THE BLOG
01/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Invitation to Create a New Social Norm (VIDEO)

Given the tough economic climate, it is no surprise that so many people are looking for meaning in their lives and ways to make a difference. One powerful new trend this holiday season is the making of meaningful charitable donations in friends' names, in lieu of giving traditional presents.

Americans, alone, spend about $250 billion a year buying presents. Although we have all given and received some wonderful gifts, many of us just don't need more fuzzy slippers, fruitcakes, or picture frames.

Instead, for Dad, a gardener, you might preserve an acre of the wilderness. For Mom, a photographer, you might restore a blind person's eyesight with cataract surgery. For your fashionista friend who lives for her Manolos, you can fund a pair of shoes so a girl in Africa can attend school. Hours of cancer research, solar panels for villages, meals for the hungry, books for children, medicine for the sick, shelter for the homeless. . .

Imagine the impact we could all make together as this social norm catches on: you don't have to buy stuff to show your love; instead, you can do something meaningful, in your friend's name.

Scott Goodson, Founder of StrawberryFrog, the renowned ad agency, was inspired by the idea. He recruited world-class talent, including such award winners as director Jeff Cooney and writer Michael Folino, to promote ChangingThePresent.org, a nonprofit website that facilitates and promotes this powerful new type of giving. The site offers more than 1,500 tangible donation gifts from hundreds of leading nonprofits addressing a full range of causes, so you are certain to find something for anyone on your list. You can even personalize beautiful printed greeting cards, which include a photo and description of your gift, right from the site.

Here are the Frogs' two Public Service Announcements, True Luxury and Say Forever.

What about you? Have you given or received charitable gifts in lieu of presents? Would you like to? Please leave a comment below, and let us know.

Robert Tolmach is the CEO of the WellGood companies. ChangingThePresent.org is a client of the firm.

2008-12-09-CtPlogo-ctp_sf_logo_tagline300.jpg