Gift Guide: For the thoughtful gift giver

Giving Tuesday sign Photo by CLS Digital Arts/Shutterstock

Whether you celebrate American Thanksgiving or not, your inbox is probably cluttered with Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails right now. From “40 per cent off everything!” to “Free gift with purchase!”, it’s hard not to start looking for the best deals on holiday presents for family and friends (and maybe even for yourself—we don’t judge!). This year, we challenge you to participate in one more day of gifting, but this time it’s not for TVs or tinnies.

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Black Friday, sheds a new light on the season of gifting by bringing the world together in support of favourite charities and causes. We’ve put together a list of places we hope receive some love this Giving Tuesday—and, hey, donating on behalf of someone and their passions makes a great gift.

1. Nature Conservancy of Canada

This organization is all about a love of nature—from coast to coast, covering all lands and waters. Efforts here are focused on supporting natural areas and biological diversity directly tied to sustaining life so future generations have something to enjoy. You can learn more about donating to conservation research here, where funds go towards supporting development and action, or take a look at one of the many monthly or single donation options. There’s also a holiday giving campaign where you can symbolically adopt Canadian wildlife, like a polar bear, snowy owl, or lynx. This is the ideal green gift for the animal lover on your list.

2. Cottage Dreams

We understand more than anyone that a cottage is a place to kick back, relax, and really enjoy life. Why not share the special place cottage life holds in your heart with a family in need? Cottage Dreams connects families touched by cancer reconnect and celebrate recovery at donated cottages. There are so many ways you can contribute to this experience: donate your home away from home for a week, sponsor a family’s visit, or give your time at an event. No matter what option you choose, you’ll be impacting an entire family’s life just when they need it most. 

3. Canadian Canoe Museum

Do you know about this iconic heritage space? We bet the Canadian-loving, museum-going friend in your group does. We also bet they’d love to help contribute to a new building to house the collection of over 600 canoes, kayaks, and paddled watercraft. The new location on the canal at the Peterborough Lift Lock will not only create a larger capacity to grow and share important Canadian transportation history, but also get visitors connecting with canoeing by being able to get on the water. You can learn more about the new museum and support the collection here.

4. Protect Our Winters Canada

Any outdoor enthusiast will be pleased to see a donation in their name to this climate advocacy organization. It’s here that the winter sports community comes together to fight against climate change so everyone can enjoy the outdoors. You can take action and support a collective voice looking to make change when it comes to policy decisions by getting educated and making a donation. As a special on GivingTuesday, outdoor apparel brand Arc’teryx will match all donations to Protect Our Winters Canada, dollar for dollar, up to $60,000.

5. Ontario Nature

Because there’s no such thing as caring too much about nature, why not look into this organization that protects wild species and spaces? Ontario Nature is about reversing the decline of biodiversity in the province, connecting people with the nature around them, and strengthening the ability to create impactful change. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who lives for local sustainability, check out the Protect Nature project, dedicated to 360 acres on Gananoque Lake that is home to more rare species than anywhere else in Canada. Donate to protect a piece, quarter, or full acre of land.

6. Water First

Imagine not having access to safe drinking water. Sadly, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination with two-in-five First Nations under a boil water advisory in Ontario, and one-in-five in all of Canada. Water First develops programs to train communities on reserves all different aspects of water issues. From fish habitat restoration to the Water First internship, a donation to this cause will help fund one of these hands-on programs that directly impact the people facing some of the biggest crisis in their everyday life.

7. The Land Between

Looking to give your neighbour at the cottage something for the holidays but not sure what’s appropriate? Why not gift them with something that will improve their cottage life. The Land Between is one of cottage country’s biggest nature conservation organizations, spanning from the Frontenac Arch to Georgian Bay and Southern Parry Sound. Supporting this area means a win for ecosystems to cottage vitality. You can put your donation towards turtle tunnels, education and outreach, cultural conservation, or wildlife and lake research. We’re sure your neighbour will appreciate any sustainable solution you choose.

Other thoughtful gift ideas:

Give the gift of safety—a driving course (think, less traffic jams on the way up to the cottage!)
Donate time or resources to a local school breakfast program
Organize a beach clean up
Help your neighbours get their property winter-ready