10 Charities to Donate to This Christmas in Lieu of Buying Physical Gifts

Christmas can be a magical time but it can also be a minefield when it comes to buying gifts. 

There’s the issue of trying to figure out thoughtful and original gifts for the important people in your life and trying to make sure you buy things for people that they either want or need. Then there’s the wrapping of said gifts and, because things are still on the slow side, the race to make sure you send everything off in enough time to get to its final destination (which, if you are sending gifts overseas, was about a year ago). And don’t even get me started on the shitshow that is the post office this time of year.

Even more importantly, unwanted Christmas gifts (and their aforementioned wrappings) contribute to so much waste. A 2019 report from The Australia Institute, revealed that “three in ten (30%), or approximately 7.3 million Australians will receive gifts they expect they will never use or wear this Christmas, representing a total value of $980 million  in wasted presents.”

I shudder to think of how many of those unwanted gifts then end up in landfills.

The report also found that half of Australians (48%) would prefer that others not buy them Christmas gifts at all.

With that in mind, a great alternative to purchasing physical gifts that may go unused or be stashed in a closet somewhere is to make donations to charities in the name of your loved ones. This has been a tradition in my family for at least the last decade and we always have fun picking out not-for-profits that align with each other’s passions and beliefs. It also works fabulously for us as we are split between the UK, Australia and, for 12 years, the US, so it’s taken the hassle out of posting stuff internationally.

From sponsoring kids in underserved communities to buying goats, refugee aid kits or making donations to organisations dedicated to cancer research, equality, combating climate change or keeping animals safe, we’ve loved keeping this tradition alive over the years and I’ve loved not ending up with a bunch of crap I had no space for in my NYC apartments.

And hey, the other good news is that it has been proven that being altruistic is great for your mental health, so there is really no reason not to consider making a charitable donation instead of going cart crazy on Amazon.

Here are some great charities to consider giving to, but remember there are countless charities both here and overseas, dealing with a vast range of issues, that would love your help.


If mental health is something you are passionate about then you can’t look past R U OK? Founded by the late Gavin Larkin, who lost his father to suicide, the organisation looks to break down the stigma of mental health issues and prevent death by suicide through discussion, resources, support and open conversation.

Make a donation, here.


OzHarvest seeks to inspire and educate people about food waste, food security and sustainability. Through their education programs and advocacy work, this charity wants others to change behaviour and help reach the national target of halving food waste by 2030.

The sad reality is that millions of Aussies suffer from food insecurity, while an alarming amount of food is wasted each year in this country. OzHarvest wants to change all of that and, what’s even better is that every $1 donated allows the organisation to deliver two meals to people in need.

Make a donation, here.

Share the Dignity

It is heartbreaking to know that, in the year 2021, so many Australians experience period poverty. In fact, in research conducted by Share the Dignity125,205 people were interviewed and it was discovered that:

  • 40 percent of survey participants had changed to a less suitable period product due to cost
  • 49 percent wore a pad or tampon for more than four hours because they didn’t have any more to use

This organisation works to make a real difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or doing it tough by distributing period products to women, girls, and anyone who menstruates who needs support.

Share the Dignity also assists those in need by collecting hundreds of thousands of period products each year through collection drives and campaigns while working on advocacy to end period poverty in Australia. 

Make a donation, here.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

When searching for charities to donate to, genetic disorders like Cystic Fibrosis (CF) can often be forgotten, even though they affect such a high proportion of the Australian population.

In fact, 8% of Australians (2 million people) live with a rare disease and about 80% of those are genetic. The past 18 months have been a scary time for so many of us, but for people living with chronic illnesses like CF, they have been even more so. That means now’s an especially great time to donate to help find a cure.

Make a donation, here.

The Healing Foundation

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that provides a platform to amplify the voices and lived experience of Stolen Generations survivors and their families.

This organisation works with communities to create a place of safety, providing an environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories, and be in charge of their own healing.

The aim of the foundation is to honour First Nations ancestors to ensure future generations continue to thrive for the next 60,000 years.

Make a donation, here.


2021 has been a year in which the conversations around climate change have been more intense than ever thanks to a very grim IPCC climate change report and a tumultuous COP26 summit.

Not-for-profit organisation Oceana seeks to make our oceans more biodiverse and abundant by winning policy victories in the countries that govern much of the world’s marine life.

Founded in 2001, Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation and seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy, and abundant as they once were.

Make a donation, here.


Sands is a volunteer-based organisation providing individualised care from one bereaved parent to another, giving them support and hope for the future, following the death of a baby. The organisation seeks to create a community where bereaved parents and their families can honour and remember their baby and connect with others who’ve had similar experiences.

Sands provides information resources on grief and loss to the wider community – family, friends, workplaces – and advocates for greater awareness of the importance of a healthy grieving process for bereaved parents.

Make a donation, here.

The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF)

ALNF is a national charity assisting people in Australia’s most marginalised communities to gain vital language, literacy and communication skills.

The foundations’ specialised and innovative programs address the needs of a diverse range of individuals and communities – specifically targeting First Nations, refugees and other vulnerable Australians.

ALNF believes all Australians have the right to literacy, because being able to read and write is the key to accessing education and employment, and to participating fully in society.

Make a donation, here.

White Ribbon Australia

As you are likely aware, we have a terrible issue with violence against women in this country. White Ribbon Australia is a part of a global social movement working to eliminate gendered violence and striving for an Australian society where all women and children are safe.

The White Ribbon Australia movement works through a primary prevention approach in communities, schools and workplaces across the country. Through their programs and campaigns, they engage with men to become active in the social change needed to stop men’s violence against women and children.

Make a donation, here.


One for the animal lovers (so, basically, everyone), RSPCA Australia works to influence animal welfare policy, practice and legislation across the country through working with government and industries, communicating and contributing to animal welfare science and working with supporters through targeted advocacy and education campaigns.

This charitable organisation also cares for animals across Australia, by rehoming neglected and unwanted animals through their shelters and by educating the community about responsible pet ownership while also preventing cruelty to animals, through enforcing animal welfare legislation.

Make a donation, here.

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