Tag Archives: holiday giving

7 Intangible Gifts You Can Give This Year

Ever Present
photo: JD Hancock
w can we give to others without wrapping something in a box? Whether you are strapped for cash or simply want to give in a creative way, here are 7 intangible gifts you can give to others this holiday season.

1. Give a homecooked meal. When you cook a homecooked meal for a loved one, you are giving him or her the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed evening without having to worry about preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up. Now that’s priceless.

2. Give your skill or expertise. Maybe you are a certified yoga instructor and you can give your friends a free yoga instruction for a day. Or you are good at oil painting and you can give a family member a free painting lesson for two hours. Or you know how to cut hair and you can save some friends an expensive trip to the salon.

3. Give cleaning services. Offer to clean out the closet, de-clutter every room, wash the windows, vacuum the carpet and do other organizing so the recipient can start off the new year with a really clean house. Doesn’t that sound so much cooler than a cheesy Santa Clause mug?

4. Give your valuable company at a cool event or trip. I know one couple who gave each other the gift of enjoying a weekend getaway before Christmas in lieu of an actual wrapped present. Maybe you can agree with a loved one or a circle of friends to pool gift money for a fun trip out of town or a concert all of you will enjoy.

5. Give your precious time at a volunteering event. Many non-profit organizations and charity event organizers are in need of people who are willing to give their time for a good cause. Scout out for volunteer activities that are going on in your area this holiday season.

6. Give much-needed publicity to a good cause. Not everyone can be a rich philanthropist, but everyone can help spread the word to more people. Share great organization websites on your Facebook or blog. Ask your loved ones via e-mail to consider making a donation or a micro-loan to a good cause. Tweet out charity links in less than 140 characters if you have Twitter.

7. Give positive energy to extremely overworked store clerks, public service workers and strangers. Rather than getting all in a huff about the extremely long lines or slower-than-usual service, spread genuine holiday cheer by actually smiling and wishing people happy holidays.

Do you have other ideas for giving intangible gifts this holiday season? Share them in the comments below!

Originally published in 2009

Sparking Kindness with Socks. GIG Spark: Technology + Storytelling = Action

Who doesn’t love socks? They’re warm, fuzzy and for the most part, inexpensive — unless your phalanges are of the fabulous kind. As a journalist, I’ve covered many stories about homeless people — and guess what? Socks nearly top their wish lists.

With that said, GoInspireGo is excited to share our first GIG Spark submission. Way to go and thanks Sierra Sanchez for warming our soles and our souls!

Gigster: Sierra Sanchez

Spark: Buying socks for the homeless in San Francisco, California

Your Turn:
 It’s simple – buy socks and give them. No strings attached. One of our favorite organizations, Just Give has a list of 35 things you can you to help the homeless. It’s easy, inexpensive, and a good GIG.

We hope this video sparks (and knocks) your socks off:


WHAT’S A GIG Spark & CREATE your own!

As a part of GoInspireGo’s mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we’ve joined forces with Youth Service America (YSA)Lil’ MDGs and Miley Cyrus’ “Get Ur Good On” to bring you GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion.

A “GIG Spark” is a short 1-1:30 minute video that inspires viewers to take action and help others after they’ve watched the video. The video will feature you showing and telling viewers what you want them to do on video. It’s simple, quick and can generate inspiration for others! The goal: a fun, easy way to inspire action.

We’re inviting YOU and your community (school, organization, friends, etc.) to use your passion and creativity to produce a “GIG Spark” and inspire viewers with your story. This is for anyone who can shoot and edit short videos. Get Started on a GIG Spark now.

Inspiration can be fun and infectious! We believe in the power of small acts and using technology to crowdsource ideas, capture it on video, spread the word online, and inspire immediate action. We know that people (especially youth) care and want to do something good for others, but just don’t know how. So why not teach compassion to kids and adults in your life? This is a quick way for you to use your power to spark civic engagement and inspire a small ripple of kindness that will create a domino effect…

We can’t wait to see inspiring acts popping up all over the state, country, and world! What can YOU do?

*Follow us on: LinkedInTwitter & Facebook

How More Giving Can Cure Post-Holiday Stress

Experiencing post-holiday stress or after New Year let-down?  The cure for both is found in more…giving.  Yup, it’s true.  But this type of giving doesn’t require wrapping paper or circles around the mall parking lot.  Whether in the form of philanthropy, volunteering or small human gestures, giving makes life more meaningful by turning the focus away from our own preoccupations, to others.

 And if you’re suffering an aftermath-cold born of sugary (or alcoholic) over-indulgences, giving could have you covered there too.  Research shows there’s a biological effect from helping others.  People suffering from chronic pain felt better and experienced less depression and pain when they counseled other pain patients. 

The research is fascinating, but unnecessary. We know ourselves the joy and lift we feel from helping another being or cause. If undertaken, the following ideas are guaranteed to raise spirits, reduce stress and bring a punch of optimism for the New Year.

Give to others

  • Micro-lending is a trending topic for a reason. It’s simple to participate as a lender, the impact is infinite and the satisfaction is addictive. Grameen BankKivaDonors Choose and MicroPlace are some of the largest and most effective micro-lending organizations. 
  • GiveForward.org is a new concept because of its scale and ability to connect givers and recipients in new ways. Individuals and non-profits can set up fundraising pages for initiatives ranging from volunteer trips, school projects, marathons, to medical treatments. The site also offers Give5.  Answer a couple of quick questions about your interests and GiveForward matches your interests to fundraising projects. You pick your favorite five and give $1 to each. 

Give to yourself 

  • Give yourself the benefits of exercise and another reason to do it. Plus 3 Network partners with companies to sponsor your workouts for charity. Whether you run, bike, skate, swim or walk for fitness or for transportation, your mileage benefits a cause of your choice. Easy registration and free to participate. 
  • Ode Magazine calls itself the magazine for intelligent optimists and it doesn’t disappoint. Published 10 times annually, Ode’s news stories about social enterprise, environment, health, finance and personal outlook are utterly inspiring. 

Read about others who inspire

  • Andrew Castle started Hats for Hunger last year at age nine to raise money for Heifer International. He and his brother make hand knit hats and donate 100% of the profits to a nonprofit. Last year, they raised $1,500 for Heifer and this year money from sales will go to the Vermont Food Bank.  Not only is Andrew a do-er and a giver, he’s a mighty fine knitter.
  • At 14, William Kamkwamba built his family an electricity-generating windmill from spare parts, working only off of rough plans he found in a library book.  He’s now an author, TED speaker and inspiring youth social entrepreneur. He talks about his vision and his village’s initial skepticism here.

Offer your time

  • Donate blood. It’s quick, doesn’t hurt much and is immensely needed. Consider donating platelets, plasma or bone marrow.  
  • For more engagement and a potential extended involvement, check out volunteer databases VolunteerMatchServe.gov,Idealist or Volunteer Abroad for your next trip.  
What benefits do you get from giving and what are some of your favorite ways to give?
About the Author

Olivia Khalili is the creator of Cause Capitalism, which shows companies how to grow their business by incorporating a social mission. To read more about her work, visit www.causecapitalism.com.

‘Tis the season for sharing good intentions in preparing for 2010. Need some motivation on celebrating the end of 2009 with minimal stress and optimal cheer? Post an intent on how you plan on opening your heart for 2010 and receive support from the community now! 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/acroamatic/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0




Best of the Week: Celebrate the Spirit of Giving

As a holiday gift from the Intent community to all its diverse readers, here are holiday giving articles from our talented bloggers to get you inspired for the spirit of the seasons.

Season of Giving By Carole Lynne

Gift Receiving By Dan Joseph

Holiday Nourishment: For Yourself, Your Loved Ones and the Community At Large By Deborah Kesten, MPH

Service: Another Way to Love One Another By John Morton

Generosity: Giving the Gift of Fearlessness By Marc Lesser

Giving From the Heart By MJ Ryan

This Online Bake Sale Makes Cookies Taste Even Sweeter By Donating 15% Of Every Purchase By Olivia Khalili

Giving, Getting and Gratitude By Patricia Lemer

Offering Presence This Holiday Season By Renay Matthews

Start Your Holiday Swapping Instead of Shopping By Tonic.com

7 Intangible Gifts You Can Give This Year By Yumi Sakugawa

Start Your Holiday Shopping… I Mean, Swapping

The holiday season is almost upon us, but this year, many Americans can’t afford to cross everything off their loved ones’ wish lists. So what’s a cash-strapped consumer to do?

If you’re in the Seattle area on Nov. 21, buy a ticket to the Holiday Home Accessories Swap. It’s an ecologically — and economically — friendly event sponsored by Sit + Sip, a company dedicated to promoting sustainable possibilities for your home. With a solid 20 percent of admission proceeds going toward charity, it’s worth considering staging a swap in your ‘hood, too.

Here’s how it works: Swappers scour their digs for gently used décor items (pillows, lamps, throws, frames, etc.) that they’d like to trade for other people’s swag. Then, participants bring their wares (a minimum of three) to the swap location, peruse the merchandise, and seize the chance to swap their goods for someone else’s.

Lest you’re imagining a free-for-all with shoppers duking it out over a lamp, the event is actually conducted in organized rounds where 25 people swap at a time. Each person is guaranteed to walk away with at least four "new" treasures, plus whatever items are leftover after the swap rounds are complete.

sit_swapThe brains behind the swap are Sit + Sip’s co-founders, Sara Eizen and Piper Salogga (pictured here, Sara on left), both Seattle-based interior designers who focus on helping their clients make responsible, green choices when redecorating their homes. In 2008, the women banded together to form Sit + Sip, often hosting events at their favorite home accessory stores (complete with coupons and goodie bags) where they highlight new green options that have come onto the market.

"We realize that not everyone has the budget to retrofit their home with solar panels, tankless hot water heaters or all new energy efficient windows and appliances," says Salogga. "So we wanted to show people the range of things they can do like buying a couch from a company that uses reclaimed or FSC Certified wood in their frames and non-toxic chemicals in their fabrics or products from companies that support fair work conditions or pillows that are made from recycled fabric. It can also be as simple as trading your home accessory items at a swap to simply freshen up the look of your home or office."

The idea for the Home Accessories swap came to Eizen, ironically, after she found herself with nothing to wear. "I needed new clothes and had heard about clothing swaps," says Eizen. "And then a light bulb went off in my head. I thought, if people are swapping clothes, why can’t they swap home accessories?"

The pair decided to test Eizen’s theory by holding their first swap last March. It was such a success they were inundated with requests for another event. In keeping with the spirit of the season, this time the swap will have a holiday theme: Along with home accessories, swappers are also encouraged to bring gently used Christmas decorations that they either have no use for, or have grown tired of.  That idea was inspired by Salogga’s own stash of holiday mementos that deserve a good home.

"My grandmother gave me this beautiful bell collection. It’s so pretty, but it’s just not me. That’s a perfect item for the swap," she says.

Tickets to the swap are $10 and can be purchased on the Sit + Sip website. (Since only 100 slots are available, reserve your space now!) Also, check out the site for a list of approved swappables. And, as if dressing up your dwelling for 10 bucks weren’t enough reason to get out of the house, you’ll also be supporting a worthy cause — 20 percent of all proceeds will go to the Seattle Children’s Hospital and any leftover items will be donated to the Children’s Hospital Thrift Stores.  Swappers are invited to bring a $10 gift card for the hospital’s teenage patients.

"We want people to do their holiday shopping with us," says Eizen. The motivation, she says, is simple. "A lot of people are having a tough time right now, but we all still want things. That’s not going to change."

‘Tis the season to be thrifty!

The Details
When: Sat. Nov. 21, 2009. 9:30am – Noon
Where: Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103; 206.783.2244
Cost: $10

By Michelle Hainer for Tonic.com


Generosity: Giving The Gift of Fearlessness

Generosity is an antidote to fear. When you practice generosity toward yourself and others, fear loosens its group. Generosity in this case means gratitude and acceptance for who we are and what is. After all, it takes less energy to relax and release than it does to clench and hold on, or to attempt to control or manipulate others or the environment. The result is greater accomplishment with less effort.

The fact that everything has been given to us is so obvious that it can be difficult to fathom. Our hands and eyes, our body and mind — all gifts! The air we breathe, the water we drink, the stars in the sky — gifts. If we can really let this feeling of awe envelop us, it shifts nearly everything that we can so easily take for granted about our work, our relationships, and our lives.

 It’s often difficult for us to meet our challenges and problems with generosity, and to express gratitude for painful experiences, large or small. To give just a simple example, when I encounter a long, slow line at the grocery story, I often think of one of my favorite quotes by calligrapher Kazuaki Tanahashi: “If you learn to enjoy waiting, you don’t have to wait to enjoy.” You can practice generosity with everything in daily life — and doing so can help you cope with traffic delays, cancelled flights, and coffee spills on your clean shirt, as well as those major emotional and physical challenges that strike unexpectedly.

 Even more difficult to fathom, not only do we receive the gifts of life and beauty from the world, but we give these gifts! We are not separate from our body and mind, from the air and water, and from the stars. In a mysterious, practical, and essentially unknowable way, we are involved in creating everything. Every breath, every thought, and every action we take is both a gift and an act of generosity.

 Practicing generosity in our daily lives, in our work, and in our relationships is not easy or simple. Giving that is self-centered or self-serving is merely another form of fear. But giving our full caring and attention to someone, without expecting anything in return, is an act of generosity. Real generosity requires that we open our heart and allow ourself to be curious and vulnerable and accepting. Gratitude says yes to all facets of life, even the difficult ones, which also leaves us open to experiencing more joy. The generosity of acceptance feels like doing less, but it brings us more. It is amazingly regenerative.

 During a recent “Accomplishing More By Doing Less” retreat, one of the participants was a recently retired physics professor, whom I’ll call Michael. For the past fifteen years Michael’s work had been his primary focus, and he generally averaged twelve-hour work days. During lunch on the second day of the three-day workshop, he asked me, “When is the theme of this workshop, how to get more done by doing less, going to become clear?” His impatience was obvious. I responded that I thought that everything we were doing in the workshop focused on ways of exploring how to do less.

 When we began the next session that afternoon, I suggested to Michael and to the group that so often we can get distracted by searching for answers. Sometimes, slowing down and being generous with ourselves may create space for the right questions to emerge, often slowly, allowing us to go deeper in our lives and open doors to new ways of approaching and resolving thorny issues.

 The next morning, the third and last day of the retreat, I could see tears in Michael’s eyes as he began to speak about an insight. He had come to the workshop wanting to better utilize and prioritize his time as he was leaving his busy professional life. What he came to understand, through doing less and experimenting with being generous with himself, was that what really mattered in his life at this time was healing some of the gaps in his relationships with his two grown daughters.

 When you can find composure and act with clarity and resolve, right in the midst of your fears, this is a form of generosity that in Buddhism is referred to as “giving the gift of fearlessness.” I remember several years ago someone approached me after I had given a talk to an audience of several hundred people. He said that he noticed that my hands were shaking as I was speaking, yet my voice and body seemed clear and calm. I responded that this was exactly how I felt — shaky, filled with fear, and at the same time, I felt clear and calm.


4 Ways to Become a Giving Soul

There are many days and many ways to give to others. The giving soul does not need a special day to give, but wants to give whenever giving will be helpful to others.
The giving soul takes the time to call a neighbor in poor health and ask “when I go to the store today, is there anything you need?”
The giving soul sends a warm smile your way when you are in need, with no questions asked. You receive without having to give an explanation for your sadness. 
The giving soul gives to charity without having to tell anyone how much was given. There are no expectations of reward or social prestige because of the gift given.
The giving soul sees each gift as an offering. It is an expression of the souls connection to the Divine, and giving is natural. 
Each one of us has the opportunity to become part of the giving soul.  As we let go of our egoistic attitudes and realize that we are not separate beings, but ONE, then we begin to receive the blessing of the giving soul.

This Week On Intent: How Can We Give To Others This Holiday Season?

‘Tis the season! This week on Intent, we want to hear how we can celebrate the spirit of giving this holiday season. Whether you have great gift ideas for loved ones, eco-friendly ways to send greeting cards, a list of charities to give back to, or some unique volunteer opportunities to do on Christmas Day, we want to hear in every way possible how we can give this year for the holidays.  

Gotham Chopra wants to raise $3,333.00 for ENCOMPASS, a California-based organization that benefits art in children’s education and provides students the tools and creative platform to engage in conflict resolution. This blog post from Tonic describes how for Christmas Alyssa Milano of Charmed fame is aiming to raise $75,000 for charity: water, a non-profit organization which brings clean and safe drinking water to developtiong countries. I am still elated from my first holiday-birthday party (I’m a December baby) just this past Saturday benefiting a cause–it was hardly anything fancy, but I asked all my holiday-birthday party guests to donate money on my behalf to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, an organization which is now raising money to build dormitories for a seondary girl’s school in Sudan.

Let’s not also forget the many holiday gifts you can buy this year that directly benefit a cause or charity. As a unique gift, consider giving people Kiva.org gift certificates, where recipients can choose an entrepreneur from a developing nation to lend a micro-loan to. Olivia Khalili launched a Twitter awareness campaign on gifts that give twice. Read her blog post "Choose Gifts That Give Back and Make Your Gift Count Twice" for resources and ideas on how you can get involved.

Do you have a fabulous list of gift ideas you are dying to share with the rest of the community? Please share them with us! If you want to give great presents and stay green, Tommy Rosen, founder of the Eco Gift Festival, shares with us 6 ideas for giving environmentally friendly gifts for all occasions.

Certainly, as the Forbes sisters eloquently remind us in this recent blog post, we can ALWAYS give the gift of mindful presence to the people around us rather than worrying about getting our to-do list done. At the end of the day, we are the ultimate gift we give each other–in loving attention, compassionate listening, heartfelt hugs and nurturing relationships.

Join Intent’s mission this week to inspire others with ideas, activities and tips that will inspire us to practice wellness for the holidays. Tag your blog posts "holiday giving" and we will be featuring the best weekly content at the end of the week. If you simply want to share a quick idea or tip in the comments below, we want to hear that as well. We can’t wait to read your contributions!

Giving from the Heart

It’s holiday time and for many of us, holidays that should be filled with opportunities for true happiness—a sense of togetherness, a chance to give, and a chance to be grateful—are turned into occasions for fights, disappointments, overspending and fatigue. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Holidays don’t have to be expensive, meaningless or filled with stress. Rather, they can be occasions to connect to those you care about and to express your skills and talents.

Last year, as part of my quest for a more authentic Christmas giving experience, my loved ones and I decided to give one another only presents of time, energy or creativity. I taught Angie how to cook risotto; Dave took Don skiing for the first time; Andy did a bodywork session with Ana; Don helped Andy build a closet. It was wonderful. We each gave from our knowledge and talents, and we received skills and experiences in return. To me, it epitomized the best kind of generosity—giving of the self.

Another kind of meaningful holiday giving is making donations to charities in the name of the person you’d normally buy something for. Especially as we age, most of us have so much stuff that we’d prefer not to get more objects.

About MJ Ryan

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.


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