There's no doubt that bestowing green gifts to friends, family, coworkers, dog walkers, daycare providers, manicurists, personal trainers, pool cleaners and parole officers (be sure to check out MNN's 2010 gift guide along with my own sustainable home design-centric prezzie picks) leaves you filled with the unmistakably warm and tingly spirit of holiday giving.

But if doling out thoughtful gifts to folks that you know and love just doesn't cut it and you're in the mood to really give, consider charitable giving. Sure, you can make a monetary contribution to the do-gooding organization of your choice any time of the year but there's something truly special about doing so during the holidays.

Below you'll find 10 nonprofits that focus on improving the lives of others through sustainable building, design and housing efforts. While each of these orgs is involved in the creation of green homes and communities in some shape or form, each has a unique guiding mission — whether it's helping to end homelessness, provide housing and resources to those living with HIV/AIDS or rebuild New Orleans while treading lightly on the planet.

For more on charitable giving, check out Charity Navigator's Holiday Giving Guide. Is there an eco-oriented design/housing/building organization that you plan on donating to this holiday season that I didn't list below? Tell me about it in the comments section.

1. Architecture for Humanity

"By making a donation today you are supporting a grassroots network of architects, designers and building professionals to lend their talents and expertise in communities where there services are most needed and can least be afforded. You know design matters. Help us use the power of design to build a more sustainable future in communities around the world."

2. Make It Right

"By making a donation today you can help Make It Right bring affordable, green, storm resistant homes to 150 families in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward. There is no minimum, give what you can, even donate as a gift. With your help, we can Make It Right again."

3. Global Green USA

"Your tax-deductible contribution will support our efforts to help rebuild a green New Orleans, create sustainable communities and healthy green schools, combat climate change, eliminate weapons of mass destruction and promote access to clean water as a global human right."

4. Common Ground

"Founded by MacArthur and Ashoka Fellow Rosanne Haggerty in 1990, Common Ground is a pioneer in the development of supportive housing and other research-based practices that end homelessness. Common Ground's network of well designed, affordable apartments — linked to the services people need to maintain their housing, restore their health and regain their economic independence — has enabled more than 4,000 individuals to overcome homelessness."

5. Housing Works

"Housing Works is the largest community-based AIDS service organization in the United States, as well as the nation's largest minority-controlled AIDS service organization. Since our founding in 1990, we have provided lifesaving services, such as housing, medical and mental health care, meals, job training, drug treatment, HIV prevention education, and social support to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS."

6. Habitat for Humanity

"Did you know that your gift does much more than help families escape from unsafe, unhealthy living conditions? You're helping families to break the cycle of poverty and build long-term financial security. Habitat's affordable, no-profit house payments free up money for food, child care, medicine and other necessities. And research has shown that decent housing improves health, increases children's educational achievement and strengthens community ties. Thanks to your support, Habitat is transforming the lives of more than 1 million people around the world!"

7. Project H Design

"Project H uses the power of the design process to catalyze communities and public education from within. We are a team of designers and builders engaging in our own backyards to improve the quality of life for all.

Our six-tenet design process (There is no design without (critical) action; We design WITH, not FOR; We document, share and measure; We start locally and scale globally; We design systems, not stuff; We build) results in simple and effective design solutions that empower communities and build collective creative capital.

Our specific focus is the re-thinking of environments, products, experiences, and curricula for K-12 education institutions in the U.S., including design/build Studio H high school program in the Bertie County School District, North Carolina."

8. ShelterBox

"We instantly respond to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami or conflict by delivering boxes of aid.

Each box supplies an extended family with a tent and lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless. The contents are tailored depending on the nature and location of the disaster, with great care taken sourcing every item to ensure it is robust enough to be of lasting value. Each box bears its own unique number so as a donor you can track your box all the way to its recipient country via the website.

Highly trained ShelterBox Response Teams distribute boxes on the ground, working closely with local organisations, international aid agencies and Rotary clubs worldwide.

Since its inception in 2000, ShelterBox has firmly established itself at the forefront of international disaster relief, providing emergency shelter for the people who need it most on every continent."

9. Build It Green

"Support our work to:

  • Advocate for government support of green building practices throughout California
  • Provide scholarships to out-of-work building professionals so they can learn to build healthier, more resource efficient homes
  • Green the affordable housing industry and improve the lives of low-income California families
  • Create job opportunities for builders to design, build and remodel greener homes
  • Educate the public about the connection between homes and environmental impact."

10. U.S. Green Building Council

"Your tax-deductible donations will support USGBC's commitment to social equality through programs such as:

  • USGBC Affordable Housing Initiative, which encourages LEED-certified affordable housing by providing LEED registration, certification and verification fee remission, and more, for nonprofit and government developers of affordable housing.
  • Greenbuild Scholarship Fund, which inspires diverse students to join the green building movement by providing scholarships to the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo.
  • National Green Schools Campaign, which aims to ensure that every child attends a green school within a generation. Green schools are designed, built, and operated using strategies that can improve student health, test scores, teacher retention, school operational costs, and environmental stewardship."

MNN homepage photo credit: mattjeacock/iStockphoto

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

'Tis the season for charitable giving: 10 green building/housing nonprofits
Finished up your holiday shopping but looking to give in another way? Consider donating to an organization that helps to improve the lives of others through sus