Charitable Giving This Holiday

This holiday we're not just trimming trees, we're trimming our holiday shopping lists, too. Whether we're crossing off relatives we rarely see, or just buying for the kids, we can all agree that this year we're giving a little differently. With an economy this tough, we might not be able to be as generous as we'd like, but it's still possible to give to those truly in need. If you want to do good this holiday without doing in your bank account, here are some useful and economical ways to contribute to some great causes, as well as some inspiration from the iVillage community.

Do your holiday shopping online and let AidMaker donate a percentage of your purchases to a charity of your choice at no extra cost to you. Download the free program and stretch your dollar further without overspending. With help from almost a thousand participating stores -- from Apple to eBay to Starbucks -- and people like you, AidMarker have already raised over $650,000 for worthy causes.

More than half of Americans can't even remember what they received for the holidays last year. This year give them something more memorable and make a real difference by giving a gift in a loved-one's name to a child or family in need. For as little as $25 you can give the gift of two chickens, whose eggs provide a lasting source of nutrition and income. From preventing malaria, to sending a child to school, even a small budget has the power to work miracles this season.

The holidays are about children and The World Wildlife Fund's animal adoption program is a great way to share holiday joy with a child in need while supporting the environment. Your charitable gift to a conservation program for endangered wildlife now includes the donation of a plush animal toy to a disadvantaged child.

Perhaps you want to take this opportunity to support a cultural foundation that you or your loved-ones utilize throughout the year. By making a contribution to public radio, a favorite museum, park or community program, you can give back to the services you enjoy. Shop museum gift stores or catalogues -- like the New York Botanical Garden store -- where proceeds help support the organization and you'll find great gifts for the people in your life who support the arts.

Need some more ideas for your charitable giving? Check out GiveSpot's top-rated charities. GiveSpot ranks the organizations based on efficiency and transparency, so you can give with peace of mind.

Of course there are thousands of great organizations that depend on your generosity this time of year -- and you may already have a favorite you support regularly with your time as well as your wallet. However you decide to give back this season, check out these smart charitable gift-giving tips to make sure you get the most bang for your philanthropic buck.

Happy giving,
Rachel

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