Gifts that give back

December 4, 2014

As you do your holiday shopping this year you may want to look for gifts that give back. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re buying presents.

Gifts that give back
For-profit businesses are increasingly partnering with nonprofit organizations to give a portion of proceeds to a charity of their choice. An excellent example of a for-profit collaborating with a nonprofit is The Tea Collection, a children’s clothing company inspired by cultures around the world, and The Global Fund for Children, whose mission is to advance the dignity of vulnerable youth around the world. The Tea Collection donates 100% of the profits from the “Little Citizens” line to The Global Fund for Children. Similarly, the (Product)RED organization, founded by U2’s Bono, is associated with retailers who commit to donate up to 50 percent of the profits from the sale of RED products to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Do-gooder shopping sites
Another way to decide which gift to purchase is by going to, an eBay run site that allows you to either shop by cause or by the item you want to buy. Each product listed has a complete description of precisely where your money goes. A similar website is Ten Thousand Villages, a strictly fair trade company that sells a variety of products from around the world, helping various cultures become more economically sustainable. Also, there are many holiday bazaars that benefit charities.

Symbolic gifts
Charities, themselves, offer unique gifts that help the cause. The Nature Conservancy has a variety of choices from adopting an acre of land in Australia, to planting trees in Brazil. Or, Oxfam America Unwrapped, which lets you symbolically purchase an item for a family or village like a camel or an emergency toilet. Your friend will then receive a card with the donation. With all of these gifts, the joy is three-fold: The nonprofit receives a much needed donation, the giver gets a tax deduction and the recipient will appreciate your kindness.

Not all charitable gifts are created equally
It may surprise you to know that many charities are unaware of the fact that their name is being used on various products. For this reason, it’s necessary to look at the language the retailer is using to describe their charitable contribution. For instance an ambiguous phrase like a “portion of the proceeds go to support children’s programs” isn’t as credible as “100 percent of the proceeds from Newman’s Own products go directly to Newman’s Own Foundation.” You may even want to call the charity before purchasing a certain product to ensure that the company is actually donating a portion of the profits. The Case Foundation has many more references for holiday gifts that help others.

Local Beat: A.C.E. shopping event in New York

In six days, on December 11th, the Association for Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (A.C.E.) and the SoHo Partnership are hosting the Soho Holiday Stroll, a charity shopping event. For $20, which benefits A.C.E., shoppers will get a bracelet and have exclusive access to discounts and promotions in each store, gallery or restaurant.

Originally Posted: December 4,2009 on



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