Where to Give a Holiday

Amidst the flurry of holiday sales and crossing everyone off the list, it’s easy to lose track of the real spirit of the holidays. In an effort to reconnect, we’ve rounded up a list of places that make it easy to donate your time and dollars to those who really need it. While the end of the year is an excellent time to maximize your donations and tax deductions personally, these organizations all offer well-structured tribute gifts for making a donation in honor of a friend or family member.

  • Heifer International

    Heifer International

    This inspiring organization works with people in extreme poverty across the globe by donating animals (a heifer, for example, gives the family a constant supply of milk and the opportunity to pass on calves to another family in need). If you’re donating as a gift, you can pick from a catalog of animals ranging from bees to chickens to water buffalo, depending on the recipient.

  • Museum Membership

    Museum Membership

    Museums rely heavily on memberships to provide funding for their programs and collections. As a gift, you’ll be giving your friends free or reduced entry, access to special exhibitions, and usually a discount in the shop. While every city has its favorites, MoMA, LACMA, and the TATE are sure bets.

  • Operation Gratitude

    Operation Gratitude

    Operation Gratitude is responsible for sending more than 150,000 care packages annually to Veterans, First Responders, and Active Duty service members deployed overseas. Their wish list makes it easy to put together a package, and they even have an Amazon Wish List for one-click giving.

  • Kiva


    Kiva was one of the original pioneers in the micro-loan space. Their gift cards are the definition of the gift that keeps on giving–recipients can choose from one of the thousands of loan applications available on the site, supporting youth, women, rural communities, and so on. When the loan is paid back (with interest!), the payment and returns can be reinvested in another project.

  • Donors Choose

    Donors Choose

    Our love for Donors Choose is well documented—they’ve raised more than 300 million dollars for school projects since the organization was founded. When you give a friend a gift card, they’ll be able to log in and pick a project in the community, age group, or subject that matters to them. Some of our current favorites? A middle school field trip to the Grand Canyon, a high school English class’ Holocaust-related lesson plan, and the excellently-titled student-led project Watch Me Read, Read, and Get an A, A!

  • Oxfam


    Oxfam is still the gold standard for fighting global poverty, and their holiday tribute program is organized so recipients know exactly what the impact of their gift is. Options range from very affordable (a blanket for $18, school supplies for $30) to very generous (safe drinking water for a village for $1,500, disaster recovery for $5,000).

Feeding America

Feeding America

There is probably nothing more precious (especially this time of year) than your time, which is why physically volunteering during the holidays is one of the most generous gifts you can give. Feeding America makes it easy to connect with soup kitchens in your area that need volunteers. (It’s great for slightly older kids, too.)


There’s something very personal and special about fulfilling the wish list of a family. Below, our favorite Adopt-a-Family programs in a few different cities; you’ll certainly pick up a few toys for the kiddos, but many families have more basic needs, like sheets, underwear, and winter coats.






CHLA: Supports families of kids who are patients at Children’s Hospital LA.

New York Cares: Partners with homeless shelters and other NY-based nonprofits.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors: Sponsors toy drives, too!

Heartland Alliance: Provides stuffed holiday stockings.

Salvation Army Texas: Sign up at the mall for a streamlined process