A girl receives a gift from Heifer.org, a Web site which promotes subsistence farming.
A girl receives a gift from Heifer.org, a Web site which promotes subsistence farming. - 
Listen To The Story


Scott Jagow: Here's something positive. A new report says U.S. charitable foundations are giving money to international causes at a record level. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation accounts for a lot of that increase, but not all. It might be tough for that to continue with all this economic fallout. But if you're thinking about a donation, maybe consider this: Gift cards for charities. From the Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mitchell Hartman reports.

Mitchell Hartman: A few years back, my family gave regularly to a charity that promotes subsistence farming. At holiday time, instead of a fancy scarf, Grandma would get a card in the mail, saying a poor family in El Salvador had gotten a donkey in her name.

These days, we could get Grandma a charity gift card instead. Erik Marks, founder of TisBest.org, says she would go online.

Erik Marks: And decide not only is it a sheep or a pig or a goat. But maybe I don't want to give a farm animal, what I really want to do is protect some Arctic wildlife.

Marks' new Web site links to 250 charities. You can find thousands more at sites like NetworkForGood and JustGive.org.

Stacy Palmer edits The Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Stacy Palmer: I definitely think corporations and everybody's going to look for a way to help charity if they can through their gifts, because it's both a better image and there's real need out there.

Palmer says this holiday season, no one wants to receive a worthless tchotchke from a boss or vendor that's just destined for the dustbin.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.