Still don’t know what to buy your friends and family for Christmas? Your loved ones live overseas and you’re wondering how to avoid delivery costs? The Czech NGO People in Need offers a unique opportunity this year by mending gift-giving and charity.

“The www.real-gift.org is a new English version of www.skutecnydarek.cz that launched three years ago,” says Šimon Pánek, director of People in Need. “Thanks to people who purchase gift certificates in our charity e-shop, we are able to help children in an orphanage in Congo, farmers in Ethiopia, and women in Cambodia. We try to distribute assistance carefully and so we can provide our donors with a detailed and transparent report on how we used the money raised in the Real Gift campaign.”

A quarter of a million trees, 522 goats, 2,763 chickens, 86 sheep, 59 cows, 40 donkeys with carts and many other gifts have been distributed in the past year by People in Need in the poorest countries of the world.

During the three years of its existence, the Real Gift e-shop has become one of the most successful projects of its kind in the Czech Republic. So far, this year donors have bought items worth more than CZK 3 million; last year the sum topped CZK 9 million.

“We are expecting a big turnover in the next 14 days,” says campaign coordinator Tomáš Vyhnálek. “From last year’s experience, we know that most gifts sell in the run-up to Christmas.” Goats and chickens sell best, he says. Other popular gift certificates include school supplies for children in Africa.

“When we came up with the idea for the campaign three years ago, we wanted to show people a new way to donate,” Vyhnálek says. “We felt that some people wanted to know exactly how their gift was to be used and about the situation of the people they were helping. That’s why, for each product we offer, we specify how it helps and what the living conditions of the people in need are. Donors can easily find detailed information on the situation in specific countries, and stories of people whom we’ve helped.”