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December 29, 2007


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Anne Melanson

GIVE Back, Reach Out and Touch Someone
December 29, 2007

Anne Melanson’s
Charitable Thoughts

If you’re like me, the shopping frenzy of the season has, by now, just about wiped you out. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I discovered the list of Christmas presents my son Jack had itemized for Santa. Nestled there, between the latest Magic Tree House titles and the Pokemon cards, was a request for $7,000 in cash.

Lots of people are looking for a new way to experience the spirit of giving this season. Imagine Canada tells us the charitable giving options for the holiday gift giver are expanding exponentially. Gone are the days when you were limited to purchasing a village goat or adopting an endangered sea turtle. This year World Vision’s Christmas catalogue boasts over 100 options for the online shopper. UNICEF, Oxfam, the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace are among a growing list of charities who present gift-giving options for people who wish to help those in need.

Increasingly, however, donors are looking for a more personal touch – and a way to ensure that their gifts, no matter how big or small, are having their intended impact.

Technology is connecting donors and recipients in profound new ways. Organizations like KIVA (www.kiva.org) allow individuals in developing countries, sometimes in need of only a few hundred dollars, to launch businesses to sustain their family, by introducing them online to millions of potential donors around the globe. The website provides a donor with a direct communication link to the recipient and a clear understanding of what exactly their loan will do for that recipient.

A local example here in Atlantic Canada that makes this direct connection is Work for Widows (www.workforwidows.com). This organization was set-up by a Bridgewater, NS couple to help victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. You can read their stories at the website and purchase handmade items to help these women become self-sufficient.

For those with an even greater desire to see the impact of their charitable deeds, GIVE International (www.GIVE.org) is a Canadian company that organizes experiences in developing communities for as few as three to four weeks. Instead of donating money to build an orphanage, GIVE’s donors actually help build it.

So, perhaps this year Jack would like to help me do some online shopping for some kids who probably don’t have any Magic Tree House books. Or maybe we can talk about what that $7,000 could do for people who really need it.

Anne Melanson is a partner of Red Letter Philanthropy Counsel Ltd. and has more than 20 years of experience in bringing together donors and charitable causes for world betterment. Reach her at www.redlettercounsel.com or [email protected]


Thank you, Anne. You took to heart the spirit of my post. There is little I can teach you about about package selling and the hawking of charitable gifts and services as if they were commodities. If you would be so kind as to leave a cut and paste version of your ad in every post on gifthub it will help us all create a better world.


Anne, I did delete the second posting of your ad, the one you left on "10 Ways to Interact with Gifthub. If you want to add it back, I would be happy to delete it again. In this way you can build good will for your charitable practice and confidence in you as an advisor. Remember, Always be Closing!

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