I just want to draw some attention to the great organizations I am currently involved in, so I recommend that if you can't think of what to get someone, or you are tired of giving superfluous *stuff*, you make a donation in their name to an organization doing good work. The following are ones I recommend (all national Canadian orgs, except for one based specifically in Toronto - for which I have given regional options):
What they do: ARCC is the ONLY national political pro-choice group in Canada. It is a coalition of pro-choice groups and individuals who work to break down barriers to reproductive rights and access to abortion in Canada, and take part in political and educational work on pro-choice issues. They tirelessly support providers and fight to ensure quality, accessible care. Because ARCC is a political group they are not eligible for charitable funding. They rely solely on membership fees and donations.
How to donate: ARCC has a "Donate" button right on their home page to facilitate PayPal donations. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on other ways to donate. There is also the option of monthly donations through your debit account.
Other ways to help: Consider becoming a member of ARCC. The cost is $25 a year for a basic membership, and it is a great way to support an organization that is fighting to maintain and improve your ability to access reproductive health care. There are lots of other ways to help as well, including lobbying your MP on pro-choice issues, or volunteering with a local abortion clinic or pro-choice organization.
What they do: ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Canada is an independent national organization of low and moderate income families that uses grassroots organizing to bring people together to lobby for positive change in their neighbourhoods. ACORN community organizers go door to door in their neighbourhoods to understand and address the issues that low and moderate income families are concerned about, and help empower people from within those neighbourhoods to become community leaders and fight for change. ACORN is all about solidarity and power in numbers, and their methods have been proven to be effective time and time again. ACORN Canada has won a number of victories in areas such as tenant rights and landlord licensing, stricter regulations on predatory payday lenders, and raising the minimum wage.
How to donate: ACORN receives no funding and relies on membership dues and donations. You can donate with a credit card through ACORN Canada's website, or contact them directly to make a cash or cheque donation: email@example.com. You can also become a monthly supporter.
Other ways to help: Consider becoming a member! You can join online or contact your local office. Members are currently fundraising for convention in June, so ask about buying a calendar to support their efforts. ACORN also could always use more volunteers - contact your local office to see what they need!
What they do: ACR looks out for cats who are homeless or abandoned. They help to foster and adopt out those who can live in houses, and take care of the feral population through feeding programs and trap-neuter-release. They also educate the public on the proper care of cats, and promote healthy pet ownership. This is a Toronto-based organization but if you are interested in this kind of organization in your own community, I would recommend contacting your local SPCA.
How to donate: ACR is another organization that receives no funding and relies solely on donations. You can donate through the mail or at donation boxes at local pet food stores or vet offices. You can also donate by credit card online.
Other ways to help: ACR needs lots of donations that don't have to be cash! If you have cat supplies, food, litter or even Air Miles to donate, contact them. You can also become a volunteer, as they have many different programs for cat lovers to donate their time.
What they do: SLF focuses on the AIDS pandemic in Africa. What makes them stand out as an organization is their commitment to funding grassroots groups doing incredible work in Africa, and getting money to the people on the ground who not only best understand the situation, but who can make the most out of a small amount. The SLF has so many worthwhile projects on the go, and I especially love their focus on gender and their unabashed acknowledgement that women are hurt the most by HIV/AIDS and probably have the most to give when properly supported. Their widely acclaimed Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign allows Canadian grandmothers to reach out to African grandmothers who are often raising their orphaned grandchildren on their own - providing financial and emotional support and building connections across oceans, and also encouraging and empowering elderly women (probably the most overlooked and underrated demographic) to make real change in the world. The Stephen Lewis Foundation is what hope looks like, friends.
How to donate: There are lots of ways you can donate - check out their website for more info.
Other ways to help: Get involved in a campaign! I have a few friends who took part in the Dare Campaign this year and came up with really creative dares - it was awesome! You can also host events, get your grandma involved, or if you're based in Toronto you can volunteer at the office.
If you know of some other worthy organizations for people to donate to, please feel free to suggest some in comments.