Great holiday gift: an education

*This blog and any posts related to the Razoo fundraising widget I’m promoting to raise funds for Girl Up are my own, and not on behalf of my employer. However, the funds raised WILL support that campaign, which I work for.

It’s that time of year: the Christmas shopping commercials, the inundation of emails asking us to give online or to visit the eStore to purchase holiday gifts from Nonprofit X or Retailer Y. And yes, I’m putting out an ask as well, but hey, it’s what I do – I work in the world of online communications and fundraising. I wrote before about supporting the campaign I work for, Girl Up, through a new online fundraising widget from Razoo, and we’re having a friendly competition between some of the ZooGooders over the next week in the spirit of the holiday giving season.

Donate to Girl Up via Razoo!So, with that in mind, here’s the thing: new fuzzy socks or a DVD are fun stocking stuffers, and it’s nice to watch someone open a new Wii or a beautiful coat, but what about how you feel inside when you give the gift of an education to a girl? What about what the girl feels when she is given the opportunity to attend school, to have a chance at life?

Photo: Girl Up

That’s what thousands of girls in Malawi need – a chance. They need to go to school, they need a health care clinic to visit, they need programs in their communities that provide safe spaces and mentors and life skills. So I’m asking you to forget the trip to Target, skip the Amazon deal, and instead, give a High Five or more to Girl Up – right now.

And then, ask your best friend and your niece and your mom, and your grandma and your uncle, and your teacher, and your neighbor to give as well. Because every $5 can change a girl’s life – and the effect will be much more lasting and significant than socks or a DVD.

Give a High Five right now to Girl Up and change a girl’s life.

Giving back doesn’t have to mean $$

“Giving back” is the new, sexy buzz phrase these days – EVERYONE wants a piece of the philanthropy pie. It’s on the nightly news broadcasts, in every blog, and if you work at a non-profit like me, everything you do is about giving back.

But I noticed that “giving back” often has the same connotations as shopping for the best Christmas presents – how much money can I give and to how many organizations?

To me, giving back isn’t about racking up a list of the 10 charities you made a donation to – because then it ends up reading like your other shopping list: “Oh, I saved a child for $15 here, bought a water jug for $5 there…” When I think about giving back, so many “old-fashioned” methods come to mind. Here are a few I like:

  • Cooking dinner for your local fire/police station (the firefighters by my parents’ neighborhood have come to love our Cajun dishes)
  • Instead of stuffing last season’s coat/scarf in the back of the closet – donate it to a shelter
  • Bring old blankets and towels to an animal shelter
  • Hand someone walking in the rain your umbrella
  • Pick up an extra latte for your door man/woman, front desk person, security guard, etc.
  • Offer to walk the dog/cook/pick up the mail/go grocery shopping for your elderly neighbor
  • Mail a holiday greeting card to someone who isn’t expecting it
  • Drop off lunch for someone with a busy schedule
  • For book lovers, make homemade bookmarks with their favorite quotes and photos on them (I did this for my dad – he loved it!)
  • Call someone you love – even if they were supposed to call you first.
  • Loan some of your favorite books and movies (happy, comforting ones!) to a friend who can’t make it home for the holidays
  • Tell the people in your life that you love them. Works every time.

What are some of the ways you are giving back this year?