Give Meaning To Christmas

It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holidays — especially since the decorations have been up in the malls since October. With top 10 gadget lists and “Best of 2007” offerings saturating the news, you can’t be blamed if you give in to the consumerism.

But there is a deeper meaning to the season. It’s about giving, and while you may be scrambling to find something to give that may just be regifted, why not look for a gift that will give meaning?

Tom Williams is the CEO of, an organization that helps coordinate giving and fundraising around the world with a unique spin on gift cards.

“It’s my solution to the ‘what do you buy someone for the holiday gift exchange’ problem. You know, the under $20 item that can be meaningful.”

By going to you can choose to buy a physical gift card which will be mailed out, or send an e-Card with a gift code attached. The receiver then takes this code and donates the balance to any of the charities which are meaningful to them.

“And the best part of it is, you get the tax receipt and they get the choice,” says Tom.

I’ve already picked up some of the gift cards which will find their way into my family’s stockings next week and the e-Cards have been sent to my geek friends around the world. is another website for giving this season where you loan money to an entrepreneur in the developing world.

You could choose Kayi in Togo. She’s looking to buy a rickshaw for her produce business. You invest $40 in her, which is paid back over a series of months. Once the loan is repaid, and 99.8% of Kiva loans are repaid, you reinvest that $40 in another entrepreneur, Armando in Ecuador who is trying to update the equipment in his bakery. Your one gift of $40 then can be spread around the world helping enterprising people.

“I like the idea of helping someone in particular, that I could see, that I could read about,” notes Oli, a Kiva investor from Bonn, Germany.

“I also like the responsibility of the borrowers. I enable them to achieve something, but it is not for free. They keep their “dignity”, a word I’ve stumbled across a lot here and I believe it to be true!”

[originally published in 24hrs Vancouver]

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