Get the Goat This Year

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This season, the globally aware and trend conscious want to get the goat under their Christmas tree. Charitable organizations have started selling the four-legged critters and other “virtual gifts” in order to address demands for ethical gifts and increase fundraising.

Oxfam is one such organization and has launched a website to sell charitable gifts such as medicines for an entire village, training for a teacher, or even the installation of “lovely loos” to prevent the spread of cholera and typhoid. But goats and chickens have been the best sellers.

While ethical gift giving may be gaining in popularity, some critics say that these karma boosting stocking stuffers may only work as gimmicks—enticing consumers with cute pictures and overly idealistic promises. They say, without the proper resources, goats can actually be detrimental to the vegetation in rural areas.

So be kind, but beware. The Oxfam website sells its goat care kits (including training, food, water and vet care) separately.

–Caroline Dobuzinskis

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We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

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