5 Ways To Give This Holiday Season

12/15/2010 01:54 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2012
  • Joshua Rosenthal Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition

There's a frenzy this time of year. I'm sure you know what I mean, right? People hit the stores before the sun comes up to get a bargain basement deal. This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday got me thinking about something very different than cheap goods, and that's philanthropy. We've heard it before -- the meaning of the holiday season isn't in the number of gifts you buy, but in your intentions of love, compassion and gratitude. Why do people succumb to the sheer insanity that Black Friday brings? Is there a better way to celebrate the arrival of the season of giving? I think so.

It can be incredibly rewarding when you give to others in need during the holidays -- and all year long for that matter. You will have the chance to experience the wonderful feelings that come from reaching outside of yourself and bringing joy to someone. There are many ways you can do this and still enjoy a season of giving with your loved ones.

  1. Volunteer. Organize a group of family and friends to volunteer time at a non-profit organization. This time of year, these organizations need your help more than ever. Spending time with loved ones, while working to help others, is a wonderful way to inspire generosity. The Chronicle of Philanthropy talks about how recruiting families to volunteer can help overstretched charities.
  2. Donations. Let family and friends know in lieu of gift giving you will instead make donations to select charities whose mission you believe in. One step further, encourage them to do the same. Check out and
  3. Buy the gift of education. Support someone's wish to improve their life and career . Many people want to pursue work that they find fulfilling but have a hard time financing an education. If you have friends or family who want to make a shift in their future, make a donation toward their tuition.
  4. One for One. Make a commitment with yourself that for every purchase you make, you will donate material goods, money or food.
  5. Support organizations that donate. When you shop, choose companies that donate and give back to communities in need. Toms donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair they sell. Some organizations will let you know that they are donating, if it isn't clear, ask them directly or look them up. So, look for organizations that give back when you make holiday purchases.
Recently, Integrative Nutrition pledged to donate to Food for the Poor, for every "like" we received on a Facebook note. With a simple click of a mouse people were able to make a contribution to an organization that improves the health, economic, social and spiritual conditions of the men, women and children they serve. Their relief programs are helping children and those most in need by providing food, housing, health care, education, water projects, emergency relief and micro-enterprise assistance in the Caribbean and Latin America. Imagine with even more effort, what we can get accomplished beyond our virtual powers. Today, in the year 2010, all of us know someone or some company that does not understand that food affects everything -- our health and happiness, our planet, our future, and our connection to each other. This can change. I believe that with power behind it, everyone can see clearly how food affects everything. We have pledged to support organizations that have a mission to improve the health and happiness of people in the world. This is Integrative Nutrition's 2020 Vision.

In December we are supporting three organizations: Best for Babes, Organic Farming Research Foundation, and The Food Project. Each new student that enrolls in the school during the month of December can choose from one of these charities and we will make a donation on their behalf.

How will you find the true spirit of giving this holiday season and beyond?