For the last few years I have made a $100 donation to the National Arbor Day Foundation to help restore the rain forest in Central America, instead of sending out Christmas cards to my selected 100 people. This usually costs me $1 per person plus postage if any, and more than half of these go to people at my work. I made up postcards that read:
That's a great idea! With the cost of postage rising, the postage costs more than the greeting cards themselves. I am very active in supporting animal shelters so I usually tell people that want to give me a birthday/Christmas gift to make a donation to their local animal shelter on my behalf, I would really appreciate it.
You could donate trees in Israel, too. I don't know the cost.
Israel donate trees if the web site I mentioned does not fuction.
While I think donating is a wonderful thing, I don't think making donations in someone else's name counts as a gift. Unless you are making a donation to some cause that has some meaning to the recipient (i.e. you really had to put some thought into your recipient and you made the donation because you knew it would make them happy), then all you are doing is making a donation and announcing it.
If you don't want to spend money on people, then simply don't do it, but don't use the donation as an excuse for not giving them any kind of gift. Real giving isn't about money, so not having it or giving it away to charity is not an excuse for not giving to others. Rather than advertising your good deeds, your postcards would be a real gift if you instead wrote to let the person know how much they mean to you, to wish them well, to make them laugh, or to share some news and to keep connected.
check out www.donatetrees.org also. I donated to them because they are very transparent and they have a good mission. I thnk it's a great idea to give people the gift of a tree. With donatetrees.org, each tree will actually get posted with a photo on the website, so it really will feel more like a gift.
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