Alternative options for Christmas giving

giving christmas
giving christmas 

When it comes to charitable donations you might think Australians have very deep pockets. After all, in 2012 we donated an impressive $2.2bn to good causes.

However, that figure pales against the $7.8bn we spent on Christmas gifts - that's over three times the amount we gave to charities in the entire year.  

While we love to spoil the people closest to us at Christmas, it can also be a time to make an extra effort to help those in need. Whether it’s supporting a local pet rescue service or reaching out to communities overseas, donating time, money or gifts makes giving at Christmas really special.

Here are some ideas for how your family can help others this festive season.

Volunteering

Most charities have a pressing need for cash but many also need help with on-ground support. If you don’t have spare money to give your time is just as valuable.

Australia has a number of organisations dedicated to recruiting volunteers for charities in need of extra people. GoVolunteer and Volunteering Australia both have easy-to-navigate websites that help volunteers find the right opportunity according to their skill set, interest and availability.

This Christmas you could:

  1. Help out at the Variety Special Children’s Christmas Party in Brisbane.
  2. Provide the gift of friendship to someone who is socially isolated in Sydney, via support group Compeer.
  3. Deliver toys and books for the Smith Family in Perth.
  4. Cook food on Christmas Day for the disadvantaged and disengaged on behalf of Laverton Community Centre in Victoria.
  5. Wrap gifts for disability services provider Minda in Adelaide.
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Monetary donations

It goes without saying that charities depend on public donations of cash - and how we donate has changed since the days when volunteers would rattle tin cans on the local high street. With the advent of new technology and innovative donation schemes, there are many different ways we can give money to the needy.

This Christmas you could:

  1. Download the GiveEasy app and make simple, streamlined payments to a number of affiliated charities.
  2. Make a family commitment to donate regular amounts throughout 2014. Small amounts of pocket money or loose change really can make a difference over 12 months.
  3. Make a direct donation through your favourite charity’s website.
  4. Commit to sponsoring a child in 2014. Organisations such as World Vision and The Smith Family facilitate sponsorship for disadvantaged children and may offer the chance to make a direct connection with your sponsored child.

Gifting needed items

Some people prefer to buy tangible goods to donate. This time of year provides plenty of opportunity to buy presents or basic supplies to give to families and organisations in need.

This Christmas you could:

  1. Drop a present under a giving tree. Kmart’s Wishing Tree supports The Salvation Army, and Target’s Operation Santa helps families supported by UnitingCare. Check the stores’ websites to find the nearest participating outlet.
  2. Log on to Givit and find out what specific items are needed by charities in your area.
  3. Buy a book or gift for a child to donate to The Smith Family’s Toy and Book Appeal.
  4. Help local branches of RSPCA by donating items from their wish list.
  5. Support the homeless by donating microfibre/polar fleece blankets or toiletries to Vinnie’s Vans.

Helping out with events

There are lots of events happening around the country this Christmas where you can give money or provide support through sponsorship and ticket sales.

This Christmas you could:

  1. Strut the Streets in your swimmers in Sydney’s CBD to raise funds for educational services for Indigenous students.
  2. Support children with blindness or low vision by joining in with Vision Australia’s annual Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne.
  3. Don a big beard and red and white suit in support of Variety’s Santa Fun Run in Brisbane.
  4. Rev your engines for Perth Bikers’ Charity Ride in aid of The Salvation Army Christmas appeal.
  5. Help local charities by visiting the magical Christmas tree forest in Adelaide’s Bonython Park.

Gifting both ways

When it comes to gift giving, you can select items which will also help other members of the community.   

This Christmas you could: 

  1. Buy from the SIDS and Kids Shop, which offers a wide range of products, including items for mums-to-be, baby clothes, toys, safe bedding and special keepsakes. A portion of the profits go to SIDS and Kids; until 15th December 15, you can use the code THANKS to get your order.
  2. Donate to those in need in the name of a loved one through a charity like Oxfam Unwrapped.Prices start at $10, which buys a family a South Africa a chicken, while a $39 goat for a family in Mozambique is a popular choice.   
  3. Help improve maternal health and early childhood education in indigenous communities through World Vision.  
  4. Support the RSCPA by buying a range of animal themed products - including calendars and diaries - through their World for Pets store.
  5. Order personalised Christmas cards, calendars and notebooks from Cards 4 Kids - Barnados Australia benefits from every order placed.