Gift-giving can be tricky. How do we select the perfect gift that the recipient will love? Well, here at PLC, we may not be able to help you with ideas for Aunt Myrtle, but we have a little insider knowledge when it comes to nonprofit workers.

With the holidays around the corner, we thought we’d put together a fun little list with some gift ideas that nonprofit folks would love to receive. In order to make this list we had to make some (major) generalizations, but we think that there’ll be something on this list for everyone! Be sure to forward to the loved-ones in your life if you think they need a little direction…

  1. Food – we’re not sure if it’s because our jobs are stressful and food is soothing, or because this is some sort of inherent trait in folks who are predisposed to social justice, but be it cheese, hummus (Mandatory Nonprofit Meeting Snack™), baked goods or the other half of that burrito that our work-bestie hasn’t finished, we love to enjoy culinary delights. So, anything food or food related will most likely be swooned-over.
  2. Pens – one can never have enough pens. Daily moods just require different colours, ok?! Also, they’re often lost. Or ‘borrowed’ by Steve in development.
  3. Books – novels, leadership, self-help, comics – any kind of book is a special treat to receive. Especially when the giver has inscribed it with a lovely little note.
  4. Candles – We may light it to relax at home or to bring some calm to our office space. Candlelight can be soothing and comforting during times of stress. Err on the side of caution, however, and be sure to select unscented (unless, of course, you know that the recipient is a particular fan of the vanilla-sugar-cookie-candy-apple-cinnamon-bun variety – I know I am).
  5. A Beautiful Notebook – we have actually had an impromptu ‘Show & Tell’ session at the PLC offices when by chance we all purchased new notebooks the same week. It just makes our note-taking feel extra special when the notebook we’re using has some gold sparkle, is leather-bound, or has Bill Murray’s face on it. Taste-dependent, of course.
  6. Chocolate – Ok, yes, ‘Food’ is mentioned above but separating out chocolate is just common sense. Chocolate is more than food – it’s art, pleasure, indulgence and luxury all rolled up in a truffle. Or bar. Or hot drink.
  7. Cards – There is just nothing better than a hand-written card containing a little (or a lot of) personalization. So much of the work we do is unacknowledged so receiving notes from friends and family about how we’re loved and appreciated is, well, loved and appreciated!
  8. Time – we are busy folks with a lot on our plates (literal [see ‘Food’ above], and figurative), so carving out time to spend with people we love is a gift.
  9. Artwork – whether you’ve purchased it from Sotheby’s or your 3-year-old has just discovered finger-painting, anything that can brighten up our office space is greatly appreciated.
  10. Anything Hand-Made – some of us are sentimental folks and if you’ve taken the time to create something with us in mind, chances are you’ll get a big, warm hug and your gift will be cherished.
  11. Slippers – our ‘offices’ are not always conventional. We may be outside all day, in a cold warehouse, on our feet, in a drafty (but cheap!) office space or running around from site to site. Our feet could use some TLC and they would definitely appreciate a cozy pair of nice, warm slippers.
  12. An All-Inclusive Holiday to Somewhere Hot & Beautiful – hey, I don’t know who your friends are! Maybe they’ve been considering gifting this to you? I’m just letting them know that this idea would most likely be welcome.
  13. Unique Coffee Mugs – whether we use it for coffee, tea or any other hot drink (but no ‘Hot Toddies’ at the office!), a mug that shows a little of our personality and pizzazz helps to brighten our days.
  14. Technology/Gadgets – many of us are often responsible for most aspects of a given project or program; from concept and development, to delivery, evaluation and reporting. In short, we’re amazing. Oops – I mean, in short, we tend to appreciate technologies that help streamline the massive scope of the work under our purview, and improve the quality of our delivery, record keeping, evaluation, storytelling and other aspects. So cool gadgets like lenses for our smart phone cameras that improve the pictures we’re taking of our programs, or movie editing software so we can create shareable videos for our organization’s social media pages or even a cool ergonomic backpack that allows us to carry all the stuff we need for an afterschool program will make us very merry and happy indeed.
  15. Money – It may be perceived as a little tasteless but gifting us nonprofit workers cash is pretty smart. We could use it to purchase something for ourselves, of course, or we may just donate it back to our organization.


Now we want to hear from you! What have we missed in our guide to gifts for nonprofit folks? Let us know in the comments below!

Until next time,


This week’s blog was written by Tina de los Santos. Tina brings a diverse mix of nonprofit and business leadership to her role at PLC. Throughout her career she has been passionate about creating engaging learning experiences that support and inspire people’s professional and personal growth. Tina is our chief knowledge sharer and enjoys digitally connecting with other leaders in Peel to help them find great resources and learning tools.

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