If you're buying a gift for somebody who already has it all, or just want to do something different, virtual charity gifts are a great bet. Below is a sample of what you can get.
In this guide
How does it work?
All the organisations below offer a customisable e-card or gift card that’ll tell the recipient what you've paid for on their behalf, or you can just make a regular donation.
If you just want to give a direct donation to charity on somebody else's behalf, be sure to use Gift Aid. Read our Charity Giving article for the full lowdown.
Can't afford to donate?
What you can get
You can really make a difference to those less fortunate than yourself with virtual charity gifts. From helping to save lives with vital vaccines, to buying livestock for villagers to help them become self-sufficient, your donation really could change lives for the better. Here's a pick of the top charity gifts out there.
Help save lives eg, with Polio vaccines
Types of gifts: Polio vaccines for 100 kids for £11, deliver a baby for £23.50 (provides midwifery equipment and medicines for a safe birth), or winter clothing for a Syrian child for £35 – when you buy this particular gift, the Government will match your donation pound for pound.
What does the charity get? Your donation provides the gift selected and covers the gift card costs, order processing etc. Occasionally, a substitute could be made based on need (eg, measles vaccines instead of polio).
Help feed the hungry
Types of gifts: 50 bowls of rice to feed 50 hungry children for £5, a worm composting kit for African farmers for £8, adopt a vegetable for £15 (saves rare varieties from extinction) or a Christmas hamper for an elderly person for £25.
What does the charity get? Good Gifts guarantees that all of your money will go to exactly what you've bought. Instead of charging a handling fee as it used to, it now uses Gift Aid to keep the site running.
Link: Good Gifts
Lifesaving Gifts (RNLI)
Types of gifts: The Royal National Lifeboat Institution's charity gifts include warm, protective gloves for £10, 14 litres of lifeboat fuel for £10, or specialised sea boots for £42.
What does the charity get? The RNLI uses money from the gift where the need is greatest. For every £1 donated, 83p goes towards its rescue service and 17p goes towards generating income for the charity.
Link: RNLI Lifesaving Gifts
Support the homeless
Types of gifts: Buy a homeless young person a Christmas dinner for £5, a Christmas gift for £10, a set of toiletries for £15, or a safe, comfy bed for the night for £30.
What does the charity get? 85p of every pound raised is used to continue Centrepoint’s work to support homeless young people.
Irrigation systems, mosquito nets and more
Types of gifts: A chicken for £5 or 10 chicks for £10, a mosquito net for £5, a community health kit for £20 or an irrigation system for a whole village for £140.
What does the charity get? Everything donated to this appeal will support its charitable work, helping the most disadvantaged older people overseas.
Teach vital life skills and support new mothers
Types of gifts: Catholic aid agency CAFOD's gifts include a meal for somebody living in poverty (£8), teach someone to read (£10), a healthy mum and baby medical package (£30) or a happy queen bee for £4 (brings more bees to a hive, giving more honey).
What does the charity get? For every £1 donated, 88p is spent on international emergency and development work, and 12p on fundraising and work management. Donations go towards funding projects in that gift's category (eg, livestock, agriculture and livelihoods).
Link: World Gifts
Stationery, uniforms and more
Types of gifts: A year’s books, stationery and uniform for a child for £9, a chicken to help a family start a business for £4, 100 cocoa saplings for a farmer for £11, or feed a family for a month for £25.
What does the charity get? For every £1 donated, 85p is spent on direct charitable expenditure, 14p on fundraising and 1p on running the charity. Cash from gifts goes to projects within the relevant fund (eg, agriculture and livestock).
Link: Christian Aid
School supplies, health checks and livestock
Types of gifts: Share in a farmyard for £5, health check for £6, school supplies for £8, chickens for £10 or a goat for £25.
What does the charity get? Your donation will be spent on a related Oxfam project (eg, cash from water-themed gifts goes to one of its water and sanitation projects). For every £1 donated, 82p goes on projects, 9p on support costs and 9p on fundraising.
Link: Oxfam Unwrapped
Help disadvantaged children
Types of gifts: Buy a Christmas present for a child for £7, give a child a Christmas party for £10, or pay for an outing for five children for £60.
What does the charity get? 72p for every £1 received is spent directly on services to transform the lives of children and young people. Money raised from the Alternative Christmas Gifts range is used wherever the need is greatest.
Link: The Children's Society
WWF Adopt An Animal
Types of gifts: Adopt one of a range of animals from £3/month and receive three annual updates a year on your chosen species, plus a cuddly toy.
What does the charity get? For every £1 donated, 72p is used directly for conservation programmes and field projects, campaigns, education and raising awareness of environmental matters, 27p for fundraising and 1p on running costs.
Link: Adopt An Animal