The gift of charity: from animal care to clean water

From feeding a dog to buying a goat, why not make a charity donation on behalf of a loved one this festive season?

Are you a selfless Santa? It may be better to give than to receive, but by donating to a worthy charity at the same time you can double up on that dopamine hit. Charity donations in lieu of Christmas gifts are the perfect present for those who seem to have everything. It’s also a sustainable and ethical way to shop this festive season.

ISPCA – The gift of animal care

This is the ideal gift for an animal lover or perhaps someone who has lost a beloved pet during the year. In their name, you can feed a dog (€25) or cat (€20) for a month, or be a buddy to a bunny for just €10. If you're thinking big, 100 bales of hay for a horse is €350. The charity also has a range of cute animal-inspired items – such as the Hound Dog Pot Mitt, €8.99 – to buy in its online shop.

Oxfam – The gift of an education

It's safe to assume your kid's teacher has enough scented candles. How about giving them the knowledge they've helped to educate a young girl in Malawi (€25)? Oxfam offers all sorts of gift options for Christmas and throughout the year. You can even tell them they've put her on the road to lifelong learning by buying a bike so she can cycle to school (€65).

Barnardos – The gift of a good night’s sleep

Barnardos Children's charity aims to transforms children's lives. A donation of €50 this Christmas will cover a duvet, pillow and set of covers and at least provide a warm, comfortable night's sleep for a child in need. And word to the wise, all proceeds from its beautifully illustrated book The Girl and the Cloud – a Christmas Storybook (€8.99) go directly to the charity.


Trócaire – The gift of clean water

Trócaire can put your Christmas cash to good use in the developing world and offers a wide range of gift ideas, from tokens such as soap (€5) or a solar lamp (€15) to bigger investments such as a couple of goats (€50). If you're feeling flush, you can donate to fix a well (€1,000). The recipient receives a beautiful card with details of the Trócaire Gift.

World Vision – The gift of fruit all year round

If you're a practical person – or your chosen gift recipient is – you might like to know your money is going towards something sustainable for a family in the developing world. World Vision has the option of buying a family a fruit tree for just a fiver. They say these special small grains have an "optimised drought resistance capability", making them ideal in areas like eastern Africa that don't have regular rain.

SVP – The gift of a Christmas fire

St Vincent de Paul has been working for years to alleviate poverty for families across Ireland and Christmas is its busiest time of year. Its Christmas shop allows you to spread some festive cheer; you can buy a Christmas fire – complete with stockings – for €60 or you can plump for Christmas dinner for €150. A Christmas tree is just €30.