Making donations to charities in lieu of giving gifts has become common practice for many people.

Large organizations such as Oxfam and UNICEF have seasonal campaigns where you can “buy” gifts such as goats, books, and bicycles for communities in developing countries in the name of a loved one. The community will receive a goat, for example, and your gift recipient will get a card or a token gift.

While not all friends and families appreciate the concept of giving a gift to someone by giving a gift to someone else (George Costanza, for example, is not in favour of it), if your friends and family are comfortable with the practice, consider donating to one of the Yukon-based non-profits who are doing good work in needy countries.

These small organizations are run mainly by volunteers and have minimal administrative costs. For this reason, they can guarantee that your donations go directly to the projects for which they are intended. They can also give you a personal perspective on the work their organizations do.

Swaziland Educational Trust Society

This organization has been sponsoring children’s education in this tiny southern African country for close to 10 years. In 2013, SETS sponsored 21 children, all known personally to the society director, Whitehorse resident Reverend David Pritchard.

Reverend Pritchard lived in Swaziland for 15 years prior to establishing the charity.

SETS commits that 100 per cent of all donations go towards the school fees, school supplies, uniforms and transportation costs of the children under sponsorship. Donations can be made through the website www.Anglican.Yukon.net/SETS.

Fair Aid Society

Since 2007, this organization has been providing essential health care to vulnerable and marginalized people in some of the poorest communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The society operates three clinics, one of which was rebuilt in the past few years for the modest sum of $10,000 and now serves a population of 5,000.

This Christmas, donors can choose between two fundraising initiatives. The first is a project to install solar panels on the outpost medical clinics, which will require a total of $3,000 per clinic. The second is weekly radio broadcasts, which would deliver health information to more than 100,000 people via an interview-style lesson. The 30-minute radio spots would air in French, Swahili, and Kibira, the tribal language, and cost the organization $65 each.

Fair Aid Society will issue a thank you card for any donation, and can assure that all donations go directly to these initiatives. Donations can be made at CanadaHelps.org, or through the local contacts found at FairAidSociety.org.

Little Footprints, Big Steps

This organization provides shelter, food, and education to children in Haiti who cannot safely live at home, or do not have homes.

Donors can choose to fund a specific cause, or give to a specific child or family. The organization provides a wide range of support, from livestock to literacy tutoring, to house repairs.

If a person has a particular passion, donors can mention that interest while making a general donation and Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS) will ensure the donation is directed to that area. For example, a music lover can direct their donations towards a drum-making workshop for traumatized children.

General donations will help fund schooling for over 120 vulnerable children.

LFBS provides a personalized thank-you card to give in place of a traditional gift, along with a drawing from a Haitian child.

Donations can be made via the website LittleFootprintsBigSteps.com, or on CanadaHelps.org. Donations can also be arranged through the local contact Karen Wienberg (KarenWienberg@gmail.com).