Looking for unique holiday gifts or end of year ways to be charitable? Giving back is one of the most important things we can do during the holiday season! Check out these 5 ideas for thoughtful gifts that help make the world a better place without the accumulation of more “stuff”.

This list is only a guide—there are many amazing organizations out there to support and I recommend using CharityNavigator.org, a respected source for researching and evaluating charities. If you have a favorite group or suggestions for ones to add, make a comment and share! Keep in mind that many employers, like Microsoft, offer donation matching, which can really make your giving go a long way!

1. Make a donation that supports our outdoors.
Last year I profiled 18 organizations (6 national and 12 local to Washington State) that support our trails, promote outdoor stewardship, and conserve our wild places. It’s our duty as outdoor adventurers to give back to the trails we love and support our beautiful outdoors!

2. Give the gift of agriculture.
For most people in developing countries, agriculture is still the main source of generating income and meeting basic human needs. Heifer International is a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities.

Browse their gift catalogue for unique ways to make a difference. Consider donating a goat or even a flock of chicks!

3. Fund a loan for a low-income entrepreneur or student.
Kiva is a 501 non-profit organization that allows people to lend money via the Internet to low-income entrepreneurs and students in over 80 countries. Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.”

Make a future entrepreneur’s holiday dreams come true with a Kiva card.

4. Make a donation to an international aid group.
Donations to aid and relief organizations help unlucky and often impoverished people facing recent natural disasters and other hardships.

Make someone’s holiday a little brighter with a donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, Save the ChildrenUNICEFDoctors Without Borders, or the World Food Programme.

5. Adopt an animal.
Love wildlife? Oceana is the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization and the World Wildlife Foundation is one of the best known and leading wildlife conservation groups.

Choose a wildlife adoption or other gift through Oceana or WWF in someone’s name.

This holiday season, make your purchases count and choose to support globally conscious companies.

If you do make purchases this holiday season, strongly considering supporting companies with an emphasis on corporate social responsibility like Tom’s, Cotopaxi, or Patagonia, who use their profits for good. Remember that we can all make choices that make this world a better place to live!

Happy holidays and happy giving!

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