Gift Guides, Money, Now + Beyond

Here’s a different way to give with your wallet for any holiday season.

Don’t need any more gifts from Aunt Carol that you won’t use or wear? Try asking for something else.

If there’s a time to rally up some money, what better time than a season of giving!?

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of giving and receiving material things, but taking a step back to acknowledge who could use more financial support in your community or around the world, can reel you back to what’s important. 

I grew up in a typical Atheist American family who celebrates Christmas solely as an excuse to get family and friends together and of course to make my great grandma’s famous fudge. We were always big on gifts, but over the last few years we’ve minimized the material things and encouraged a different way for everyone to give with their wallet. Growing older, more financially stable and understanding the value of quality time has shifted to wanting and needing less as the gift-giving holidays roll around. 

Now, my family members and I exchange our lists with at least three organizations or charities to donate to, who are working hard to do good in the world. 

If you can’t afford to give back with your own buck you can make it known to your family and friends how important it is for them to donate on your behalf instead of receiving a gift. Giving people a reason why specific charities or organizations are important to you makes it feel more personal and can also help your family and friends better understand you and your own personal values.

This might be a given but start by finding things you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s helping animals, keeping the arts alive, supporting after-school programs, park and nature conservation, tech for youth girls, news websites, police brutality resistance, LGBTQIA groups, or combatting homelessness.

Obviously, it’s so important to be involved, participate and show up in your community but this can also be an easy way to better get to know your community, what’s going on and the support that exists.

For instance, some charities I choose to support are:

Girls on the Run Bay Area. Running has been a huge part of my life since I was 12. It has taught me so much about myself and has been such an outlet for my anxiety and mental health over the years. It’s always been about so much more than just running, so I found this non-profit program that works to encourage pre-teen girls and show them just that. It aims to show them that community, self-respect, and confidence can come from running as well as an empowering and healthy outlet.

Living in a city that supports and encourages the exploration of my queerness has been such a gift in and of itself. Transgender Law Center is the largest trans-led civil rights organization in the United States and its headquarters resides in Oakland, California. I know there are people who are working hard for LGBTQIA spaces, support, rights, and resources and this is my small way of giving back. Transgender Law Center  “employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.” An organization that feels deeply important and necessary to support.

I’ve also always been creative at heart. Writing, painting, dancing and just the arts, in general, have been some of my greatest joys of life. However, many different cultures tell us the arts are not important or valuable and have decreased,  been eliminated or even banned from schools and after-school programs. In many forms, art has helped me express my inner self. I want to be a part of the movement that shows youth and adults how the arts are equally as important as math and science and have every right to stand tall in school curriculums. Youth Speaks is “One of the world’s leading presenters of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs.” It’s an organization I choose to support for its strong belief system “that literacy is a need, not a want,” aligning with my own.

So start there, something that’s personal, something that makes you excited and hopeful. It will take you much further than the amount in your bank account. Giving with your finances to charities and organizations you believe in and are passionate about can provide time for you to better understand the mission of the groups and all the awesome things happening around you. It also can help us all veer away from the hype of material things and create space for a richer holiday.