Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Bill Gates' LinkedIn page on Monday, November 26. Heifer was one of four charities selected by Bill and Melinda Gates to highlight on Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving.

Each year, around this time, friends and business partners start sending presents to my office. The reception desk gets covered with tins of candy, boxes of cookies, sometimes a few bottles of wine. It’s all very nice. But what I’d really like is a flock of chicks or maybe some honeybees.

Let me explain what I mean. I’m touched that people think to send holiday treats. It’s a fun tradition. My team at the office always looks forward to the flavored popcorn that one of our partners sends every year. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful or deprive my colleagues of caramel corn.

But I can’t help thinking that the money spent on these gifts could go to people who need it more than I do.

For example you might know about Heifer International, a non-profit that lets you buy an animal for a family in need. Send Heifer $30 and someone gets honeybees. $120 buys a pig. There are lots of other options too.

You can even give an animal or other donation in someone else’s name. So if you’re looking for a gift to send your clients and partners this year, you could donate to a group like Heifer on their behalf. They will get a card acknowledging your gift. They’ll have to go get their own cookies, but on the bright side, they will know that your generosity in their name really helped someone.

Heifer is part of a project that Melinda and I are supporting this year called Giving Tuesday. The idea is to take one day out of your holiday shopping and dedicate it to giving back. The Giving Tuesday website lists lots of great organizations that need your support. (Although Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, you can donate any time.) Melinda and 
I have posted our list of four groups that we think are especially effective, including Heifer, but there are many others to choose from. If you run a non-profit, becoming a partner with Giving Tuesday could be a great way to connect with new donors.

I’d encourage you to check out the groups taking part in Giving Tuesday. You could help them make a tangible difference in someone’s life, which is just about the best gift any of us could ask for.

Take five minutes and give back.  

Author

Annie Bergman

Bergman is a Global Communications Manager for Heifer and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo in her six years at Heifer. Bergman received her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma and a master’s degree in Australian Aboriginal Studies from the University of Melbourne in Australia. Her hobbies include hiking, golfing, cooking, reading and walking her dogs.