Making a Difference: Changing Gift Giving to Donation Giving

To Gift or Donate

There’s a growing trend among parents, engaged couples and folks from all walks of life, to replace traditional gift giving with gift donating.

From birthdays to weddings to graduations and more, people are requesting that their friends and families join them in supporting a cause rather than giving gifts.

Parents, in particular, are starting to re-evaluate the whole gift-giving ritual at children’s birthday parties. Bloggers are beginning to offer their fellow parents alternatives to the requisite birthday party gifts in favor of connecting kids to causes they care about and valuing the time spent together.

With some thought and care, you can make it easy and fun for parents and their children to connect with your cause while celebrating their special day.

Create Gift Packages

Rather than just a general donation to your cause, think about creating gift packages that people can purchase. Gifts that are specific and affordable are most likely to be appealing. You can create packages that one person can afford or offer packages that a whole birthday party can purchase together:

  • School supplies for 1 family
  • Sewing machine and training for 1 mother
  • 5 playground balls
  • Solar lanterns for 5 families
  • 5 fruit trees
  • Bed nets for a family of 4
  • Rescue shelter space for 5 dogs

Make it Fun to Donate

Parents already have a lot on their plates. If you make their lives easier, they’ll remember you. Provide ideas, tools and materials for creating a great party for their kids. In addition, the more you can connect the kids with your beneficiaries, the more they’ll remember you. Create a theme around your cause with fun projects kids will enjoy:

  • Provide ideas and instructions for decorating a donation box.
  • Offer materials for creating posters or cards the kids can give along with their donation.
  • Provide stories about the people or beings your organization serves.
  • Give the kids a way to share their stories with your beneficiaries—maybe they can send photos from their party or draw pictures about what they love about puppies, etc.
  • Create a costume theme so kids can dress up as superheroes to help your cause.

Say Thank You

Provide an easy way for parents to thank their guests for their donation. Maybe it’s a printable card they can include in the party bags. Or medallions the kids can string onto colorful ribbons. Or certificates the kids can color and glue onto card stock backgrounds. Be creative and brainstorm ideas. With a little ingenuity, you can help the hosts, the kids and their parents feel appreciated.

Honor the Gift

When a little girl shows up at your doorstep with her donation of items or funds, how can you make it a special occasion for her? Sometimes the simplest things mean the most. One police department pinned a medal on a 9-year-old boy for donating books to prisoners. Taking the time to listen to the child’s story, and why your cause is important to him, could be the best reward of all.

Other Occasions and Ideas

For weddings, think about providing elegantly printed thank you cards that the couple can share with their guests. For graduations, maybe your gift packages have a theme around education, employment or empowerment. What other ideas do you have for gift-giving occasions: bridal showers, baby showers, bar and bat mitzvahs, Christmas and retirement parties? Have you found some approaches that work better than others? We’d love to hear from you.

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