Now that the crazy Thanksgiving-to-Christmas shopping season has officially begun, it’s easy to get caught up in the acquisitional frenzy. Last year, according to the National Retail Federation, American consumers spent over 600 billion dollars.
Imagine if just a fraction of that amount went to charity, without compromising anyone’s purchases.
That’s the idea taken up by many socially conscious businesses that want to encourage people to shop. . . and to shop for good. In some cases a percentage of the purchase price is donated to a specific charity. In other cases you get to choose which organization you want to support. Some companies instead have a one-for-one policy, so for every product purchased, another is donated to someone in need. Sometimes only certain products in a catalog or on a website are listed as supporting a charitable cause, while other websites donate a percentage from anything purchased on the entire site.
So forget feeling guilty that you’re not using your medical skills to help provide obstetrical care in a developing country or join a team to surgically correct cleft palates this holiday season. Enjoy the holiday with your family, but consider gifts that will bring pleasure to more than just the intended recipient.
We’ve chosen just a few examples in different categories to get you started. If none of these items make it onto your shopping list this year, you can still put your shopping dollars to good by using the Smile.Amazon.com website instead of simply Amazon.com. Do your usual Amazon shopping, but choose a cause to receive a percentage of your purchase price. Of check out the offerings at these sites, which also donate a percentage of purchase price to a good cause:
For the wine lover:
Benefit Wines imports wines from La Fortuna Vineyards in Chile, then partners with hundreds of charitable causes and organizations. Buyers can choose a cause close to their heart for gift-giving. Choose to support T.E.A.L. About Ovarian Cancer, for instance, and you can purchase a collection of six wines—one each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, and Sauvignon Blanc—for $118.
For anyone on New Year’s:
Sales at One Hope Vineyards in California benefit the OneHope Foundation, which supports causes like preemie babies, children with autism, girls’ education. . . and many more. Their festive “glitter bottles” of sparkling wine will ring in the new year in style. A 3-pack is $177.
For a beer aficionado:
Miir growlers ($55), howlers ($40) and accessories will keep the beer lover in your life happy and hydrated, while a portion of the sale price goes to support water projects all over the world. Miir also sells bicycles ($500 to $1400), with a portion of those sales providing bikes for people without transportation in the developing world.
For the music lover:
(Product) Red is selling a special model of Beats by Dre Solo 2 headphones (and yes, they’re red). A portion of the purchase price goes to the Global Fund to fight AIDS. Among (Product) Red’s many store offerings is also a Bono “Signature” Model Guitar ($1500).
For the homebody:
For every pair of shoes or warm slippers sold by Toms, another is donated to someone in need. Actually, that’s true of every product Toms sells, including bags, eyewear, clothing, and accessories. The White Gold Boucle Women’s Slippers ($49) have just enough sparkle to make even a homebody feel glamorous on a cold winter morning.www.Toms.com
For the gentleman who hates the cold:
Cherryt Knit & Co describes itself as “purveyors of rich comfort and social good.” For every product Cherrytco sells, they donate another to a child in need. Their Gentlemen’s Hudson Wool Fingerless Gloves (approximately $36 American) are both warm and refined.
For the trendy teen:
Sevenly sells cute t-shirts with pretty images and girl-power sayings. One, for instance, has a lovely image of a bird, with the slogan, “Spread your wings and fly” ($30). Another sports a picture of a backpack that reads “Carry Hope with You Wherever You Go” ($38). Seven percent of the purchase price goes to support a featured cause of the week, updated regularly on the website.
For a woman who loves casual bling:
Among Stella & Dot’s stylish yet reasonably-priced jewelry is an Enlighten Bracelet ($39) to support the charity Every Mother Counts, helping women in developing countries receive safe, modern obstetrical care. The orange leather and polished brass bangle is right on trend, and the message embossed inside—Mother, Sister, Daughter in French, English and German--is sure to please both young and old.
For anyone who still wears a watch:
The entire 1face Watch collection is part of “a movement to change a million lives.” Shopping on the website is easy: Choose the cause you want to support (AIDS, cancer, hunger, environment, etc.), then choose a watch style (classic, touchscreen, etc.). The watches are simple and attractive, cost $31 or $79 (depending on style), and come in various colors suitable for men or women.
For the youngest member of the family:
Dsenyo’s fair trade products are crafted by artisans in developing countries who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. The Little Friends plush dolls ($24)—colorful lions, owls, monkeys and zebras—will delight babies to toddlers.
For a holiday hostress:
Glassybaby describes its offerings as “one of a kindness,” and 10 percent of the purchase of each Glassybaby tealight candle holder ($44) or drinking glass ($55) is donated to your choice of many charities. You can shop by color, name, or charity partner.
Obviously these purchases won't have as much of an impact as personally volunteering, or making a donation directly to a charity. But since you're going to be shopping for friends and family anyway, why not use the opportunity to spread your generosity even wider?
Last thing: Let your colleagues know if you have any other shopping-for-good suggestions to add to this list by commenting below. We hope you and your family have a very happy and healthy Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's!