My family has a fun tradition. I forget when it started but we must be 5-6 years into it now. Every year we pick a Christmas gift theme for our immediate family (my parents and sisters, but this year I think my sister’s fiancé and my boyfriend are sticking to the theme too!). Past themes have ranged from material (every gift had glass last year), or had to be purchased from groupon, or had to be handmade, or whoever bought gifts closest to the amount $43.21 won a prize (except I forgot to get a prize…). We rotate on who gets to choose the theme and this year was my choice. So if the title of this blog post wasn’t hint enough, I selected….
Drum roll please…
Gifts that give back! The rules are very flexible, but I challenged the family to not just use the line “this gift gave back to the store I bought it from”. There should be some bigger project or effort tied to the gift. That can include supporting women entrepreneurs in India, providing clean water to villages in Kenya, or supporting animal rescue efforts in Houston. I might be biased but this has been my favorite theme yet! Not only are there TONS of options but I have learned so much through my searching about organizations out there doing amazing things in the world. In a time of so much hate, it has been a bright part of my year to research these programs.
Then I realized, everyone could do this but just might not be aware of the options! I am taking a risk by posting this (my family might be the only people reading this post… but spoiler: some of the sources I bought gifts from are on this list and some aren’t! Good luck guessing!) but I hope that someone might still have shopping left do to and could find inspiration from one of these organizations. Please add any others you are aware of in the comments!
Here are my favorites from my searching over the past year:
Bombas – socks are the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters. When the founders first heard this quote, they knew they had to do something. They started Bombas to make an impact on our community here in the U.S. For every pair you purchase, they donate a pair to someone in need. “Derived from the Latin word for bumblebee. Bees live in a hive and work together to make their world a better place. They’re small, but their combined actions have a big impact on the world. We like that. That’s why our mantra is bee better. We knit it on the inside of every pair of Bombas as a reminder that you helped someone in need with your purchase. And a reminder that little improvements can add up to make a big difference.”
Cook for a Cause – William Sonoma has joined No Kid Hungry with some influential friends to fight childhood hunger. Thirty percent of the retail price from select celebrity-designed spatulas will benefit No Kid Hungry. Celebrities include Bobby Flay, Kristen Bell, Faith Hill, and more.
Cuddle+Kind – Adorable prints from Cuddle+Kind provide inspiration in the form of gentle reminders such as, “The meaning of life is to give meaning to life,” and “If you can be anything, be kind.” Each print sold provides five meals to children in North America and around the world through the WFP School Meals Program, which provides nutrition to 18.2 million children in 65 countries. Cuddle+Kind also provides meals in the USA and Haiti through Children’s Hunger Fund. What’s more, each 10-inch by 10-inch unframed print contains 30 percent post-consumer waste, so they’re environmentally friendly, to boot! Hand knit dolls also make great gifts for the kids in your family.
Found My Animal – Found My Animal supports animal adoption over purchase and donates profits from their U.S. made, handcrafted goods to animal rescue organizations around the country. Based in Brooklyn, New York, their leashes are inspired by fishing knots and styles (the founder was a fisherman!). Their online shop sells leashes, collars, harnesses, and a few accessories.
Hooray for the Underdog! – Every purchase from Horray for the Underdog! helps shelter pets and animal welfare charities. The website has everything from holiday cards, stationary, pet tags, and dog toys. The holiday cards are an especially wonderful way to send out a heartful note this holiday season.
ImPaper – ImPaper (Impact Paper) is a social enterprise that ventures to bring creative and originally designed greeting cards and other paper goods that make a social impact. For every product purchased, ImPaper contributes to a specific cause to help improve the lives of others. These causes range from giving meals to the poor, planting trees, and providing vaccines for diseases. To date, ImPaper has given over 5000 meals, 1500 tetanus vaccines, 2500 anti-malarial pills and more.
Love 41 – Love 41 was founded to help victims of the Rwandan genocide. Purchases of the leather accessories and home goods help a variety of causes such as child sponsorship for orphans, free day care for single parents and low income families, after school programs, scholarships, and much more.
Love Your Melon – Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as supporting nonprofit organizations who lead the fight against pediatric cancer. Fifty percent (50%) of profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to our nonprofit partners, so far $2,828,259 has been donated. Love Your Melon sells beanies, caps, accessories, and kids wear.
LSTN – LSTN was founded with a singular purpose: to change lives through the power of music. Proceeds from sales of all LSTN products go towards giving hearing aids to people in need worldwide through our charity partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation. LSTN has helped more than 22,000 people in 9 countries.
LUSH Charity Pot – Lush’s super popular Charity Pot offers skin nourishment from hydrating cocoa butter and softening shea butter, while simultaneously offering environmental charities a token of our gratitude. Every cent you pay for this purchase (minus taxes) is donated to grassroots organizations that focus on environmental conservation, animal welfare, and human rights.
Marie Mae Company – Jillian, Marie Mae’s Founder, wanted to create a business that supported women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Thus the Marie Mae Company was born, including the Marie Mae Business School which focuses on providing practical business training to women in emerging markets, such as Rwanda, taught by women who have started businesses themselves. Each item purchased equals one hour of training at the Marie Mae Business School. Marie Mae primarily sells office products, such as notebooks, leather portfolios, and stationary sets.
Mercy Ships – Mercy Ships, a global nonprofit that operates the world’s largest private hospital ship, is staffed entirely by volunteers and brings free medical treatment and health care training to regions where care is limited or nonexistent. The website offers a variety of gifts that give back, like clothing and jewelry. of which the entire proceeds go to the charity.
Mission Belt – Mission Belt Company makes no-hole leather belts, nylon belts and an assortment of licensed NBA, NHL and NCAA belts that give back. Giving back has been part of Mission Belt since day one and is the reason behind the company name. A dollar from every belt sold goes to fight global hunger and poverty. To date, over 28K Kiva (peer-to-peer micro lending) micro-loans have been funded from the sales of Mission Belts.
Out of Print – As the landscape of how we read and experience literature continues to change, Out of Print is dedicated to celebrating our favorite stories while promoting literacy in underserved communities. Each purchase helps to fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need. It also supports the authors, publishers and artists who made these iconic works an integral part of our lives. Products include a wide variety of items highlighting your favorite stories.
Oxfam Gifts & Heifer International – These organizations are part of a global movement of people working together to end poverty. These groups take on the big issues that keep people poor: inequality, discrimination, and unequal access to resources including food, water, and land. Through Oxfam or Heifer International you can buy your uncle a goat, but not literally. Your uncle (or any family member…) will get a card expressing that their goat is now benefitting a hungry family in another part of the world. Goats, pigs, chicks, manure (not a joke), 100 trees, water jugs, etc. are just some of the gifts you can “buy” for a family member who has everything but will appreciate supporting the efforts of these organizations in struggling communities around the world.
Sseko – Sseko Designs provides employment and scholarship opportunities to women in Uganda. The brand has enabled 87 women to go to college so far and employs a team of 50 women in Uganda with jobs. Through the sale of beautiful handbags, accessories and leather sandals, they create opportunity and community for women globally.
Sudara – Sudara products provide training and living-wage employment to women who have escaped from, or are at the highest risk of human trafficking, in India. The brand also started Sudara Freedom Fund, which equips more women and children with education, housing, and micro-loans through donations. Sudara sells comfortable women’s wear (i.e. lounge pants), as well as accessories, children’s clothing, and some men’s clothing.
Ten Thousand Villages – Ten Thousand Villages is more than a store (online or brick and mortar). It’s a place where you can explore and connect with your global village. From communities throughout the developing world, every inspired product is crafted with love using local materials (usually natural or recycled) and time-honored skills by makers the company has known and worked with for years. Every purchase improves the lives of makers by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income. Ten Thousand Villages has directly impacted the lives of 20,000 makers in 30 developing countries! Products include everything from home goods to jewelry, to holiday ornaments.
The Doll Kind – For every doll purchased, The Doll Kind donates a doll to a child in need. Donations go to orphanages, hospitals, shelters, and more in the U.S. and around the world. The dolls also come with tokens that have special messages that child can give to others to spread love, kindness, and gratitude. They can leave them with a waitress, a doctor, a nurse, a grandparent in a nursing home, or as a simple gesture – in secret or not. The special message imprinted on each token, ‘Pay it Forward’, will lift spirits and encourage the passing on of this act of kindness.
The Giving Keys – The Giving Keys encourages consumers to “pay it forward” by embracing the word on your key and then giving it to a person who needs the message. In addition to spreading positivity, each purchase supports job creation for individuals transitioning out of homelessness.
The Home T – The Home T helps you show off your home state pride, stylishly. The shirts are insanely soft and made in the U.S. Additionally, every purchase provides a donation to Multiple Sclerosis Research, a disease that impacted the founder’s family.
Thistle Farms – Thistle Farms’ mission is to heal, empower, and employ women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. We do this by providing safe and supportive housing, the opportunity for economic independence, and a strong community of advocates and partners. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, they sell a wide variety of products including: bath & body products, candles, books, apparel, textiles, jewelry, mugs, holiday gift sets, and stocking stuffers.
The Soap Co. – The Soap Co. is an ethical luxury brand that creates sophisticated body care products to nurture and care for your skin. Based in East London, all their products are handcrafted in the UK by people who are blind, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged, giving them an opportunity for employment in a traditional workshop.
- What are your favorite gifts that give back?
- Did you notice some that are missing from my list?