In 1942, Britain’s Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) worked to bring food to women and children behind a World War II blockade of Greece. Today, Oxfam International is a confederation of fifteen organizations that fight poverty across the world. In the United States, we can help the local branch of Oxfam by purchasing charitable gifts through Oxfam America Unwrapped (http://www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com/home.php). Print a card or send an email notifying friends that you have donated in their name a goat ($50), a school desk and chair ($35) or materials to start a vegetable garden ($30).
Do you have friends who devote inordinate amounts of time to FarmVille or Mafia Wars? They need real money to buy premium “virtual” items to add to their online worlds. Why not give the gift of a Zynga game or e-card that your loved one can exchange for FarmVille cash and coins? These are available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
In an interesting twist, Zynga has made it part of its mission (through Zynga.org) to allow users to donate to charity through buying virtual goods in its games. In the last two years, the company has funneled over $1.5 million of user donations to relief efforts in Haiti. It encourages players of YoVille to support the San Francisco SPCA buy buying virtual animals at Pete’s Pets. Participants in FrontierVille can contribute to Water.org to bring fresh water to people in Africa, Asia, Central America, and Haiti. Zynga even helps U.S. tornado victims.
Zynga Game Cards
Susie Dashiell, Assistant Director of the Retreat at Church Ranch Assisted Living in Westminster, Colorado, says, “I believe that one way to keep my elderly friends healthy and happy is to stay needed in the community.” To that end, she supports her residents as they sponsor children in Africa and Central America, bake cookies for a local food bank, send popcorn balls to soldiers in Iraq, sew quilts for an AIDS orphanage in Africa, and raise money for a school in India.
Heifer International Gift Catalog
At the holidays, Susie’s charges enjoy honoring their loved ones with the gift of charity made in their name chosen from the Heifer catalog. “They use the money that they raise from bake sales to buy chickens and goats for women in Africa. I think you can also help to build wells.” Givers can send “honor cards” as gifts via email or print them out.
I’m preparing my annual tax forms, staring at my donation receipts for gifts to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. I gave them a lamp, a camera, books, and several bags of clothing. What are their fair value as tax deductions?
The Salvation Army thoughtfully offers a suggested range of tax-deductible values for the used goods that we give to charity.