Making Charity Donations as Gifts: An Easy Guide to Holiday Giving

The best gift is giving back. Learn all the ins and outs of doing donations as gifts this holiday season.

Updated November 18, 2023
hands holding envelope

The holiday season is synonymous with gift-giving, but making a donation as a gift instead of buying something is more common than ever. Everything's gone up so much in the past few years that people are turning to less materialistic ways to show their love. If you're curious about getting into the giving spirit by gifting a donation, here's everything you need to know. 

Your Holiday Guide to Making a Donation as a Gift 

Changing things up from your normal traditions can always be nerve-wracking. Give yourself the ability to be free of worries this holiday season by learning everything you need to know about making donations as gifts. 

Pick the Perfect Charity

The most important part of gifting a donation is finding the right charity. Picking a random charity, although still a nice gift, may not mean as much to your loved one if it doesn't connect with them and their interests or values. 

When picking out a charity, here are a few things to consider: 

  • Find out what their volunteer history is. Is there a charity they have close ties to? 
  • Think about what issues they discuss or ones they advocate for. 
  • Think about issues that have personally impacted them or their loved ones.

4 Steps to Making a Donation in Someone's Name

Sometimes, having everything laid out in front of you makes the process much easier. So, if you're trying to donate as a gift for the first time, follow these handy steps: 

Step 1: Check in With Your Loved Ones

How a loved one responds to your choice to make donations as gifts shouldn't be a factor in whether you decide to do it or not. However, everyone deserves to be in the know, so it's important to check in with them about your plans. Don't just wait until after Christmas for them to reach out asking if or when you were sending/dropping off a gift. 

Step 2: Pick the Charity 

After you've done some thinking on that person and the causes they want to support, picking a charity should be easy. But, not every charity allocates all of your donations to their efforts, and you want to pick charities where your donations will go the farthest. Hop over here to learn what percentage of donations really go to charity.

Step 3: Make the Donation 

You can donate to most charities on their website using their donation links. They typically take credit cards, PayPal, or direct bank account transfers. Some, like Feeding America, even give you a gifting option with cards you can send to your loved ones. 

Need to Know

If you're making a large donation, ask for a receipt. Although you donated in someone's name, you can still use these donations on your own taxes. 

Step 4: Consider Making a Card to Announce the Gift 

Once you've made the donation and it's gone through, you might consider making a card to give to your loved one. You could include some information about what your donation is being used for (if you have access to that), how much you donated in their name, and a little note about why you chose that specific charity.

The Ins and Outs of Letting People Know 

Of course, the main element we haven't crossed yet that's involved whenever you do donations as gifts is the human one. From learning how to ask for donations instead of gifts to letting people know about the ones you've made for them, here are some simple tips. 

Festive Ways to Disclose Your Donation 

Like with any gift, you want to give your donation notice all the bells and whistles. Since you're not physically giving them anything, that makes your words all the more important. A few memorable ways you can let someone know about your gifted donations in a card or letter are: 

  • In the spirit of the giving season, I've made a donation to your favorite charity in your name.
  • I know how important giving back to the community is to you, so I've made a donation in your name to honor your generous nature.
  • I've made a donation in your name to [charity's name] to celebrate the spirit of Christmas! I know how much you care about [charity's main mission] and wanted to support your passion for [recipient's passion].
  • We've given our fair share of gifts over the years but we wanted to do something different this time around. Instead of a traditional gift, we made a donation to [charity's name] in your name. 
  • I'm trying to be more sustainable and didn't want to buy gifts just for the sake of buying gifts this year. So, I made donations in everyone's name, instead. Yours was to [charity's name] because I know you're a big advocate for [charity's mission]. 
Need to Know

Everyone might not be as receptive as you hope when they find out you're doing donations instead of gifts. It shouldn't dissuade you from your well-intended gift, but it's good to be prepared for all the possible reactions. 

Polite Ways to Ask for Donations Instead of Gifts 

Wanting to get donations in lieu of gifts is one thing. Letting everyone know not to buy you something is another.

Here are a few of the ways you can ask the people in your life to forgo the holiday gifts: 

  • This year, if you plan on gifting our family anything, we'd appreciate a donation made out to [charity's name]. This charity is close to our hearts and it would mean a lot to us if you donated to them instead of gifting us anything.
  • Instead of gifts this year, we're requesting donations made out to [charity's name].
  • This year I've been incredibly blessed and would like to spread my blessings around. If you're thinking about giving me a gift, could you please donate to [charity's name], instead? 
  • This year, I want to try and have a more sustainable Christmas. If you're considering getting me a gift, could you make a donation for me to [charity's name] instead? 

The Best Gift Is Giving Back 

Getting gifts is great, but giving them is even better. But you don't always have to give physical things. If you want to drop out of that consumerist race, try donating as a gift instead. 

Making Charity Donations as Gifts: An Easy Guide to Holiday Giving