>UPDATE: Please scroll to the bottom of this post for new links to more blog posts on gifts that give back for even more options!
When our family decided to purchase gifts for one another that would also benefit someone in need, the most challenging part was finding reputable companies that were committed to supporting artisans, helping lift people out of poverty, or giving back in some other way.
The gifts we found ranged from handmade items with a hand-written note attached from the artisan, to sports apparel that donated part of the proceeds to breast cancer research. And really, if you purchase organic coffee or fair-trade chocolate, you are helping to provide a fair wage to ethical farmers, so you could just look for the fair-trade label, too.
To give you a head start in your searches for socially conscious companies this season, I’ve compiled the list of items and companies below. Some I have direct experience with; others I’ve admired from the computer screen. I hope these links will help you shop with meaning this Christmas and escape some of the frenzy of the season. Enjoy and pass along!
Started by three college friends who discovered that children in Northern Uganda were walking miles each night just to sleep in safety from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist group in the region, they use documentary film and political action to move people to action and affect change for the war-torn region. Each DVD comes with bracelets to remind you of their story, and their storefront also has jewelry and apparel.
One Mango Tree is a fair trade organization dedicated to providing business opportunities for the women of war-torn northern Uganda. They have this sweet party dress, as well as skirts, tunics, jewelry, awesome hats!, clutches and shoulder bags. They offer fundraising opportunities for adoptive families, too, which makes me love them even more.
Coffee for a cause
World Vision is doing some pretty great stuff all over the world, and they have a gift catalog with all kinds of options for helping someone in need with a tangible gift. You can provide a business loan to a woman entrepreneur, purchase a share of a well for clean water, buy a goat for milk and income, provide a new mother and baby kit, and many more beautiful and life-changing options.
Through Heifer, you can buy a llama, sheep, goat, pig, a flock of geese or a trio of rabbits, and you don’t even have to clean up after them. The gift of animals to those in poverty can be a game-changer, offering families the chance to provide for themselves and earn a living. Peruse their gift catalog and give a gift in honor of someone you love.
Maybe you already had your heart set on a certain gift for someone, and it’s not on this blog post. That’s OK — you can still give a portion of that purchase to a worthy cause!
If you’re like me and do most of your Christmas shopping online, check out iGive. That link will take you to the page that supports “Friends of New Hope,” which is an orphanage and school in Busia, Uganda. You can also find a cause in the list close to your heart, register for free, restart your browser and then shop away! Be aware that it’s a pretty small percentage of your purchase that gets there, but every nonprofit knows that every gift counts.
Thanks for perusing my list of worthy causes for 2011. It was fun to compile everything and realize I’ve probably got everyone on my list covered with what I’ve got here. Many of these sites have more than what I’ve highlighted here, too, so be sure to click through and check them out.
If you found this valuable, please share! Send the link to your friends and spread the word — and let’s make this Christmas season more about love and less about stuff.
Some other blogs I follow have been posting similar lists. We’re featuring a few of the same companies, but there are more options on each of these posts. Check them out for even more options for making Christmas mean more this year.