Now that Black Friday madness has all but become a national holiday in and of itself it’s long past due for a different path to our Holiday giving. You can take it slow at first so as to avoid remorseful and/or guilty feelings about your commercial shopping choices. Simply supplement all those commercial excesses that drive retail sales during the Holidays with contributions to charitable organizations. And fiscal hawks worry not: giving to non-profits is as stimulative to the economy as is shopping at the mall.

The premise is simple. Instead of buying another bangle or sweater or tie that for a member of your family or a friend, how about making a donation in their honor? I have been doing all of my Holiday shopping by way of charitable contributions for several years. Augmenting your Holiday giving through charitable giving comes much closer to what I understand to be the essence of Christmas and the path that that Jesus would have followed (for those of you who ascribe to non-secular beliefs.)

This year I’ve uncovered a really special organization that yields a bang for your buck that can’t be beat. My charity of choice is the Ounce, a Chicago-based non-profit which is the leader in the formation of early childhood development (ECE) curricula that cut at the heart of the achievement gap, advocacy of of ECE programs to opinion leaders and government officials and design of a roadmap for the evolution of model ECE facilities nationwide. Focused on America’s most vulnerable low-income children (six million of whom live in poverty) the Ounce is setting a new bar in interrupting the cycle of deprivation that, if not redressed, affects a majority of these infants, toddlers and pre-K children for their lifetimes. I have visited Ounce facilities, become acquainted with its research results, advocacy and outreach efforts and struck up personal relationships with members of its staff as well as investigators from North Carolina-based Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute who are benchmarking the Ounce’s performance.

You can make an online Tribute Gift to¬†the Ounce and thereby¬†invest in America’s future. There’s no single return that rivals the enduring benefits of early childhood education: estimated by Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman at $8 for every $1 invested. It’s a fiscal valley.

Whether you choose to join me in supporting the Ounce, consider making a lasting tribute to your friends and family by way of a donation to a charity of your choice. It’s the ultimate feel-good present.

Happy Holidays to all.

Jim