Five Charitable Causes That Need More Help During the Holidays

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

During the winter months, charities need extra assistance as they work with the challenges of cold weather and the holidays. These five causes need additional help right now, and can do more with your donations of supplies and money.

1. Children

Low-income and foster kids have an especially hard time during the holiday season, when a lack of money can mean no Thanksgiving or holiday meals, and no toys under the tree.

How you can help

2. Animals

This time of year, many animal shelters are overrun with animals, and, cold weather means they face even more challenges. .

How you can help

3. Hunger

In a season that revolves around food, charities that help the hungry are stretched to fill food packages and supply meals.

How you can help

4. Homelessness

The homeless need extra care during the freezing-cold winter months. Help them stay warm and provide the basic necessities.

How you can help

5. Disaster Recovery

Many victims of recent natural disasters lost all their possessions and may have no place to live during a time of year that should bring comfort and joy. Give them a reason to smile this season by helping them recover.

How you can help

Donating supplies may seem like a great idea, but an influx of tangible items is often difficult to handle and to deliver after a disaster, when systems are overtaxed. Donating money is a better choice and allows nonprofits working in the area to provide what survivors need most—even sourcing items locally that can help rebuild their economy.

Donate money to help survivors recover from:

This holiday season, put your money in the hands of the charities making a difference for these pressing causes. That creates a happy holiday for you and for those in need.

Three Meaningful and Unique Father’s Day Gifts

image source: flickr
image source: flickr

Fathers are notoriously hard to shop for. They usually don’t need more ties or another coffee mug, and after a few years, even the latest gadget feels, well…uninspired. So what can you buy for dad that will touch his heart? Is there a personal gift that says thanks and shows him he’s taught you what’s important in life?

Check out our Top 3 most thoughtful Father’s Day Gifts that give back. . . and give Dad a gift that changes the world!

ONEHOPE Wines

Does your dad love wine? We recently discovered ONEHOPE Wine and fell in love. ONEHOPE has a partnership with Robert Mondavi and donates half of their profits to charity. To date, they’ve donated over $1 million to their partner charities for a variety of causes, which range from autism to animals. Send your dad a bottle directly from ONEHOPE, or sign him up for their wine club. Too close to Father’s Day to have it shipped? You can also find ONEHOPE in stores like Whole Foods and Raley’s.

(RED) Campaign Apple iPods

Go (RED)! In case you haven’t heard about the campaign: (RED) was started in 2005 by Bono (of U2) to help end the AIDS epidemic in Africa. There are many (RED) products, which donate a portion of their proceeds to AIDS charities working in Africa. Since it takes only 40 cents a day to keep someone living with HIV in Africa alive, one purchase can make a big difference. Check out their online assortment for men, or visit retail stores like Apple and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Father's Day Charity Gift Guide

Or skip the retail hassle all together, and give directly to his favorite cause. JustGive has many gift options that make charitable giving (and receiving!) a joy. Our new Charity Gift Guide has 12 tangible and “manly” gifts of charity, so it’s easy to find one that fits your Dad. For example:

Another great option (besides donating in his name) is a personalized charity gift card—upload a special photo of the two of you and have it delivered to his email inbox. (You can even schedule it to arrive on Father’s Day!) You choose the amount, he chooses the charity to support.

Dads may be hard to buy for, but that doesn’t mean you need to settle for a boring gift. These are our three favorite inspired ideas. For more, see our Great Charitable Products guide on Pinterest. (And don’t forget to follow us!)

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

The World’s Best Mother’s Day Gifts

Great Gift Ideas for Mother's Day
image source: Flickr

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and if you’re like me, you haven’t gotten a gift for your mom yet. If you’re waiting to find just the right gift, look no further – we’ve got six great ideas you’ll love.

First, something we’re very excited about: our new Mother’s Day Charity Gift Guide.

Filled with 12 tangible gifts of all sizes, our Charity Gift Guide has great options for your mom: feed an abandoned puppy or kitten ($20), help survivors of sex trafficking ($50), and more. Check out the Charity Gift Guide for more charitable ideas that are sure to touch your mom’s heart—and make a difference in the world (like she’s done in yours).

Help young girls become strong women

If something from the Charity Gift Guide doesn’t fit well for your mom, here are five more suggestions that surely will. Check out these other thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts:

A small gift and a big gesture

The best gifts for Mom show you care – so get her a small gift, and make it part of a bigger way your express your appreciation. To inspire you, here’s are five of the Best Mother’s Day Gifts:

5. Offer a helping hand

Has your mom been asking you to help her with the computer, paint the house, or organize the garage? If so, Mother’s Day is a great occasion to actually do it. Making her life easier is a great gift. If your mom isn’t the type to ask for help, think of things in her life that are giving her grief. Can you remove the spyware on her PC? Teach her how to Skype? Send the family photos to be digitized? There’s a whole world of ways to make Mom’s life a little brighter.

image source

4. DIY a special book of memories

My friend Mary recently put together a book of photos and memories for her mother. What a great idea! Two thoughtful options: A book capturing her life (photos of childhood to current day) or a book of your history together (your birth to today). You don’t have to be crafty to make something special – use Blurb.com to easily create a custom photo book (just allow a couple of weeks to receive it from Blurb). Then sit down and go through it with her on Mother’s Day. She’ll love the trip down memory lane.

3. A spa day and nice family dinner

For a mom that doesn’t have time to herself very often, give the gift of a massage or a facial. While she’s out getting pampered, get in the kitchen and cook her a delicious  meal (and I mean cook – the effort you put into it means a lot more than a dinner out, even if you’re no gourmet chef!). Have a beautiful table set to enjoy it with her when she returns.

2. Show your support for what she cares about

What causes are close to your mom’s heart? If she loves animals, make a donation to an organization she cares about and take her to play with the pups at your local humane society. Is she passionate about the environment? Why not create a charity “gift basket” of four charities that work for her cause, and organize a beach cleanup of her favorite spot? What Mom doesn’t love seeing evidence that you’ve actually been listening when she’s lectured you about what truly matters? 😉

image source

1. Quality time

For people like Anneka (a friend of ours on Facebook), the best gift for Mom is time – her mom always asks to go on a hike with her kids. Making memories and having a close relationship – isn’t that what most mothers want most? Make a date to spend time with your mother doing something she loves this Mother’s Day – organize a hike, take her out for lunch, or go to a movie she’s been wanting to see.

Unfortunately, my mom lives in another state (just for now, though, right Mom?), but this Mother’s Day she’ll be receiving something extra special to show just how much her daughter and her granddaughter both love her and appreciate all she’s done for us–especially in the past few months.

What are you giving your mom this year? What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever given or received? Share it in the comments below, or post it on our Facebook page!


– Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

5 Simple Ways to Make Your Holiday Giving Green

image source
image source

The holiday season can be filled with a lot of waste—in fact, according to Green Christmas, Americans throw away an average of two billion extra tons of garbage per week during the holiday season. In addition to the added trash, there’s also the stuff you keep but don’t really want (think about the quesadilla maker or ugly Christmas sweater you got last year).

Here are a few tips to make your holiday season more eco-friendly.

1) Use reusable shopping bags while shopping.

A few months ago, San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags went into effect, and shoppers now have to pay an extra 10 cents for every bag they take from retail stores. This will help eliminate some of the 3.8 billion bags used by myself and other fellow Bay Area residents each year. While your city may not have a legal ban on retail shopping bags, you can make a difference by yourself by bringing reusable bags with you for all your holiday shopping (these are my favorite—a gift from my mom last year!).

Eco-friendly gift wrap

2) “Green” your wrapping.

During the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday, Americans throw away 25% more garbage than they usually do, according to Green Christmas. Wrapping paper is often not recyclable, because it includes non-paper additives (such as gold & silver coloring, glitter, or plastics), and is laminated or dyed. It also usually has tape on it, left over from the gift wrapping. Give your gifts beautifully and sustainably by wrapping in recycled newspaper (comics work great), old maps or pages from an atlas, gift wrap saved from previous years, or these gorgeous fabric gift wraps. Or use colorful tea towels—they become an extra part of your gift.

3) Request alternative gifts

If you know that you don’t need any more stuff (that is, if you’re like me), why not ask your friends and family for something else? I set up a charity registry this year, and so can you. It’s a great way to raise money for your favorite organizations. Another idea is to ask people to donate items to needy families, or give to local shelters instead of buying a gift for you.

contigo reusable coffee mugs

4) Give eco-friendly items

Help your loved ones consume less throughout the year by gifting eco-friendly, reusable items. Looking for some great ideas? I love these paper towel alternatives. I bring my no-spill stainless steel coffee mug every time I get coffee, saving countless to-go cups. Or, help reduce plastic water bottle consumption by giving a great glass water bottle.

5) Give less “stuff”

Our consumer-based culture has a devastating impact on our society and our environment. For more about this, check out The Story of Stuff. You may be surprised by what you discover!

Instead of giving a physical gift and adding to the stuff in the world, give the gift of charity. It’s a green gift that makes a positive difference.

JustGive’s charity gift cards are a great option—you can choose the amount of the donation, and your recipient chooses the charity. We also offer unique charity “gift baskets” of four charities working toward a common cause (there are 16 to choose from that help animals, children, seniors and more.). Or, you can select a gift from the Holiday Gift Guide and make a donation in your loved one’s name. Each gift in the Guide shows the impact of your donation, making gift giving fun and inspiring. 

Give This, Not That

What’s your best or most unusual green holiday tip? Share in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook!

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager 

5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

Five Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

It’s already begun: it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and the holiday season is everywhere. Babies R’ Us was playing Christmas carols last week, and Target has the candy, decorations and gifts out in full force.

I find it a little bit exhausting, don’t you?

My goal for the holiday season is always the same: Simplify. This year I’ll be sharing how I do this, right here on the JustGive blog. For me, a big part of creating a simple and meaningful holiday season is about redefining the season itself—which means less stuff. With less stuff, I feel less stress.

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to bring meaning to the season is to give back instead of giving “stuff.” Here are five ways to give back this holiday season, taking the stress out of gift giving and making you (and your recipient) feel warm and fuzzy inside:

1 — Create a Charity Wishlist

Create a Charity Wishlist

I started working at JustGive earlier this year, and was thrilled to learn about Charity Wishlists for the holiday—it’s a totally new concept to me. As much as I love the thought behind gifts, I really don’t need anything. By creating a Charity Wishlist, I can raise money for my favorite charities instead of receiving gifts from my family and friends. And that makes me feel better than any piece of jewelry or retail gift card ever could. Here’s my wishlist for the season—check it out, and consider creating one of your own!

2 — Give Gifts of Charity 

Charity Holiday Gift Guide

This year at JustGive, we’ve created an exciting new Holiday Gift Guide to make giving more meaningful. It’s filled with charitable gifts that show you the impact your donation has on the world. Choose from 12 of the timeliest issues, including hunger, job support, LGBT rights, and peace—there’s a gift for every budget.

3 — Give Charity Gift Cards

Charity Gift Card for Holiday Gifts

Charity Gift Cards are perfect for someone you might not know that well (a holiday gift for a co-worker, for example), for a friend or family member who has a charitable heart, and for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list. You choose the amount for the gift card, and they choose the charity (or charities!) to receive the donation. There are email, print-at-home, and physical cards – and more than a million charities on JustGive they can donate to.

One of the coolest features (in my opinion) is the ability to buy your gift cards ahead of time, and then schedule them to be emailed whenever you’d like.

Another fun option is to upload your own photo, making for a very personal gift.

4 — Give a Charity Collection

Charity Gift Basket

If you know someone who cares about a specific cause, a charity collection is a unique and great gift. Each collection includes four charities working toward a particular cause. There are 16 causes to choose from, including Animals, Arts, Education, Homes & Jobs, and Military. Check them all out here. 

5 — Share the Message

Tell a Friend
image source

What better way to create a more peaceful, simple holiday season than to get others involved too? After you make a commitment to help others this holiday season, spread the word to your friends and family. You can start a new tradition and include charity as part of your gift exchanges.

You can also join JustGive in the #GivingTuesday movement, which counters the consumerism and commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’ll be offering an amazing deal to help you give more generously, too—so check JustGive on November 27 or sign up for our newsletter to hear all about it.

How will you celebrate the holiday season? Do you incorporate charity or volunteering? Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook!

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Straight from the Source: My Father talks about Father’s Day


image sources: author’s personal collection

My father is notoriously hard to buy gifts for. I’ve tried everything from homemade artwork to pruning shears, and …well, it always seems to fall a little flat. At the end of the day, these gifts are “stuff,” adding no value and more clutter.

This year, I’m embarking on a personal campaign: getting rid of the “stuff” in my life and only holding onto things that bring joy or provide purpose. With that commitment, what kind of daughter would I be if I gave my dad yet another picture frame—thus adding unwanted clutter to his life?

Giving a good gift isn’t easy, though, so I went straight to the source: I asked my dad what he would actually like for a Father’s Day gift.

As it turns out, my dad had the same problem with his father. “I used to buy him ugly ties because I didn’t know what else to get him,” my dad told me. “Giving gifts has certainly been the tradition, but…” He trailed off. I asked him if he thought the tradition should change, and I swear I could hear him nodding through my phone.

He told me the most thoughtful gifts he can remember involve quality family time. He talked about a wine-tasting trip to some local wineries, followed by dinner in the wine country. “That was great,” he said. “I think any gift of something a Dad likes to do (and the family agrees to) is the best.”

So there you have it, folks: quality time. Don’t live close enough to make that happen this Father’s Day? My dad said a meaningful card is a no-brainer. To give it more purpose, I’ll be slipping a charity gift card into mine this year.

Ask yourself what your father (or the man who mentored you like a father) truly cares about and enjoys doing. My dad obviously loves wine. What about yours? Share your comments and best ideas below, or post it on our Facebook page!

– Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

JustGive’s Top 5 Most Thoughtful Mother’s Day Gifts

Image Source

For the first 27 years of my life, Mother’s Day was about giving gifts. Artwork when I was very little, handmade cards when I was a little older, and a nice pair of earrings as an adult.

I’m now a mom myself, and as I’m sure many new mothers can attest, giving birth often comes with a sudden sense of “OMG Mom, I totally understand every single thing you ever said to me.” We mothers truly feel every bit of the pain (and the joy) our children experience, in addition to a near-constant worry. This is both exhausting and an incredible blessing.

Here’s what I realized during my first Mother’s Day as a mom: while I’m sure my mom loved the earrings I got her, Mother’s Day is about appreciation, not about gifts. Motherhood is an amazing but often-thankless journey that involves a lot of sacrifice . . . and Mother’s Day is one specific day a year set aside to show her how much we appreciate all she has done for us.

A small gift and a big gesture

The best gifts for Mom show you care – so get her a small gift, and make it part of a bigger way your express your appreciation. To inspire you, here’s our countdown to a few of the Best Mother’s Day Gifts for 2012:

5. Offer a helping hand

Has your mom been asking you to help her with the computer, paint the house, or organize the garage? If so, Mother’s Day is a great occasion to actually do it. Making her life easier is a great gift. If your mom isn’t the type to ask for help, think of things in her life that are giving her grief. Can you remove the spyware on her PC? Teach her how to Skype? Send the family photos to be digitized? There’s a whole world of ways to make Mom’s life a little brighter.

image source

4. DIY a special book of memories

My friend Mary recently put together a book of photos and memories for her mother. What a great idea! Two thoughtful options: A book capturing her life (photos of childhood to current day) or a book of your history together (your birth to today). You don’t have to be crafty to make something special – use Blurb.com to easily create a custom photo book (just allow a couple of weeks to receive it from Blurb). Then sit down and go through it with her on Mother’s Day. She’ll love the trip down memory lane.

3. A spa day and nice family dinner

For a mom that doesn’t have time to herself very often, give the gift of a massage or a facial. While she’s out getting pampered, get in the kitchen and cook her a delicious  meal (and I mean cook – the effort you put into it means a lot more than a dinner out, even if you’re no gourmet chef!). Have a beautiful table set to enjoy it with her when she returns.

2. Show your support for what she cares about

What causes are close to your mom’s heart? If she loves animals, make a donation to an organization she cares about and take her to play with the pups at your local humane society. Is she passionate about the environment? Why not create a charity “gift basket” of four charities that work for her cause, and organize a beach cleanup of her favorite spot? What Mom doesn’t love seeing evidence that you’ve actually been listening when she’s lectured you about what truly matters? 😉

image source

1. Quality time

For people like Anneka (a friend of ours on Facebook), the best gift for Mom is time – her mom always asks to go on a hike with her kids. Making memories and having a close relationship – isn’t that what most mothers want most? Make a date to spend time with your mother doing something she loves this Mother’s Day – organize a hike, take her out for lunch, or go to a movie she’s been wanting to see.

Unfortunately, my mom lives in another state (just for now, though, right Mom?), but this Mother’s Day she’ll be receiving something extra special to show just how much her daughter and her granddaughter both love her and appreciate all she’s done for us–especially in the past few months.

What are you giving your mom this year? What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever given or received? Share it in the comments below, or post it on our Facebook page!


– Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager