Yesterday I explored the topic of charitable giving gone wrong, ways in which well-intentioned giving can cause problems. I still have charity on my mind, and when I came across a mention of donations to charity included in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, I knew I had to go find the catalog to read more.


The Christmas Book’s Fantasy Gifts section is known for featuring over-the-top items, and I expected to see an option that donates six figures to charity; instead I found a custom library with a six-figure price tag. However, the library includes a $2,500 donation to nonprofit organization, First Book.


Shoppers can spend $125,000 on a library and a measly 2 percent of the purchase price is donated to charity. Sure, $2,500 will buy a lot of children’s books, but when I think of a fantasy-like charitable donation, $2,500 is not the first figure that pops into my mind.


First Book isn’t the only charity that stands to benefit from the Neiman Marcus fantasy gifts. will receive a $10,000 donation if someone purchases the Dancing Fountains from Wet item. Imagine having a dancing fountain in your own yard. You won’t have to go to the Bellagio to see a great water show, you’d merely have to step outside.


Don’t get too excited, though. Unless you have a spare $1 million, you won’t see this gift in your stocking on Christmas morning. With a $1 million price tag, a $10,000 donation is only 1 percent of the purchase price, an even worse ratio than the First Book donation. While I think the 1 percent nod to charity is less than ideal, the fact that this water-hogging fountain is being used to help support a water-related charity is a joke.


Honestly, I think Neiman Marcus missed the mark with its fantasy gift-related charitable donations. How about “selling” a trip to Africa where the buyer gets to help build wells in rural villages? All of the proceeds from the sale can then go to a nonprofit instead of a paltry 1 or 2 percent. What do you say Neiman Marcus — will we see these types of fantasy gifts in next year’s catalog?

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