The Gift that Keeps Giving!

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!

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:

Grassroots Initiatives:

These are smaller more targeted initiatives started by friends or acquaintances.

Hands on Volunteers

Hands on Volunteer in Haiti - Photo by L. Keil

Friends of friends in the British Virgin Islands formed Hands on Volunteers shortly after the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. Its focus is on helping two children’s homes, CHRICHA Field Camp (12 children aged 5-14) and CAMITA’s Children’s Home (12 children aged 1 month – 5 years), in Tabarre, a suburb of Port au Prince, Haiti.

The group sends money regularly to cover housing, food, medical attention, and wages for 2 caregivers. It also visits the children every 3 months bringing food, medical care, shelter, clothing, and school supplies.  All funds and donations are strictly used for supporting the two homes. The organization is made up of volunteers, who cover their own expenses to travel to and from Haiti. For more information, visit

Green Children’s House Foundation

Green Children's House Foundation Voluteers in Haiti

The Green Children’s House is a Montessori School in Broward County, Florida that my daughter attends. The Foundation, a registered non-profit,  is an extension of the school and has been active in Haiti since the earthquake. Initially it assisted in stabilizing the General Hospital in the country and providing emergency medical treatment, clean water, emergency supplies and food to approximately 2,000 Haitians.  Currently, it is looking to establish a school for the children of “Canape Verd” tent city in Peintionville, Haiti. Its long-term goal is to create a model of sustainable schools in the nation.  All proceeds are used to build the school in Haiti. The organization is made up of volunteers who cover the cost of travel to and from the country. For more information, visit or

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. An American organization that wants to ensure that no child in the U.S. grows up hungry.

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6 Responses to The Gift that Keeps Giving!

  1. Peg Thompson says:

    While reading this article today, it made me decide to do this for each of my grandchildren as part of their holiday gift. Thank you for the article.

  2. Thara: Great list – thanks for sharing. Several terrific charities here. I launched a social-media project with PIH and have been very inspired by the work they do. Our project is listed at – an attempt to get those turning 40 to help the people of Lesotho, where life expectancy is less than 40.

    cheers, sree |

  3. Thara Pillai says:

    Great idea! Thank you for sharing Peggy.

  4. Thara Pillai says:

    Sree, Thank you for sharing your experience with PIH. It was your Gift of 40 initiative that motivated me to include them!

  5. Pingback: gift ideas for your mom, sister, and bff! | RebelMom

  6. Pingback: Holiday gift ideas for the men in your life. | RebelMom

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