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The SentiOne Alternative Gift Guide — how to make your gift matter

The holiday season is here — the John Lewis advert is airing, Mariah Carey once again stalks the airwaves, and every blogger under the sun is writing posts filled with affiliate links. We’re deep into the annual season of giving, and there’s no getting out until New Years’.

We assume you already read your requisite amount of holiday gift suggestions. This article isn’t another list of deals and products you desperately need to buy this year — no, we chose to do something completely different.

2022 was a tough year for many of us, for plenty of reasons. To help address that, we tuned our social listening radars to find NGOs and charities that you and your company can help support. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means — to cover every initiative we’d have to write an entire book, if not several — but it should provide you with sufficient ideas to get started. Ready? Let’s go.

Supporting man’s best friends — shelters, vet clinics, and more

Animals have been with us since the dawn of time. We’ve been repaying the favour to the best of our ability ever since. You too can contribute to this effort — here’s how!

Online animal adoptions

Various wildlife rehabilitation clinics and zoos allow interested parties to adopt animals online. A recurring donation helps cover the adoptee’s food and medical costs. It’s a popular form of giving back for individuals and companies alike.

Organisations such as the WWF allow you to adopt a wide range of animals and ensure that your money goes to protecting their natural habitats. On a more local level, you can find institutions such as the Irish Seal Rescue or the Scottish Wildlife Trust — they often focus on specific species native to their region. Organisations like that aren’t just concerned with taking care of the animals; they also conduct educational campaigns.

Covering vet costs

Animal rescues and adoption centres often take in stray animals in need of help. That’s a lot of medical costs — especially during the holiday season. You can help offload some of those costs by donating to your local animal rescues or shelters.

On a larger scale, there’s organisations such as the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which is a charity that provides free veterinary services to animals in need around the United Kingdom. This particular institution can boast a long tradition of helping animals in need — it’s been around for over a century!

Save the bees, save the planet

We all heard the same lecture in biology class: the bees play an essential role in keeping life on planet Earth going. Countless species of plants depend on them (and, to a lesser extent, other pollinating animals) to reproduce. Without bees, the food chain would collapse.

Which is why the continuing decline of insect populations is so concerning. Thankfully, we’re aware of the problem. There are various organisations devoted to protecting bees and their habitats, as well as lobbying governments to take decisive action.

There’s organisations like the Woodland Trust, which use the donations received to provide new habitats for animals. From new trees to serve as homes for pollinating bees to hedges that provide shelter to hedgehogs — you can purchase all of them as virtual gifts.


Money’s all well and good, but sometimes what your local animal rescue really needs is extra manpower. Perhaps your city’s shelter could use a couple of extra volunteers to help walk the dogs during the holiday season? It’s worth asking — both at the shelter and within your company. After all, can you think of a better team-building exercise than helping your local rescue take care of animals in need?

Giving gifts to support those in need

We don’t really need to mince words: the past couple of years have seen conflict escalation all around the world. The number of refugees escaping or struggling to rebuild war-torn areas continues to rise. Here’s what you can do to help.

Providing relief with Oxfam and Unicef

When it comes to charities supporting refugees, you’d be hard pressed to find more established names than Oxfam and Unicef. Both organisations have eight decades of experience in delivering help to those in need. You can directly support their efforts by buying charitable gifts from their online stores.

For instance, Oxfam sells gift cards through its Unwrapped initiative. Each card supports a different initiative to which you can contribute.

Unicef, on the other hand, lets you directly fund various necessities. From one hundred bars of soap to a round of measles vaccinations for children in deprived areas — you get to choose exactly the way you want to help.

Helping refugees rebuild their lives

Winter is an especially difficult time for refugees from war-torn countries. The United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Refugee Agency has a program which lets people donate to help keep refugees warm.

The UNHRC has also launched a similar program specifically targeted at helping Ukrainian refugees survive the winter. War has left many homes within the country damaged — and United Nations personnel are currently on the ground helping to reinforce them against the cold. Donations help fund those activities, as well as provide material aid to those affected by the fighting.

Making a difference on a local level

Of course, the initiatives we listed thus far are large and wide-reaching. There’s dozens, if not hundreds of organisations in your own city which aim to make a difference, and they’re no less deserving of your support. For obvious reasons we can’t list all of them here, but here’s a couple of ideas to get you started.

Nearly every city on the planet has a food bank, a soup kitchen, or a homeless shelter. Volunteer activity is what keeps these places going, and they’re especially important — and busy — during the holiday season. Reach out to them and offer to help out!

Winter is always the most difficult time for people in need. You can help alleviate some of the hardship by donating warm clothing, hygiene products and other necessities to your local shelter. After all, isn’t the buildup to the holidays the perfect time to get started with that closet cleaning you’ve been putting off for months?

Don’t forget about the orphanages and children’s hospitals — those kids would surely appreciate some new toys under the christmas tree! We’re willing to bet there’s already more than a few charity drives underway wherever you’re located. Get involved!

And, finally, you can help by spreading the word of any worthwhile initiative in your area. Talk to your friends, work colleagues, neighbours and get them involved as well. After all — isn’t that what social media is all about?