Monday, Dec. 20, 2010

World Vision

'Tis the season of wondering what to get your loved ones for Christmas. And in these lean economic times, one solution is to pair your holiday shopping with your charitable giving. "We're seeing more and more evidence that people are trying to hit two birds with one stone," says Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates charities. Goats are World Vision's most popular gift item; 50,000 were given to families around the world last year. Donate $75 to the Christian relief organization in a friend or relative's honor, and he or she will get an e-mailed or snail-mailed card about the goat, which will help feed a family with up to 16 nutrient-rich cups of milk each day. World Vision, which works in nearly 100 countries, also offers scores of other gift ideas, including kids' clothing ($30) and — in a new item in this year's catalog — building supplies for a hurricane-resistant shelter ($50 or $100) in Haiti, where an estimated 1.3 million Haitians are still homeless after the January 2010 earthquake. "If you were interested in the people suffering in Haiti a year ago, this would be a great time revisit that," Berger says. World Vision, in operation since the 1950s, spends about 88% of its funds on programs. Generally, charities that spend less than 25% of their budget on administrative and fundraising costs are considered efficient, according to Berger.