A group of prominent Australians is encouraging us to think outside the square when it comes to giving this Christmas.
On the eve of Australian Giving Week, the likes of Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, celebrity chef Gabriel Gaté and athletics legend Ron Clarke have stressed the importance of considering meaningful alternatives to some Christmas traditions.
Their Christmas gift suggestions range from giving an unemployed person a fair go, to buying a cow for a struggling family in Asia and donating unwanted cooking equipment to a local charity.
These are a few of the dozens of suggestions prepared by Our Community ahead of its annual Australian Giving Week, this year running from December 1-7. Others include:
- Donate blood.
- Volunteer to help deliver presents.
- Provide a break for a carer.
- Make a toy or gift with your own hands.
- Donate your old computer to a good cause.
- Sponsor a native animal.
- Buy a "present" for an overseas effort.
- Buy an extra present.
- Buy an extra can.
- Donate a gold coin to a good cause.
- Adopt a Stray.
- Swap gifts for donations.
"If possible it would be great to do something extra special for the disadvantaged in our community. Be grateful for what you have and share the joy," Clarke said.
Gaté suggests giving some of your excess cooking equipment or cookbooks to someone you know who is struggling, while Ms Kelly said all businesses should support the giving efforts of their staff.
Our Community is a world-leading social enterprise that works to support and accelerate the impact of Australia's 700,000 community and not-for-profit groups. Giving Week has run each December since 2005 as a means of helping people to take action and make a difference to their community in the lead-up to Christmas and beyond.
A full list of gift giving ideas for individuals and businesses is available at the Giving Week website, www.givingweek.com.au There are also tips on where to buy Christmas trees and gifts that will benefit a community organisation, volunteering ideas, examples of ways you can engage better with your neighbours and the wider community, and much more.
"Community groups need support all year round but Giving Week is a great time for everyone to get started," Our Community CEO Dr Rhonda Galbally said.
"Meaning doesn't have to be tied into a price tag, nor should a tighter economy mean you can't keep giving. The key is choosing what to give, where and how."
"I love it when people strive to make a difference and believe businesses should support the giving efforts of their people. At Westpac our people can choose the charities they support and through our Matching Gifts Program, we match employee donations dollar for dollar to any tax deductible charity in Australia. We also offer our people a day of paid leave each year for volunteer work with a not for profit organisation."
- Gail Kelly, CEO, Westpac
"A very Aussie thing to give at Christmas would be a 'fair go'.
"Maybe we won't spend money but more importantly we could give of our true selves! How nice it would be if as an answer to the seasonal question, 'What did you get for Christmas?' some of the most needy people in our community and the world could answer 'A fair go!'
"For an unemployed person we might be in the position to offer a job. For someone just out of prison, maybe we could give them a new chance - for work or housing or to re-establish a friendship.
"To our overstretched environment we might give a new tree or a commitment to reduce consumption.
"To those people in Australia or other places in the world who are facing hunger, political imprisonment, persecution or capital punishment we could give our solidarity through prayer, donations of money and joining campaigns to secure their relief or release.
At the very least - to our friends and family we might give a greater gift of our time, our attention and our love."
- Fr Joe Caddy, prison chaplain and CEO, Centacare Catholic Family Services
"Give some of your excess cooking equipment or some of your cookbooks to someone you know who is struggling, or to your local op shop. Many people can't afford basic cookware."
- Gabriel Gaté, celebrity chef
"Get 'mooving' - and buy a cow at www.cowfund.org"
- Dr Simon Longstaff, executive director, St James Ethics Centre
"Give a scholarship - I love to give scholarships - for example, a Western Chances Scholarship, which not only benefits the recipient financially, but also their family, their school and their community through the acknowledgment of the recipient's achievements. Scholarships have a huge multiplier effect which result in great leverage of the original donation."
- Carol Schwartz, chair, Our Community
"Christmas is a special time to spend with family and loved ones but we should also recognise and spare a thought for the many people who are less fortunate than ourselves and who may not have family to spend the festive season with. If possible it would be great to do something extra special for the disadvantaged in our community. Be grateful for what you have and share the joy!"
- Cr Ron Clarke MBE, former Olympic runner and Gold Coast Mayor