Cue Jimmy Durante (A Gift Guide)

Make (Bono) Happy, Just Make (Bono) Happy.

It is gift giving time. When people are faced with the oh so pleasant thought of buying a ton of stuff that may sit widely unused.  Like those sweaters that are knits only Bill Cosby could love. Why not try something different this year, and make sure your spending goes a little further, and has a greater return.  Ideally, it is an endless return –  the coolness of making someone smile, or feel like you know who they are combined the return of knowing any gift you give has larger impact combined with the impact of the gift.  Consider:

  • According to UNICEF and the WHO, 783 BILLION people in the world have no ready access to safe drinking water.
  • 85.4 percent of the world’s population lives in developing or underdeveloped economies.
  • Residents of more than 80 countries in the world live in conditions of either conflict or disaster, according to the UNDP.
  • John McPhee is not dead – save long form journalism.

Below are a couple of suggestions for different gifts and ideas beyond supporting PBS, NPR and your local public television and radio stations (though you can’t go wrong with these gifts either – music lover, check.)  Itunes offers philanthropic tunage as well.

The Sophisticated Traveler – I have aspirations to this, but am closer to the person walking through DC’s Union Station with my sneakers hanging off of a travel-scarred backpack, and bouncing against where the back of my shift is caught in my Spanx. (Sigh, true story)

  • Support a cool international development venture, for example purchase The Little Book of Kabul. It’s a compilation about the creative and cultural practices in Kabul, which supports photographers and writers living in Kabul. (Other amazing projects can be found on Kickstarter.)
  • The 7 Virtues perfume (available in person at Lord and Taylor) is a blend of essential oils sourced through fair trade from countries around the world whose population experience war and strife.
  • Mophie  Product (Red) – give life to your /their gadget through Mophie’s battery extending technology and by supporting the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
  • Or check out this ipad cover – it is genuine leather, and sustainably sourced and made in Ethiopia, supporting Ethiopian craftsmen as well as donating a portion of the proceeds to Oxfam, further supporting development.

The Fashion Conscious – Because Bono didn’t stop at Product{Red)

  • Edun – sustainable high end fashion founded with a commitment to encourage trade and development across Africa.
  • FEED – bags, sarongs and jewelry partnerships where a portion of the proceeds go to provide school meals, tuition or clean water to children around the world.
  • Jewelry for a Cause.
  • With an honorable mention to Toms, but shoes are a really hard gift to give.

The Sports/Outsdoorsperson

  • UnderArmour has partnerships with organizations like the Wounded Warrior Projects.
  • Lots of places like The North Face and Patagonia have products that support local or development initiatives.  Salmon Jerky, anyone?
  • Right to Play supports development and peace-making through play and also has an Ebay shop, which provides hard goods to give as well.
  • Do they run?  Buy an entry into a race/run for charity or cause, along with a water bottle from TAP or The Water Project.

The Literati/Illiterati in your life –  There are lots of great journals out there, preserving long form non-fiction and fantastic writing. Depending on what interest drives them to wonk out, there are also great deals.

  • The Laphram QuarterlyFor the history and literature and knowledge geek in your world.
  • National Geographic – Support The Society while supporting some of the best writers and photographers around.  So they can go do development projects like The Little Book of Kabul.
  • The Smithsonian – With this offer, you support the Smithsonian and get memberships.  That’s supporting 21 museums and galleries, plus a magazine. Plus discounts at the Smithsonian stores.
  • If Faulkner is more their thing, there is always the Oxford American.
  • Others to consider are: Granta, Guernica and The Daily Rumpus.

Even if you know someone who is dying for, say, the Frye Melissa boot or a new camera, you can support a lot of places.  Simply look for the Amazon logo on their site, click through to Amazon and purchase.  A portion of the purchase goes to the referring site. Also fair to mention: ETSY, Filanthropists, gift shops of charities and other npos.

Still need to pick up holiday cards? Lots of charities from UNICEF on have cards and packs.  Check out The Painted Box Project, which features the work of children who are patients at Roswell Park, one of the US’s most prestigious cancer research hospitals.  Portions of the proceeds go to various patient support groups.

If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.


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