Alternative giving - November December 2011

Here are some ideas to help you really make someone’s Christmas

As belts get pulled in even tighter this year, most of us will be giving our Christmas present list a trim and looking at imaginative ways to make our money go just that little bit further.

More and more charities are encouraging their supporters to buy an alternative gift – anything from a mosquito net or a chicken to a week’s worth of school dinners, or even the contents of a school classroom – for those who would otherwise go without.

And those who will be benefiting could be in a poverty-hit, far-flung part of the world, or closer to home in a deprived inner city area in the UK.

Instead of battling your way round the shops or going to your favourite online store for your pressies, here are five good reasons for buying an alternative gift this Christmas:


Find a charity or charities that produce an alternative gift catalogue. Request a copy or visit the gift section on their website. Your purchases can be made by phone, post or online. Simple.


Whether you want to spend £5 or £500, you will find something that will help someone.
Why not ditch the family Christmas tree presents or office Secret Santa this year and all pitch in to buy a gift that will bring cheer to an elderly shut-in, feed a hungry family or encourage the persecuted?


We’ve all given – and received – those presents that were funny or useful for five minutes but if we’re honest were a waste of cash. Buying an alternative gift means your money really will be well spent.


We all love to unwrap a present – and there’s no reason to stop exchanging gifts on Christmas Day of course – but maybe your Aunty would much prefer to know that you’ve contributed towards vaccinations for a child in Africa than that pair of Jingle Bells slippers that she’ll never wear.


In exchange for a small amount of money, you can put a meal on a table, give a hard-pressed carer a night off, or contribute to the health and wellbeing of an entire village. Now that’s got to be worth every penny.

How you can make a difference

A few ways to make your cash count this Christmas …

• A £10 donation to Barnabas Fund could provide a ‘gift of love’ in the shape of a 25kg sack of wheat flour to feed a family in Ethiopia for a month.

• £9 will enable Mercy Ships to provide UV blocking sunglasses for three people following precious eye surgery. For a copy of their Gifts of Hope catalogue go to

• A donation to Keychange will help the charity’s ministry Rahab to reach out to women involved in prostitution in the city of Plymouth

• SAT-7 broadcasts to remote areas, to people who are far from any church. Your £10 could help SAT-7 reach 10 people with God’s love. Go to for further information

• A financial gift will enable the Christian charity Crisis Centre Ministries to continue its vital work helping homeless and drug-addicted people in Bristol

• A gift of just £9 to Samaritan’s Purse International Relief will buy a Ugandan child a school uniform, paper, and stationery. For more ideas take a look at their Giving Catalogue at

• Click and donate online at to give a boost to Operation Mobilisation’s work helping to feed those in desperate need

• £10 will help St Mungo’s support a homeless person (and their dog) as they recover from the traumas of homelessness. Go to

• MHA provides housing and care for older people. A gift of £15 will buy plants for a sensory garden. Find out more at

• Have you a heart for the Middle East? Support MECO as they work with Middle Eastern churches and agencies to show God’s love to everyone in this region. For further details go to

• All charities appreciate regular donations. Christmas could be a good time to up your standing order if you have one. Or if you don’t often give to charity, find a cause close to your heart and give a monthly gift that will spread some cheer the whole year through.


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