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Giving as a Gift


This holiday season, instead of giving traditional gifts, complete with gift receipts, wrapping paper and frilly bows, consider giving the gift of charity in honor of a loved one.

Donating the money you would have spent on a gift to an organization that reflects the interests or passion of a family member or friend is a gift that not only has lasting importance for your loved one, but it also has a lasting impact on the community.

Combining gift giving with charitable donations is a great way to give charities the opportunity to extend their services, making our world a better place for all of us to live.

Giving a gift of charity can take many forms. Some organizations have online stores or catalogs set up that allow you to donate toward a certain item or need. Oftentimes, nonprofits send a special notecard for you to give to the recipient, letting them know the details of the cause. Gift registries and wishlists are also a great option for those who prefer to request gifts of this nature for birthdays, weddings, holidays, or anniversaries.

Organizations, such as GiveMN, even provide gift cards to make gift giving stress-free. The GiveMN giving card is easy to use and allows you to give a charitable gift in an increment of your choice. The recipient can then choose where to spend the donation by selecting from thousands of nonprofits on

It’s important to dig a little deeper to ensure your gift will be meaningful to your loved one AND used responsibly by the organization of your choice.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What causes are important to your loved one? There are numerous nonprofit organizations engaged in a wide variety of causes and activities. As you try to decide which one to choose, think about what your loved one’s interests and passions are. Just as you would try to find a gift that appropriately suits your loved one, choose an organization whose mission and activities align with his or her interests.
  • How will the contribution be used by the charity? There are many organizations that have similar missions, but carry out their programs very differently. Knowing how your contribution will be used can help you to decide which of those charities will be most appropriate for your gift. For example, if you have a loved one who cares deeply about feeding impoverished children, some organizations use your gift to sponsor a specific child, while others may pool the contributions received to strengthen an entire community’s infrastructure. Both models of support improve the lives of children in need, but be sure to read the fine print to confirm exactly where your donation will go and what impact it will have on the community to ensure you honor your loved one in the way you intend. 
  • Is the charity trustworthy? It is important to do some research before you make a donation in honor of your loved one. Not only do you want your gift to be meaningful, but you also want to be sure that your contribution will go to a charity that is legitimate, accountable, and trustworthy. Check out our list of the Most Trustworthy Nonprofits to see if the organization meets the standards of the Charities Review Council.

As you start your holiday shopping, keep in mind that giving the gift of a donation to honor your loved one is a wonderful way to redefine the meaning of ‘gift giving’.  It is a unique and meaningful gift that helps those in need and has lasting impact – all it takes is a little bit of thought and research.