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?
Photo via Farm Sanctuary
Farm SanctuaryEver wonder what happens to abused factory farm animals after they’re rescued? Sadly, most just become part of our food http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/adopt-a-turkey.html 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)
Photo via World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife FundOn 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)
Photo via North Shore Animal League