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How to simplify charitable holiday giving

The holidays put many of us in the spirit of giving, but it can be hard to sort through all the various options and means to help the charities and causes we care most about.

Maybe you want to give a little extra to make the holidays brighter for others, or maybe you want to make a donation in the name of that friend or relative who has everything.

Charitable donations are understandably popular at this time of year, but they're not always easy or seamless. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to integrate charitable giving into your regular shopping routines. Here are a few of the best:

Buy4 is a shopping portal that lets you donate a portion of your online purchases from hundreds of different outlets (including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and other heavy hitters) to the charity of your choice. More than 1.5 million charities are currently listed, so the hardest part may be deciding which most deserves your goodwill.

Auction addicts should check out BiddingForGood, a portal for charitable auctions. Thousands of items and experiences ("Breakfast with Larry King," anyone?) are available. It's easy to browse by charity, location, and more, and 91 percent of the money raised goes directly to the charity. There are some amazing, unique lots available, and the karmic bonus could make your gift even more memorable.


If you're not quite sure which charity would be best, consider JustGive. It offers gift cards that let your giftee select from nearly 2 million charities online. You can customize the look of the cards or just send an e-mail with a donation code. It's easy and painless.

It's not quite the same as a donation, but Kiva does great work helping disadvantaged people worldwide start small, sustainable businesses. Giving friends or relatives a Kiva investment draws them in to the giving process, letting them pick from thousands of borrowers to start and then again and again when the loan is repaid. The cliche "the gift that keeps on giving" has never been closer to the mark.