“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.” ~ Edward Everett Hale

Remember, December is a very good month for pitching in to help the community – something, incidentally, that it has in common with the other 11 months.

Donate to your favorite charitable group online through CharityWatch. Make a quick and secure donation without leaving your chair. Of the over five-hundred charities currently rated by CharityWatch, only a select number qualify for the listing of Top-Rated charities based on rigorous analysis. You can browse for groups, or search for a group or cause you support.

Send a check. If you don’t have a credit card, or if you just feel more comfortable signing your name on your donations, post a check to your favorite community group. Many charities hold appeals in the lead-up to Christmas and appreciate any gift, no matter how small. Many groups will also happily take credit card donations over the phone. Take the time to tell them why you’re donating. Ask them where your donations will be used.

Ask your friends to give money, not presents. If you’re one of the many people who already has most things they need, ask your friends not to give you a Christmas present this year but instead donate the money to a charity you nominate. It’ll make for a more meaningful Christmas than another pair of novelty socks or set of hankies.

Get your kids involved. Talk to your kids about scaling back your own family’s Christmas present-giving to one gift per child. Encourage your children to think about the community groups that make a difference in their lives by donating a few coins, or by doing a few jobs around the house in exchange for a donation to a group. Ask them to pin-point toys they have outgrown that they would like to contribute to a community group that works with children, or that can sell the toys to help fund their work.

Swap gifts for donations. Instead of giving out Christmas presents yourself, make a donation on your friends’ behalf to an appropriate charitable cause. Give your friends a card telling them that you have made a donation and provide the receipt. Again, the benefit will last longer than a pair of socks, a packet of soaps or box of chocolates.

Sponsor an endangered animal. Tragically, more and more of our unique fauna around the world are becoming endangered. Icons like polar bears, panda bears and koalas are just some of great creatures are under threat from disease, introduced species or diminishing habitat. Consider sponsoring an animal through the World Wildlife Fund.

Buy your presents from a local charity or community group.
Many local groups and schools hold fairs offering a wide range of goods. An increasing number of groups sell goods online. Buying your gifts from a community group store can help to make them even more meaningful.

Buy a “present” for an overseas effort.
Oxfam, Samaritan’s Purse and Heiffer International are three of a number of groups which offers donors the chance to buy a “gift” for its overseas projects, and to make a difference. Some of the projects include the provision of mosquito netting, literacy skills, a small business loan or even a goat!

Buy a present for your pet.
Organizations like the ASPCA offer all sorts of presents for a beloved puss, pooch or … parrot. Why not buy a gift for your furry, feathered or scaly friend and raise money to help animals all over America.

Give to or set up a charitable foundation. Giving to an established charitable foundation can be a great way to make a difference to your community. Generally, foundations allow you to ‘add’ your donation to an existing pool so collectively you have a bigger impact than giving individually. Meanwhile, setting up your own foundation means you can grow the amount that is available for giving to charity every year. GiveBack offers a unique way to getting the most out of your charitable life by creating your own free foundation – it’s like having a charitable savings account.

Buy an extra present.
Buy an extra toy or present this Christmas and put it in the collection box at your local shopping centre, office or church. Many department stores, such as Kmart, Walmart and Kroger collect presents to be distributed to disadvantaged groups by community organisations.

Give the planet a present; go green this Christmas.
Visit the DailyGreen and see how you can tread lightly on the earth this Christmas.

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