Alexandria in Action: Still trying to figure out what to get?

Alexandria in Action: Still trying to figure out what to get?

By John Porter and Aline Newman

“’Tis the season” and time to figure out what to get your loved ones and friends to let them know you care and are thinking about them. The choices are many and the decisions made, while not necessarily earth shattering, can send an important message. So, if you’ve already figured it out, or maybe even bought gifts, congratulations. But if you haven’t quite gotten your thoughts together, have no fear; we’re here to help.

At a time of increasing abundance in our country, there are many who aren’t able to partake of what many of us take for granted. While many have benefited from our improving economy, there are neighbors and friends who each day are addressing health, food, housing and general well-being issues that the rest of us can only imagine. Importantly, the holiday season provides an opportunity for us not only to show our caring and concern for family and friends, but also to share the caring and concern we have for others.

So, if you’ve not yet finished your shopping, we’d like to suggest a new approach to gift-giving this year. What if, instead of buying that sweater, tie, watch or jewelry for the person who already has it all, you gave the gift of a donation to a local nonprofit in honor of your friend or loved one? It becomes a win-win-win-win, as you, the gift receiver, the nonprofit and those they serve all win. And as important, the message of the holiday season — caring
and concern for others — is truly sent.

Don’t know to whom to give? This is where we can help.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy ( is a resource that focuses on raising awareness of smaller nonprofits in our region — those with great programming but less visibility, less voice and limited capacity to tell their stories to a larger audience.

All catalogue charities are vetted by local philanthropic experts to ensure those selected are meeting important needs, are financially sound and are making an impact on the communities they serve. And while selection to the catalogue is not all-inclusive of area nonprofits, one can be assured those listed are truly among the best, which helps donors to feel confident that their giving is making a difference.

This year, the catalogue featured 76 charities, including seven that have a major presence in Alexandria:

• ALIVE! (

• Bethany House of Northern Virginia (

• Center for Alexandria’s Children(

• Friends of Guest House (

• Higher Achievement(

• Liberty’s Promise (

• Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (

There are, of course, many other exceptional nonprofits in the city, many of which have previously been listed in the catalogue.

Similarly, ACT for Alexandria ( serves as a local resource providing information on more than 120 Alexandria-based nonprofits that could use your support. ACT has the connections, knowledge and expertise in the local nonprofit arena to provide guidance and assurance of where dollars are most needed and well used. ACT also can help you figure out which nonprofits best meet your giving goals and desires. We’re just a call or an email away.

As gift decision time quickly approaches and passes, consider a gift that keeps giving, one that is in the true spirit of the giving season. Your gift of philanthropy truly will warm your heart and the hearts of so many others.

Have a wonderful holiday season and end of the year.

Porter is the president and CEO of ACT for Alexandria. Newman is the director of marketing and communications for the Catalogue for Philanthropy.