With today being Giving Tuesday, and the gift
buying giving season being upon us, I wanted to talk a little about my approach to giving in general. I wouldn’t call this a full blown philosophy, but I do try to follow some basic principles. Here’s the annotated version: Put your money where your ideals are.
Do Good by by von glitschka via Help Ink
Give to charity
Some of the most meaningful and memorable gifts I’ve given and received have been charitable donations. From donating to Human Right’s Watch in my Mother’s honor for mother’s day when I was living abroad, to receiving the gift of donations to my undergraduate alma mater. There are a myriad of organizations out there that you can donate to, many of which will send form letters or certificates to the person in whose name you are donating. It can actually be very rewarding to spend the time to research potential recipient organizations, and select one that will be meaningful to the recipient.
Buy from conscientious sellers
If you still want something to wrap up and give as a tangible package, you can also shop with many organizations. Unicef, Sierra Club and Amnesty International all have stores. These are just a few examples, but you can also simply consider organizations working in other areas you support, be it on social issues, environmental issues or even political issues. Check their website to see if they offer anything for sale. Sometimes these may be sold off site, such as this awesome Sierra Club commuter bike I’ve been ogling.
If you’re more interested in fashion and accessories, Ethical Ocean vets sellers on their products which must be either Good for People, Good for Animals or Good for the Environment. You may also consider looking for retailers that donate a part of their profit to charity. An example is Help Ink, where beautiful art is offered, and 40% or more of the profits go to charity. The print at the top of this entry is by Von Glitschka and profits from the sale of this piece benefit Charity Water. Alternatively, Sevenly offers stylish shirts, hoodies and totes benefitting a different charity each week.
There are a ton of places to buy hand made, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Buying handmade doesn’t just mean shopping on Etsy (but that’s okay too! After all, anyone can use an infinity scarf to keep warm!). Other online retailers like The Bootstrap Project support artisans from around the world. They are a non-profit, employing artisans and helping preserve traditional handicrafts, not to mention the products are gorgeous & functional. It doesn’t get much better than that!
It is worth mentioning here that gifts you made yourself are great too! Repurpose or reinvent something, or create something from scratch! I promise, it is a lot of fun.
Shopping where you live is also a great way to spend your money. One of my favorite thrift stores in town is a not for profit, which supports a local battered women’s shelter. In particular, buying local to me means looking for local small businesses, not just the local branch of a big box store. It may seem like a small gesture, but even if you buy at a local for-profit business, you’re injecting money in to your community, and giving more security to these businesses, and those whose livelihoods depend on them. Bonus: Get yourself out there, and explore your own neighborhood! You never know what you might find…
Want some inspiration? Here are a few ideas:
- Oxfam – Pay for tools, livestock, a bicycle or instruction that can improve the income generation and livelihood of those in poverty. You can even plant a forest!
- Good Neighbors – Sponsor a child! Having volunteered with Good Neighbors in Dominican Republic, I can vouch for this as a reputable organization. The children of Los Guandules are in my heart forever. Alternatively, you can contribute to projects providing cookstoves, wells and other relief for impoverished communities in the developing world.
- Charity Water – Awesome products, profits go to providing clean water to people in developing countries
- Nisolo – Providing livelihood to Peruvian shoemakers, this is a beautiful catalogue of shoes and other leather goods
- The Bootstrap Project - These Tajik stockings by Nadzhida look beautiful & cozy, and don’t get me started on how much I love Sodiqjon’s Footstool
- Shana Logic – Support artists and craftsters by buying some nerdy, hip accessories!