Last-Minute Gifts for the Golden Hearted

By Matthew Little
Matthew Little
Matthew Little
Matthew Little is a multi-media reporter for The Epoch Times.
December 18, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015

A girl in Malawi holds her gift of chickens. Fowl given to a family in a developing country can provide eggs or chicks, both good for food or sale. It could even be the beginning of a family business. (World Vision)
A girl in Malawi holds her gift of chickens. Fowl given to a family in a developing country can provide eggs or chicks, both good for food or sale. It could even be the beginning of a family business. (World Vision)
World Wildlife Fund, one of the largest and most influential conservation groups operating in Canada, is among the organizations offering this option.

WWF has had different gift options over the years. A popular one this year is letting people  "adopt" a cute stuffed animal. For $40 you buy the plush toy (there are 13 species to choose from) and give it to someone with a little card letting them know the funds will help conservation efforts in Canada.

But the day to guarantee delivery was yesterday and this option doesn’t have the kind of interactivity some recipients would appreciate.

Luckily, a visit to the “Unique Gifts” section of the online store will bring you to a page where you can buy a card for a whole wild world of choices.

These gifts range from $50 to $500 and let the recipient choose from nine efforts, like protecting vital rest stops for monarch butterflies on their migration to Mexico or giving tigers a “fighting chance” against poachers hoping to cash in on their parts.

Your credit card purchase lets you print off a personalized gift certificate that you can stuff in a card or have emailed directly to the recipient.

"That is a very good last minute option," says WWF spokesperson Ashley Brasfield.

If the person you are buying for is more interested in helping humans, you might consider a similar option from World Vision.

Inspired by its Christian roots, World Vision helps people around the world escape poverty or deal with disaster. It focuses on poverty and relief rather than religion and the group has come up with a truly inspiring catalogue of gifts.

Even better, most of the gifts keep on giving, like two hens and a rooster — a family of fowl that provide eggs or chicks, both good for food or sale. It could even be the beginning of a family business that World Vision says is ideal for single moms and children.

Like WWF’s certificate, the "World of Change Giving Card" is available through online purchase and you can either specify a date for the recipient to get the e-card in their inbox, or print it off and give it in person.
This is the first year World Vision has done the card, so orders take 6 hours to process. It’s not instant, but you can do it with a few clicks of a mouse and without scraping off your windshield for a trip downtown.

World Vision’s online catalogue is filled with heart-warming pictures of kids with their gifts. Like the little Mongolian boy, maybe five years old, holding a sheep that will give his family wool for warm clothing and protein-rich milk, not to mention fertilizer for their field.

“Sheep often birth twins or triplets, which can be sold for income or bred to produce a whole flock of woolly grazers," notes the catalogue.

Or the photo of young African boys running across a dirt "field" with huge smiles plastered across their faces.

“Across the world, children play soccer with makeshift balls of string and plastic bags. A real soccer ball is a rarity. Your gift of three soccer balls will bring shouts of excitement and countless hours of healthy fun for many children,” reads part of the description.

World Vision has also partnered with companies and national aid agencies to match some contributions many times over. The $35 contribution for winter clothes, for example, will be multiplied by six through donations from North American companies.

It is this interactivity that makes these gift cards truly unique. It’s a tangible experience that the recipient is doing something to help others.

Besides helping the children who get the gift, giving a child the e-card as a gift can help them understand poverty that is a world away and how they can help ease the suffering of others.

"Children always want to get involved," said Karen Flores, a spokesperson for World Vision.

Flores said many parents and teachers use the catalogue as a way to teach children about charity and why it is necessary.

While groups like WWF and World Vision are working to offer more choice, Canada Helps is offering a choice of charities.

A charity itself, Canada Helps is an innovative service that helps charities receive donations and offers givers a one-stop portal where they can donate to any of Canada’s 83,000 charities, from national groups like Sierra Club to your local food bank.

An added bonus for charities is that Canada Helps only charges a three per cent processing fee, an amount that is usually cheaper than what it would cost them to process donations themselves and issue tax receipts. This lets smaller charities achieve an economy of scale by outsourcing collections.

"It’s been very useful to all kinds of charities," said executive director Owen Charters, adding that many food banks rely exclusively on the service.

For donors, it also offers almost unlimited options for giving. They can donate part of their gift card to an international environmental group (like WWF), and the rest to a homeless shelter a few blocks away.

"It’s a lot more interactive and a lot more fun," said Charters.
Like WWF and World Vision, Canada Helps offers instant printable gift certificate that you can email to the person print off for a card.

“It can be an extraordinarily last-minute gift….you can do it at the very last minute, print and put in it their stocking the next morning."

Last minute charity gift cards could be even more attractive in these days of financial uncertainty and global food shortages. When the world is being pressed for cash, putting a bit more into the hands of the most needy might be the best thing we could do.

Fortunately for the needy, it looks like most Canadians agree. A recent Ipsos Reid poll found 82 per cent of Canadians will give as much or more to charity this year, in part because they know those in need will be suffering worse that usual.

And while the gift of giving isn’t supposed to be about what you get, Canadian law stipulates that whoever gives a donation is the one who must be issued the tax receipt.

This means you’ll be giving more to the needy and less to the government, which kind of feels good in its own right, some might say.

Matthew Little is a multi-media reporter for The Epoch Times.