Holiday Gift Guide: For the Philanthropist

charity gifts header photo

Photo via UNICEF

There are some deep souls that are always thinking of others, and when the giving season rolls around, it’s the greater good that tops their lists. The only problem? "The greater good" is not exactly easy to wrap. But we've tracked down the best ways to donate to the causes that are close to the hearts of your nearest and dearest, from organizations that support orphans or feed the hungry to those that protect animals or replant forests. And since donations are welcome in amounts from low to high, you can stay within your budget while making a big impact—and who can put a price on that?

farm sanctuary photo

Photo via Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary

Ever wonder what happens to abused factory farm animals after they’re rescued? Sadly, most just become part of our food supply chain, but there is one place that offers them a second chance. Farm Sanctuary cares for 1,400 chickens, lambs, cows, pigs, and other animals at its New York and California farms, while the company’s farm animal adoption network places hundreds more into loving homes throughout the U.S. Make a donation in a friend or family member’s name and they’ll acknowledge it with a letter to the giver and card to the recipient—plus discounted accommodations during farm visits and the Sanctuary’s quarterly newsletter. (Farm Sanctuary, from $20)

world wildlife fund photo

Photo via World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund

On every list, there’s a person who doesn’t want you to worry about getting them anything—which, of course, makes it that much harder. Here’s where the World Wildlife Fund comes in handy: does your impossible-to-buy-for uncle have a pygmy elephant? Or a blue-footed booby? The WWF offers these—and many more—enigmatic, endangered animals that you can symbolically adopt; the adoption kit includes a certificate, photo, and stuffed toy (so you can avoid awkward questions about what, exactly, a blue-footed booby is). Face it: at most stores, you’d pay the same price for just the stuffed animal. (World Wildlife Fund, $25-$100)

north shore animal league photo

Photo via North Shore Animal League

North Shore Animal League

New York’s North Shore Animal League is the nation’s largest no-kill shelter —which means if you’re in the Northeast, chances are that one or two of the adorable romping mutts at your familiar dog run have spent some time there. If you’re in the market for a new best friend, this is the place. If you’re not, you can still proclaim your position in the pack and protect the critters housed at NSAL with gifts from the League’s online store, like the Dogfather Tee ($19); all the proceeds benefit the pups and kitties, so there’s no doubt your gift is money well-spent. (North Shore Animal League, from $10.50)

Next: plant a tree, save an animal, brighten a wall

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