At the risk of giving interested parties a chance to guess their Christmas gifts (who also happen to be the top readers of this blog…), I will tell you about the perfect gift that combines frugality and philanthropy with holiday excellence: non-profit organization fall fundraiser giveaways.
Actually that sounds really awful. But if you look carefully, you can find great gifts through these resources! If you are like me and my family, you enjoy classical music, adopted dogs, public broadcasting television, and hiking and biking through the majestic lands protected by the various Roosevelt administrations.
Here is documentation of enjoyment of such things just in 2014:
Bowers Spring Bolton, MA
Sudbury, MA Conservation Land
Cape Cod Rail Trail
Cape Cod National Seashore
Adopted pooch admiring the majesty of the Cape Cod National Seashore
View from summit, Pack Monadnock
Ice-walking in Ashland State Park
Marlborough, MA Conservation Land
It is amazing how many beautiful places you can walk right into, 24/7/365, for free. Of course parks are paid for by tax dollars, but many other things critical to my life, including converted rail trails and public classical radio, exist solely based on charitable donations. It is frightening to think that the preservation of natural beauty might not have occurred to anyone at the turn of the last century, or that public radio stations go out of business due to lack of support.
Incidentally I have started contributing to non-profit fundraising drives over the past couple years, as my debt burden evaporates. It’s funny how one day you wake up and think “wow I’ve been listening to countless hours of commercial-free classical music for free.” The amazing classical programming piping from Boston, MA is like having a gigantic MP3 collection that would take years and thousands of dollars to curate. And ironically, the intrusion of ads into Facebook, Pandora, Hulu – everything we used to think was “free” – underscores what is actually being provided to you absolutely free of charge.
Anyway, tuning into these non-profit fundraisers has heightened my awareness of the Relative Awesomeness of the “thank you gifts” that come with moderately substantive donations. Without going into too much detail pre-Xmas, I have already scored 1) an amazing gift (not yet available in stores) which will rock one family member’s socks right off and 2) a pretty snappy stocking-stuffer which I know will be heartily enjoyed.
These were procured relatively on discount along with charitable contributions I wanted to make anyway. These items will be shipped to me for free. And this whole arrangement will take place well before high holiday madness season, allowing me to stay out of the mall and stay in with hot spiked apple cider!
I was originally excited that these gifts are actually tax-deductible as well. I have since found that this perk probably will not pan out because the total donations will not reduce my taxable income to a lower bracket. But you never know what magic TurboTax will produce roughly in February. Either way, I think the benefits way outweigh those of the alternative (mall schlepping).
Update to follow next month on the outcome of Awesome Gifts 2014…