3 Non-Material Gift Ideas That Give Back

Christmas is only a few days away (eeeek!) and more than likely, you've been swamped with gift guides and sales and are just about "shopped out" for the season. Or, maybe you're one of the last-minute shoppers who hope to gather some quick inspiration for meaningful gifts that won't end up in the garage sale pile after a few months. We have four words for you: gifts that give back.

Whether you're simply a pro-procrastinator, a minimalist when it comes to gift giving, or you've been waiting for "just the thing" to give your loved ones, we have a few ideas that won't add clutter to anyone's lives and, more than that, can actually change a life. 

Non-material gifts don't get the hype that they deserve for a few reasons- they can't be unwrapped or placed under a tree, and to some (young kids especially) they seem like a bit of a letdown, compared to the thrill of a fancy, new gift from your wish-list. 

However, we are huge proponents of choosing at least one gift that gives back for someone on your list this year- regardless of their age or the length of their wish-list. Non-material gifts, things like sponsoring a child's education, providing water to areas who don't have easy access, or even a simple donation to a social enterprise or non-profit that the recipient values, can be life-changing. 

Non-material gifts don't always get the hype they deserve, but whether its for your child, a relative, or your best friend, choosing to give them a gift that gives back will keep the holiday cheer going long after the presents are unwrapped.

Here are a few of our favorite non-material gift options that will continue to make an impact long after the craze of the holidays has passed. 

1. Sponsor A Girl's Holistic Education

There are lots of amazing social enterprises out there making a difference in children's education all over the world, but, of course, we're partial to our sweet girls in Mozambique. During our #IStandForGirl's campaign, we raised funds for school supplies, tuition, and transportation to school for more than 100 girls. Our current holistic education program provides the same girls with access to empowerment programs, after-school tutoring, health education, and more.

Sponsoring a child's education is the perfect gift for children and adults alike: it presents the perfect opportunity to teach a child about their ability to help others, and open their eyes to issues that many other kids, just like them, face every day. 

To sponsor one of our girls via a monthly (or one-time) donation, click here!

2. Volunteer Together in Your Community 

Another more "hands-on" idea is to donate your time, volunteering at a local homeless shelter, charity, or other socially conscious organization. Not only is it healthy to spend time helping others, but it can make a needed difference in the lives of people in your community. 

You could visit a local senior center together, to sing Christmas carols, decorate cookies, and spread cheer. Or, you could send holiday cards to prison inmates, those in pediatric hospitals, or hospice care. 

This idea is a very inexpensive way to give back on a personal level to those who don't have access to their normal holiday traditions and may feel isolated during the "most wonderful time of the year". Usually, the smallest gifts have the most impact. 

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3. Donate to A Cause You Both Care About In Their Name

Less specific than sponsoring a child's education is making a general donation to a non-profit or social enterprise making changes in the world that you (and the gift-ee) care about. It can be an anonymous donation or, better yet, a donation in their name, to encourage them to follow along with the progress of the organization to see how their gift made an impact.

Do you both care about the global water crisis, environmental sustainability, women's rights, or education? Find a cause that the giftee is passionate about that you can stand behind and choose to donate to the cause on their behalf. 

If you're passionate about women's rights and girls education, click here to support Kurandza. If you're passionate about other causes like economic development, agriculture and food sustainability, or water, health and sanitation, check out Global Dream Collective's list of favorite organizations making a real difference in the world. 


Gift giving doesn't have to be complicated or cluttered. Whether it's for a child, an old friend, or a distant relative, giving a non-material gift in honor of a cause you support is a gift that will keep on giving all year long.