Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Stumped by Holiday Gifts? Donate to Charity in Someone’s Name!

With the holidays just around the corner, there is no doubt that thousands of consumers are running around anxiously trying to make the perfect gift purchase for friends and family. It’s already the second week of December and admittedly I have not ONE gift purchased. I was not daring enough to brave the crowds on Black Friday and have come up empty handed in the past two trips to the mall I’ve made – this puts me in quite the predicament.

Choosing the perfect gift is a daunting task…what if the person doesn’t like it, what if they already have this, what if this doesn’t fit? These are all questions that every gift giver must entertain and frankly it takes the fun out of holiday gifts. It is the thought that’s supposed to count right? Well this year I am strongly leaning towards alternate gift ideas for my friends and family, and apparently so are many other Americans.

Donating to charitable causes takes the guesswork out of holiday shopping!

Donating to charitable causes takes the guesswork out of holiday shopping!

Liberty Mutual recently conducted a survey looking at the trends of holiday gift giving. The survey found that many Americans are refocusing their 2010 gift giving habits towards charitable causes rather than physical gifts. So, instead of buying that funky sweater for Aunt Sue that you know she would like (but quite frankly shouldn’t wear), why not donate to a charity in her name instead? Donating to charitable causes takes the guesswork out of holiday shopping and is actually a proven gift that many enjoy. In fact, 81 percent of Americans appreciate this method of giving rather than receiving physical gifts.

Short on cash? No problem. Instead of making a monetary donation, you could donate some TIME by volunteering at a local charity. Alternative gifts such as cash donations or volunteer hours are going a long way this Christmas and are quickly gaining in popularity. Four in every five American adults prefer when a donation is made to a charity of their choice rather than receiving a gift!

Many corporate donations are in the works for the 2010 gift giving season. One of the largest scale donations is being orchestrated by Coca-Cola. Coke is encouraging its users to donate their My Coke Rewards points to generate gifts for underprivileged children. Users can log onto to donate their points by entering the codes found on 13 various Coca-Cola products. Toys for Tots will then be able to turn these point donations into toys for children. This is an easy way for Coca-Cola fans to participate in holiday giving at a fairly easy and economical fashion. In addition to the point accumulations, Coca-Cola is also donating $120,000 to the Toys for Tots foundation which span across 8 different US cities. There will be a collection of five holiday Coca-Cola Caravans that will drive cross country spreading cheer to children and adults while making their $15,000 donation at each of the 8 locations.

Citibank is another corporation making an effort to spread some holiday cheer. Citi is offering a Holiday Rewards program that allows its users to enter to win a prepaid Citi rewards card for up to $10,000. The company recently launched this commercial which not only conveyed their rewards program but also highlighted the importance of spreading the wealth this holiday season. Take a look, I loved this commercial!

Do you agree that donating time or money to charity is a heartwarming holiday gift for friends and family? Have you ever given a charitable donation in someone’s name?


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. PMO

    George Costanza has been doing this since 1997. Truly a man ahead of his time.

    The Human Fund!

    • QLP Jill

      Hahaha! How could anyone forget the Human Fund! 🙂 That reminds me of the Elaine-Christmas-Photo fiasco, too…Seinfeld is so bad ass.

  2. Donation Station

    Shannon, I read this SAME research the other day… And I find it FACINATING that:

    “Four in every five American adults prefer when a donation is made to a charity of their choice rather than receiving a gift”

    … but the cynic in me immediately started to think, sure, when/if put on the spot who would NOT answer yes to this question? I bet the 1 guy who said no during this survey felt pretty stupid when he answered, but he/she was also probably the ONLY person being TRULY honest.

    I mean no person in their right mind is going to say no, I’d rather line my pockets with cash than help a good and worthy cause… Mr. 1 out of 5 was the only person who had their mental filter turned off at the time of this survey – JK!

    Don’t get me wrong, I do like helping a good cause or charity here and there, and I also would prefer a donation to be made on my behalf over another fruit cake or pair of pink bunny slippers, but darn-it – I would sure rather have a shiny new auto-graphed Bears mini helmet than a card saying I saved some insect in a far off land from going extinct! 🙂

  3. Cybernetic SAM

    This is a fantastic POST! I have been begging my family for years, instead of gifts get a year-long donation to charity or foundation in someone’s name. That way you are not only giving a gift to one but many! I heard of this amazing foundation that you buy a plot of land in a 3rd world country for dirt cheap and the native people who can’t afford to farm and own land, it is given to them for 1/3rd of the cost and they are basically your tenants and this gives a family an opportunity to work, eat, and feel independent. This is something our country has long since forgotten, instead of giving a new Xbox or flatscreen to someone why not really enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping the world! 🙂

    You could always give the gift of well being to others too. In other countries most don’t have fresh water – donate and build a well in someone’s name and help an ENTIRE village!

    The Water Project

    Develop Africa Foundation

    • Stantz

      Does this mean I’m NOT getting a new Xbox or HDTV from you this Christmas!? :p

  4. QLP Jill

    I’m right there with you! It’s so frustrating to spend hours or days picking the “perfect” gifts for family and friends and then find out that they A) already have it or B) don’t like it and want to return it. Holiday donations are thoughtful and they help people who truly need it!

    Awesome commercial, by the way! I hadn’t seen that one until today. I wish more ads would encourage goodwill like that…there’s one DSW commercial on TV this season that I absolutely HATE. It features a shoe that goes up to another shoe’s doorstep and sings a carol about how much their gift sucked and how they should have bought a DSW gift card. What a crock of crap! If someone did that to me I’d never buy them a gift again…it’s basically encouraging greed and ungratefulness.

    Anyway, sorry for the tangent there. Great post, great commercial! 🙂

  5. Tony Promo

    I agree that this is a wonderful idea! It gives people the opportunity to take a step back from all the holiday shopping hoopla and once again realize what is truly important. As mentioned in a previous blog, it seems like the “holiday spirit” of giving that I remember as a kid has been replaced by wanton consumerism. I could personally care less if I didn’t receive a single holiday gift, but would be MORE than flattered by being given the gift of a charitable donation in my name… even if it was a mere $20 bucks.

    This is a great idea and hopefully will gain steam as we approach the end of December! Awesome post Shannon!

  6. JJ "Suite G"

    Charity is definitely the most ethical first step in overcoming the materialism of the holidays, but I’m pretty sure that my mom still expects me to get her at least a scented candle or something. She’s not greedy by any means, but I’d actually feel worse if I deprived her of opening the actual/physical presents from her kids. I can’t throw wrapping paper and a bow around good will. 🙁

    That’s not to say I won’t participate in charities this season though. I’m sure my significant other will find a cause that’s worthy of our donation, and I will gladly contribute with all my heart.

    • Stantz

      Well, you *could* frame a piece of paper saying that money was donated to charity in your mom’s name, and then wrap that…or you could slip that into a card.

      It is possible, I’m just saying. 😉

    • Cybernetic SAM

      Yeah you can tie a bow and wrapping paper around it, they send you a membership package!

      • Cybernetic SAM

        oh and yes I will 😉

  7. QLPJPo

    I love this post! For our wedding, in lieu of traditional gifts to all our guests, we made donations to charity in the memory of family members. Everyone loved it!

  8. Bridget Botelho

    I am an avid supporter of “gifts that give back!” UniversalGiving™ gift packages provide an easy yet thoughtful way to donate to a specific cause in the name of a loved one.

    Visit to browse UniversalGiving’s unique gift packages, which are perfect for the holiday season.

  9. Dion

    Yeah! I agree with you. Helping a cause is really a great thing. And now a days, the internet has developed so much that it’s easy to donate money to a cause. People should do it more often.

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