I've told you about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (a few of which are valid through the end of CyberWeek). But there is also an opportunity to give back. This year, more than 2,000 organizations have banded together for today's #GivingTuesday event. Here are 10 organizations near and dear to travelers worldwide that need your support.
We've all talked a lot about the Olympics, but the Special Olympics is just as important. This holiday season, you can give back to the international organization that aims to "change lives through the power of sport for people with intellectual disabilities." In addition to year end giving campaign, you can also purchase the "A Very Special Christmas" album series. It's the 25th year of the series and this year there are holiday songs from Train, Rascal Flats, Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, and many more.
Through all of my recent volunteer coverage, I've told you different ways to give back to New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. #GivingTuesday is no exception. There are several experiences including Rebuilding Together NYC. Currently the organization is working to "put in place a long-term recovery strategy and fund [and]... repair as many of the New York City homes affected by Hurricane Sandy as possible. Click here to donate on #GivingTuesday or any day.
Preservation and education go hand in hand with Alaska Geographic. The organization creates educational programs designed to promote stewardship and encourage the preservation of Alaska's parks, forests and refuges. The organization works to make sure "the wildlands will remain places of education, recreation and inspiration for everyone." Donate securely through their website.
In the continental U.S. you can support the Yosemite Conservancy, which creates projects and programs to preserve and protect Yosemite National Park's natural resources and the visitor experience.
Clean water is something many people take for granted, but the scarcity of clean water is a global problem. In fact, one in five people have no access of safe water to drink. Pure Water for the World works to provide communities in the developing world sustainable, clean water sources. This #GivingTuesday, you can support the organization's work in Haiti or Honduras. Click here for more information.
In addition to clean water, you can also support our oceans and ecosystem. Seacology has #GivingTuesday gift options that include preserving at acre of rainforest or saving an acre of corral. Both are just $40 and the gifts come with a card of acknowledgment and a color photograph of the area. The rainforest project is in the village of Sitio Lobo, Philippines and the ocean project is in the Muri Village, Cook Islands. In addition to the preservation projects, the organization works to give back new resources to the local community.
We all need maps, electronic or print, when we travel. The Green Map System offers an interesting take on the standard map. Since 1995, the nonprofit organization has created 835 locally led Green Map projects in 65 countries. The maps guide the user toward climate smart, environmentally sound choices. The #GivingTuesday project works to grow new projects and develop new technologies.
Kiva is an interesting option for #GivingTuesday because it offers thousands of ways to give back. The non-profit microfinance organization lets you lend, not give, as little as $25 in a microloan to an individual in need. In general, the non-profit organization aims to alleviate global poverty.
Supporting the National Audubon Society comes with a cool gift this #GivingTuesday. You can adopt one of 16 birds for the holiday season. You get a personalized card, a photograph of the adopted bird and a full membership in the National Audubon Society. Plus, today, you can used the code cyber20 at checkout to get 20 percent off purchases. And all gifts are tax deductible.
10. Operation USA
I sit on the board of Operation USA, an international relief agency that works with grassroots partners in hard-hit areas around the world. In addition to first-response relief after earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, drought, and the recent Hurricane Sandy, the organization also works to battle ongoing problems such as hunger, disease and endemic poverty. This year, the organization celebrates the first annual Giving Tuesday and is encouraging giving back through all its outlets.
And remember for more immersive experiences, get out there and volunteer your time. My voluntourism archives are updated weekly and have opportunities around the globe.