Give Back Gifts

Tis the season for gratitude, and we’re grateful for the give back gifts that offer sustainable options to help others, support good causes and let us skip long lines.

Support Heifer International which provides animals to promote sustainable farming in Peru and elsewhere. Photo by Pierre Ferrari.

Put one of these give back gifts on your holiday list. Accelerate the journey towards a more sustainable future this holiday season.

Fund Wildlife Conservation around the World

A friend whose daughter is in love with snowy owls discovered that the Sierra Club offers snowy owls and bison among their collection of virtual animal adoptions ($49 and up often includes a plush toy). Discover your own adoptable tarantula or honey bee. If you can’t choose, let the next family vacation drive the decision. Protect an armadillo, for example, if you’re heading for Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Explore opportunities to help protect other endangered animals with the World Wildlife Fund. In addition to research, they sell wonderful gifts that give back. For $25 and up, your family funds a Symbolic Adoption that helps conserve an elephant, polar bear, tiger, orca, panda, snow leopard or other species. At the $60 level and higher, WWF will send adorable plush replicas of the adopted animals.

The koala population has been declining in Australia due to the loss of habitat, bushfires, disease and domestic dog attacks. Fortunately, Koala Conservation Australia Limited of New South Wales rehabilitates these cute animals when they’re found sick or injured. Their Adopt-A-Wild-Koala e-program starts at A$50. Donate a bit more (A$80 for overseas families) to receive a story about your specifically chosen koala, a booklet about koalas and more. If you’re on your way to Australia, select an ‘Exhibit Koala’ so you can visit them in the hospital. Adoption money helps treat and rehabilitate koalas with the goal of releasing them back to the wild.

Koalas for adoption at Koala Hospital in Australia
Adopt one of the koalas recuperating at Australia’s Koala Hospital and keep up with its progress.

Give Back Gift to the Oceans

Adopt a sea turtle or manatee — or an Orca, for those who think big. It’s the ideal gift that gives back to marinelife lovers and the world’s oceans. The non-profit organizations that raise money by selling symbolic adoptions run many real life events and educational programs year round.

Adopt-A-Sea Turtle gifts animal lovers with a personalized Adoption kit and plush toy ($56) from the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Once adopted, follow the turtles they are tracking by satellite. Plus, teens may be interested in opportunities to volunteer in Costa Rica or Panama as a research assistant. The STC has done this important work for more than 50 years.

Why not Adopt-A-Manatee for just $25? Save the Manatee was co-founded by the late Jimmy Buffett, singer, songwriter, marine life activist and hotel owner, who championed their cause. STM also promotes sustainable and eco-tourism events around central Florida. At many of their programs, see the creatures up close. You may even meet your adoptee.

Washington state’s Adopt-an-Orca program is run by the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands. Select the Orca of your choosing from the three pods living offshore. Invest $50 and up per year to find out how they’re doing and learn much more about this unusual breed. Contributors get a free yearlong membership to the museum and 10% off at their gift shop.

Support People’s Lives with Gifts that Give Back

Oxfam aid worker supplies water to child
Oxfam donations cover the essentials that help others invest in their own family and community.

Support nonprofit groups whose work represents an incredible give back gift for all ages. Recipients say that even a greeting card with a powerful story is well worth receiving.

Oxfam America is a nonprofit organization committed to ending the injustice of poverty. At Oxfam, make a donation to fund the purchase of any number of items. Your $60 gift trains a local volunteer to be a community health care worker. Fund the construction of an emergency toilet for $250 or give $510 towards a cash-for-work program for six months. Recipients receive an e-card describing the contribution.

Heifer International is charitable organization that donates livestock, poultry, agricultural products and more to support people around the world. Their online holiday marketplace is also full of hand-crafted ornaments and toys (from $15) and sustainably farmed items. Hear moving stories about donated heifers ($500) that helped families build new houses, sheep ($120) that provided warm coats for children in winter, and a flock of chickens ($20) that fed them. Partial contributions from $10 and up are pooled with others to fulfill these needed gift items and to support educational programs in lesser developed regions.

Kids to Kids Direct Giving

South American farmer with daughter and heifer.
Farmer Miguel Catota Sillo shows off his milk producing dairy cow from

Help your child give a gift to another child through Save the Children, for an incredible bonding moment. Choose from an online catalogue of ‘gifts’ ranging from $15 (one soccer ball) to $2,000 for hospital essentials including sterilization materials, cleaning supplies, blankets and fuel for generators. This charity lets you focus your donations on relief and emergency funding, at home or overseas.

Support many other worthwhile groups in person by signing up your family for a volunteer vacation next year. Read our “How to Volunteer” guide before planning that special trip.

Give Back Sites & Auctions for Good

To raise money for a variety of causes, upcoming projects, and non-profits, the online auctioneers at Bidding For Good can’t be beat. Schools, youth groups and other non-profits use their Commerce for Charity system to upload donated Major League Baseball tickets, Paris walking tours, collectible Barbie dolls or Amazon gift cards so everyone can take part in the worthwhile bidding process.

Want to give back with your child through a family donation? Among many sites out there, the educator-founded allows families to pick what type of school project, field trip, sports team, activity or need they want to support. Search together through the collection of actual requests made by teachers around the United States.

Don’t use this holiday to give another unwanted gift that will soon be forgotten. Instead, help a good cause and let your child (or your nanny, or your neighbor, or your boss) take part in a kinder world.

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