Inside & Out: Make a Difference this Holiday Season

During the holiday season, my husband and I make a donation to a children’s charity on behalf of our daughter.  As she gets older, we plan to include her in the process so that she also shares in the joy and satisfaction of helping others in a small way.*

As gift-giving goes into full swing, RebelMom readers share below their favorite charities that make a difference and ones they’d like you to consider including on your gift list. Other local initiatives to consider giving to are food banks, children’s hospitals, women’s shelters, senior citizen homes, homeless shelters, and secret santa programs for kids.

If you are concerned that your funds may not get to the intended recipient, organizations such as Charity Navigator (U.S.) give you insight on how funds are allocated within your specific charity. It also has a Top Ten List of organizations to choose from.

Most of the not-for-profits below can issue gift cards for donations, which make great presents for those family and friends who have everything!

*This article was originally featured in 2010 and recently updated.

Doctors Without Borders, USA (MSF)

Nurse in Nasir, South Sudan - Photo by Sven Torfinn

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent, international humanitarian organization that provides emergency medical aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care.  It currently operates in more than 60 countries worldwide.

“Support from individuals is essential to our ability to operate independently, and to respond at a moment’s notice to the most urgent emergencies, even in areas farthest from media attention. MSF’s decision to intervene in any crisis is based solely on our independent assessment of people’s needs.” – Jennifer Tierney, Development Director, MSF-USA

Charity Navigator Rating: 4 out of 4 stars Website:

Habitat for Humanity

100 Houses Built in 5 days in Lonavala, India - Photo by HFHI Steffan Hacker

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit,  ecumenical Christian housing ministry that aims to “eliminate poverty housing and homelessness around the world.”  It builds home for families, who pay for it with interest free loans. To date, the organization has built over 300,000 homes providing shelter for more than 1.5 million people.  Local residents help identify those most in need for housing and assist in the construction and fund-raising.

Charity Navigator: 4 out of 4 stars Website: www.


Kiva recipient Sophea Chum in Cambodia – Photo by John Briggs

Kiva helps facilitate microloans between lenders and entrepreneurs, many who live in the developing world.  Since its inception, Kiva has issued over $100 million USD in microloans.

Lenders can choose which entrepreneurs to fund and then receive updates on how much of the loan has been repaid.  Once a loan is repaid, you can invest in another worthy entrepreneur.

“Through, people around the world can become micro-bankers to developing world entrepreneurs, who have their own ideas, so we can give them a chance to raise their kids with dignity, send their kids to school, and in troubled places like Afghanistan we can marginally increase the chance that peace can prevail, because people will see there is a positive alternative to conflict.” – President Bill Clinton

Charity Navigator: Not Listed       Website:

Partners in Health

Rehab facility in Haiti - Photo by David Walton

PIH works in 12 countries around the world to provide quality health care to people and communities devastated by joint burdens of poverty and disease. While it aims to strengthen and complement existing public health infrastructure, it also assists in community development, education, sanitation, food, shelter, clean water, and economic opportunities. PIH was also one of the first organizations in the world to provide free comprehensive HIV treatment and prevention services to those living with the disease in developing nations.

“At its root, Partners In Health’s mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Rwanda, or rural Haiti falls ill, Partners In Health uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services. Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.” – Partners in Health Vision Statement

Charity Navigator: 4 out of  4 stars Website:

6o Minutes TV segment on PIH and Founder Paul Farmer

Room to Read

Nepal Girls' Education program- Photo by Nabidita Shrestha

Since its inception, Room to Read has provided better access to education to more than 4 million children. It focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in countries, such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia. It has built over a 1,000 schools and 10,000 libraries around the globe.  It’s aim is to “develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.”

Charity Navigator: 4 out of 4 stars Website:

If you don’t see your favorite charity included, please post it in the comments section.

More Suggested Not-for-Profits: online store sells handmade items made by women who’ve survived domestic violence in Nepal. The organization is more than just a museum. It’s also provides a home for landmine-affected children and at-risk youth. The Disability Research and Design Foundation bring together creative, technical and legal experts to help create facilities and institutions that are more inclusive. The organization is currently refining and upgrading facilities which serves children with disabilities in Pune, India. gifts of livestock and training, Heifer projects help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. Heifer refers to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. adopting her son in South Africa, Amy Stokes was shocked to see hundreds of children who had lost their parents to HIV and Aids. With so many orphaned children and so few adults to raise them, Amy recruited a few like-minded people and launched Infinte Family an online mentoring program. See RebelMom feature on Amy Stokes. An American organization that wants to ensure that no child in the U.S. grows up hungry.

This entry was posted in Gift Guide, Inside & Out and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Inside & Out: Make a Difference this Holiday Season

  1. Pingback: My Heroes: You are Never Too Old to Make a Difference | RebelMom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>