Frequently Asked Questions


What is AGI's Privacy Policy?

AGI neither sells, rents, nor gives away its mailing lists to any nonprofit agency/organization or for-profit business. The donor's privacy is of utmost importance to us.

What is an alternative gift?

A nontraditional way of giving. Rather than buying yet one more necktie for Uncle George, honor him instead by giving in his name a life-sustaining gift to help abolish global poverty or to renew our planet's environment.

What is an Insert?

An Insert (gift insert designs may be slightly different) is a printed description about project for which a donation has been made. The insert is either enclosed in a greeting card and mailed to the honoree or, at the request of the donor, sent to the donor for presenting in whichever way he/she desires. The insert describes the project, but does not include the donation levels shown in the Catalog.
How can I be sure my gift is used as I have ordered?
The projects AGI lists are administered by nonprofit agencies that have made a contractual agreement with AGI to spend 100 percent of the grant made to them on the project alone. Also, they agree not to use any of the funding on their at-home administration. Donors can rest assured their donation will be used to make a difference in someone's life. AGI follows up with the featured agencies to ensure this through a reporting system which details how the donation funds were used. Furthermore, each agency undergoes rigorous screening before it is selected.

How does AGI select projects?

AGI has long-standing relationships with a number of large and small, respected aid agencies. Every year they are invited to send a detailed project proposal for the coming year. All agencies must submit proof of their non-profit status, financial documents supporting their work, a proposed project document, and written evidence of effectiveness and sustainability.
Every year AGI receives proposals for far more projects than it can include in its "Gifts Inspiring Change" Catalog. When selecting projects for the catalog, AGI uses several criteria, including geographical region, urgent need, and whether it will appeal to donors. For more information about submitting a proposal to AGI please email:

How do you make sure the money is used correctly by the agency?

In several ways: AGI's staff may travel to project locations, meet frequently with representatives from the agencies, contact them for updates and require each agency to submit written reports. AGI is also very careful to validate agencies before accepting their projects. Agencies are required to sign a binding contract before the project is accepted, stating that funds will be used only as designated by AGI.

What happens if an agency misuses AGI funds?

This is a very rare occurrence because of AGI's stringent selection process. However, it occasionally happens that an AGI-sponsored project is not successful. Sometimes this is due to circumstances beyond the agency’s control, such as rioting, war, natural disaster, etc. In such a case, AGI withholds the funds raised for the project until it can be brought back on track. This may be done by finding another agency in the area with which to cooperate, or merely by waiting until the unrest settles down. By so doing we honor the trust of our donors that their gifts will be used as they stipulated.

In very rare instances, AGI has discovered a violation of contract by an agency. AGI immediately cancels the project and the funding for it. The gifts collected are directed to another agency with a similar program. If AGI has already paid out funds to the project, these must be returned to AGI. Again, the funds will then be sent to a similar validated project.

How does AGI select food pantries and shelters for its "Hungry/Homeless Americans" project?

Pantries and shelters are chosen during the fiscal year, rather than before the annual catalog is published in July. U.S. shelters and food pantries are usually nominated by the organizers of the Alternative Gift Markets in their area. Eligible pantries and shelters are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. AGI accepts 10 pantries and 10 shelters each year to receive a grant (typically between $2,000 - $3,000) each. These agencies can apply for funding for two consecutive years only and must wait out the next two consecutive years before becoming eligible again. To nominate a pantry or shelter in your area contact
How much of my donation goes directly to the project?
Ninety percent of your donation goes directly to your project(s). AGI retains 10 percent for overhead and outreach costs. This enables AGI to research agencies and projects, write articles, design and publish its catalog and marketing materials, maintain its website, pay for office supplies and staff, and cover other necessary operational expenses. Ten percent doesn't really cover all costs of operation, which is why AGI must appeal to constituents for donations to the "AGI Mission" Fund Project 22.

What is the "AGI Mission" Fund?

This fund allows AGI to develop educational programs and projects designed to raise awareness about the need to become committed to alternative giving. This fund also enables AGI to recruit and assist more Alternative Gift Markets. While AGI has dispersed over $29 million to projects over the past 30 years, it is an annual struggle to raise adequate funding for such expenses.

For what are "Where Needed Most" donations used?

"Where Needed Most" donations go to the alternative gift projects that do not receive the anticipated donation support.  A minimum payout is guaranteed to each sponsored project and if designated donations to a project fall short, "Where Needed Most" funds are used to make up the difference.

Why should I donate to AGI instead of another agency?

AGI is a non-profit agency working to help other non-profits raise much-needed funds for their life-saving projects. We are a small staff, and office making a huge impact and pride ourselves in the service we provide, particularly the grassroots organizations featured in our annual catalog.  Agencies consider AGI to be a valuable service to them (See Reviews link on our home page). AGI is also a valuable resource for its donors because it provides a list of projects from different agencies which have already been selected for credibility and effectiveness. AGI also differs from other charitable programs by allowing its donors to specify a particular project rather than a general area, and in having no “minimum donation.”

What about confidentiality?

AGI's mailing list is completely confidential. It has never been and will never be sold, given away or otherwise revealed to an entity outside of AGI. AGI does not use phone numbers or e-mail addresses except for a problem with your order or to send AGI materials. Donors may opt-out of AGI's email communication.

How can my agency get funding from AGI?

First, an agency must have 501(c)3 non-profit status with proof from the IRS or an international governing agency. It must then go through the complete application process. (See the next question for more information.)

What documentation does AGI require from agencies?

AGI takes great care in selecting agencies. All accepted agencies must provide proof of their 501(c)3 non-profit status, financial records (audits, annual reports, budgets, etc.), a very specific project proposal, and letters of reference from other agencies.

What kinds of projects does AGI fund?

AGI funds both national and international projects in several categories: hunger relief, shelter, water, livestock, sustainable agriculture, the environment, medical assistance, peace and justice, development, child survival, education, and emergency disaster relief. Our major focus in selecting projects is: the abolition of global poverty and the renewal of the planet's endangered environment. We also select projects that have proven results in implementing long-term strategies in alleviating poverty and creating a sustainable solution to a problem.

How much of my donation is tax deductible?

All donations to the AGI projects are 100% tax deductible. Monies used to purchase goods and services (greeting cards, special postage, etc.) are non tax-deductible.


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