The holiday season is underway and many of us are starting to focus on buying gifts and organizing family reunions. As Christmas Day approaches, thoughts become more and more occupied with getting that last important gift or buying that last ingredient for a favorite holiday dessert. According to a recent Gallup Poll, the American citizen expects to spend an average of $786 this Christmas, up slightly from last year’s estimates. In addition, 30% of respondents said they plan to spend $1,000 or more this year.
But aside from their importance to retailers, these predictions also show how important Christmas is in American culture. But what could this caliber of spending do for world issues? It has been estimated that all it would take to eradicate world hunger completely is $30 billion every year, a figure that could easily be reached every Christmas season if a percentage of holiday spending were diverted to the cause.
1. UNICEF United States Fund Donations to this branch of the UN would make an impact for poor and malnourished children around the world. You can choose to make regularized monthly gifts or a one-time gift. Money goes toward vaccines, emergency relief, and new opportunities for education.
2. Books For Africa Perhaps consider giving a Christmas gift to African children. Giving just 50 cents provides a child there with a new book. According to its website, this organization sent 2.2 million books to Africa in 2012, and you can donate to help them send more.
3. Against Malaria Foundation This foundation fights malaria worldwide. Donations go toward the purchase of nets that protect against infectious mosquito bites. Nets cost $3 each, and to date it has raised $21 million and bought over 6 million nets.
4. Give Directly This organization was founded by students at Harvard and MIT. It allows people to donate on the web, and then the organization finds a needy family in Kenya and sends the donation to the family’s cell phone. According to their website, many families there own cell phones, and for those that don’t they provide solutions. Over 92% of funds donated go directly to Kenyan families.
5. Oxfam America This organization is part of the larger Oxfam International, which works in many ways to end wrongs and problems worldwide. The entire organization works in over 90 countries and has 17 branches. It is involved in a variety of areas, including disaster relief, microfinance and aid efforts in Sudan and Syria.
6. Proven Impact Fund This fund is part of Innovations for Poverty Action, an organization founded by scholars who conduct research on the best methods of helping the poor. Money donated to the fund goes to programs that the IPA has found to be reliable and successful based on its research. According to its website, all of your donation goes to these programs. Funds are also given based on what needs are most pressing around the world at a given time.
7. The Hunger Project This program seeks to end hunger in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. It focuses on building self-reliance in the poor and also on helping women. It works in microfinance, safety and nutrition for mothers and children and HIV/AIDS, among other areas.
– Sarah Wieberdink