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(ARA) – When the economy struggles, buying the perfect gift becomes even harder. But instead of digging through sale racks or manning the line at a midnight store opening, why not try something different – a gift to a charitable organization in honor of the person you’re gifting.

Charitable donations have a surprising amount of benefits for the people on your gift list, for the recipient organizations and, believe it or not, you.

“Somehow, reaching out to someone else makes our own life better,” says Edward Creegan, a Mayo Clinic oncologist. “If our focus is ‘all about me’ we are doomed to unhappiness and will try to fill that void with trinkets, things, awards and ‘stuff.’”

A charitable donation in someone else’s name can help take away that unhappy focus and spread the joy of giving. Both you and the person on your gift list can derive satisfaction from the knowledge that your holiday spirit is helping people in your community, the nation and even the world.

The benefits of a donation don’t end there, either. You’re also recognizing the interests of your friend or loved one and strengthening your relationship. If you don’t know the right organization, take the time to find out and make your gift more personal.

It is time well spent because your donation might open up a world of new professional and personal relationships for both you and your giftee. The networking opportunities are endless, especially if you choose organizations that match the interests of the people on your gift list.

Charitable donations can also help people cope with the loss of a loved one. The holidays can be a difficult time for people dealing with loss. A gift in memory of someone creates a tribute to that person’s life and may help your friend or loved one deal with the absence of someone special.

Using your entire gift budget for charitable donations can benefit you financially as well. You can claim all your donations as an income tax deduction, and if you do several donations for different friends and family members, that deduction could add up.

With the advent of online fundraising, it’s surprisingly convenient to make a gift to any number of organizations. Mayo Clinic, for example, has an online gift tool, at

A not-for-profit organization, Mayo is conducting a campaign to transform patient care, research and education. Gifts for the campaign will help people today and benefit future generations of patients and medical professionals.

If you’re looking for a gift with great “wow” factor, consider a charitable donation. The number of benefits is truly amazing.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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