partnered with Harmony and the rest of its network -- including Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and -- for mosaic:Earth, a "collaborative media project to celebrate all of the individual efforts we take to improve our world."

Though TckTckTck doesn't sell merchandise, their partners do -- and the organization is especially excited about the launch of the computer game "Fate of the World."

Pre-order the game -- which lets you try to save the world by making smart environmental, financial, and developmental choices -- now, and you can play the beta version until the full game is released in early 2011.

7. Global Inheritance

global inheritance mini bins photo
Photo: Global Inheritance Global Inheritance describes itself as an organization that "bridges the arts, creative thinking and education to develop interactive programs to inspire activism" -- and if you want to show off your commitment to creativity this holiday, then you can take home a piece of the group's recent art show.

Forty Los Angeles artists worked on making over pint-sized recycling bins with one-of-a-kind results (that you can purchase starting at $40). Feeling inspired? You can also buy a blank bin and put your own personal touches on it.

More Holiday Gift Ideas
TreeHugger's 2010 Green Gift Guide: Low-Impact Luxury for High-Impact Giving
10 Truly Great DIY Gifts
Green Holiday Gift Guide: The Philanthropist

For the Philanthropist: 7 Gifts Supporting Fantastic Non-Profits

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