Social Innovators Collective and BlendedProfit.com bring you some great social enterprise gift ideas just in time for the holidays!
By Shana Dressler and Brian Weinberg
This guide was inspired by two statistics. In 2008, Harris Interactive conducted a study for eBay which found that “more than four in five people (83 percent) received unwanted items and almost half (46 percent) resold or re-gifted that is, gave the unwanted gift to someone else as a gift.”
Then, this holiday season The National Retailers Federation forecast that 586.1 billion dollars will be spent on gifts.
If you do the math, what you’ll discover is that a shocking 486.5 billion dollars is about to be spent on unwanted gifts. With all this money at stake, Brian Weinberg, Chief Curator of Blendedprofit.com and I realized that if we could put together an amazing guide of socially responsible gifts that people actually wanted, we could inspire like-minded people to channel their collective purchasing power to support companies and organizations that share a vision of a better world.
This Social Impact Holiday Gift Guide is a result of a lot of research and recommendations from friends and colleagues in the social change space. It is in no way exhaustive and represents a sampling of the many choices that are available to consumers who want to make a difference.
- We’ve listed 3+ gifts for each section with a link to the product or landing page which gives detailed information about the gifts we’ve selected. Where possible we’ve included the price, or range of prices, for any given item.
- At the bottom of the guide, we’ve included a short paragraph about the vendors. We chose to do this for two reasons. We wanted to share the story behind the gifts we selected, often found on the purchase page or in the About Us section of each website. Additionally, each company sells gifts in multiple categories and so by listing the companies’ URLs we hope to provide a discovery component to everyone’s gift search.
- After the gift section, which makes up the bulk of this guide, we’ve listed some resources we feel you’ll find helpful. Ultimately, we see the guide as a jumping off point to showcase the many options available for this year’s holiday shopping spree.
We feel confident that you’ll find some great gifts in our Social Impact Holiday Gift Guide and hope you’ll want to share it with friends and family. In fact, it’s in your best interest to do so! You do NOT want your gift to make the New York Times Worst Gifts List.
Why should you read it?
"I really think this is where the rubber meets the road for anyone in this space. Everytime we buy things, we are voting in favor or against how companies operate (treatment of employees, sustainability, etc). These companies are doing it the right way and are struggling to survive (when their competitors are making more money per unit). This is a resource for our movement engaged in a new time of capitalism for a better world during this holiday season."
Here we go:
BATH & BODY
BOOKS, JOURNALS & MAGAZINES
CLOTHING & SHOES
ENTERTAINMENT & DINING
FOOD AND DRINK
Chocolate, Organic and Ethically Sourced
HOLIDAY CARDS & DECOR
TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRONICS
TOYS AND ACCESSORIES FOR BABIES AND KIDS
If your mantra is no more stuff, no more stuff, no more stuff or you know of someone who shares this same sentiment we have some great ideas for you. You can “give” a trio of rabbits, some bees, a sheep, a water buffalo or a camel to families around the work in need through Heifer International. Founded In 1944, Heifer created a brilliant giving model whereby the actual gift is given to a family in need and serves very often as a life-altering contribution. Meanwhile the “receiver” is honored in a meaningful way by the gift giver.
Many fantastic nonprofits have come up with similar campaigns. You might want to look on the sites of your favorite charities and see if something similar exists. A few nonprofits we’ve seen grow in the last couple years are listed below along with their holiday campaigns:
- Kopernik is an online marketplace of innovative, life-changing technologies designed for the developing world. To learn about their holiday cards, click here. To send a gift voucher, click here.
- The Water Collective brings life lasting clean water to developing communities through robust solutions and economic empowerment. Their holiday is called Home for the Holidays and is a joint campaign with the non-profit DIGDEEP, which will help 3,000 mothers in Lokando, Cameroon. Click here for giving options ranging from $25 - $900.
- She’s the First is a nonprofit organization that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate. If you would like to sponsor a girl, click here.
How to research whether or not your favorite nonprofit is actually creating positive impact in the world, or merely launching slick marketing campaigns.
- GiveWell is an independent, nonprofit charity evaluator. They find outstanding giving opportunities and publish the full details of their analysis to help donors decide where to give. Unlike other charity evaluators, which focus solely on financials (assessing administrative or fundraising costs), they focus on how well programs actually work – i.e., their effects on the people they serve. To learn more, click here.
- Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, they aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges. Check out their Holiday Giving Guide.
- Guidestar gathers and publicizes information about nonprofit organizations. They encourage nonprofits to share information about their organizations openly and completely including their mission, programs, leaders, goals, accomplishments, and needs—for free.
Brian Weinberg Chief Curator of Blendedprofit.com: Blendedprofit.com seeks to aggregate actionable resources for a community of people committed to a lifestyle that supports good business. By shifting how we interact with business throughout our societal roles, we can grow the good economy together. You can follow Brian R. Weinberg on Twitter.
Shana Dressler, Founder of the Social Innovators Collective: The Social Innovators Collective is an international network of emerging founders and professionals who work in the social enterprise and nonprofit sectors. The Social Innovators Collective's mission is to train and nurture the next wave of social change leaders so that they can demonstrate both measurable impact and achieve financially sustainability. You can follow Shana Dressler on Twitter.
DESCRIPTIONS OF VENDORS
We feature a range of lifestyle goodies – fashion, food, beauty, accessories, home decor, travel and tech, to name a few – but all are united by their craftsmanship, unique provenance and amazing aesthetic.
Askinosie Chocolate is a small batch bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer based in Springfield, Missouri. The founder, Shawn Askinosie, was recently named by O, The Oprah Magazine, as "One of 14 Guys Who Are Saving the World." They said, "Why we're fans: The philanthropically-minded chocolate entrepreneur aims to get students thinking about business ethics in a way that ¬ could have ripple effects for generations." (Wikipedia)
Better World Books
Better World Books uses the power of business to change the world. We collect and sell books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders. Thus far, we’ve donated over 5 million books to partner programs around the world. Our four primary literacy partners are Books for Africa, Room to Read, Worldfund, and the National Center for Family Literacy.
Our team works with expert curators and leverages scientific resources to find exceptional products that are either certified as organic or eco-friendly, or that skip toxins found in many conventional brands and products, or that have a people and planet positive approach in the DNA of the business. We introduce these products to you via flash sales and our discovery boxes.
Cards From Africa
Cards from Africa is a part of a new generation of African businesses setting a trend in our divided world. We make high quality products, made in one of the poorest countries, available to the international market at competitive prices. In return, we offer well-paid employment to those who need it the most.
Creativity Explored provides a supportive studio environment for artists with developmental disabilities in which they receive individualized instruction from mentoring artists, quality art materials, and professional opportunities to exhibit their work. Artists at Creativity Explored communicate through their art. In expressing their thoughts, emotions, experiences, and cultures to their peers, instructors, patrons, and art lovers, they also engage with a broad and supportive community.
At DoGoodBuyUs we believe the world can't change until consumerism does. That is why we created the largest marketplace of charity-made products. Now anyone can "do good" just by buying beautiful, often hand-made items that support the worthiest causes. From tea to t-shirts, from rain boots to coffee, from jewelry to soaps, the list of amazing products goes on. Even better, with each purchase, 50%+ of the proceeds are dedicated to fighting poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation and other life-threatening ills around the globe.
Exotic World Gifts
Helping others is our passion. Experiencing diverse cultures is enriching. Hearing Artisan stories is heartwarming. From these experiences we bring you authentic treasures rarely available in the US. We support distant villages by offering you fine handcrafted items rich in tradition and cultural diversity. Gifts come from: Africa, Bali, Cambodia, Central America, India, South America, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Falling Whistles is a campaign for peace in the Congo. The whistle is a symbol of protest and we ask individuals to be whistleblowers for peace. We invest the proceeds from the whistle sales in Congolese visionaries, and we are building a global coalition for peace. We began with a small story inside our world's deadliest war; a single story of a single day. We learned of children sent to the frontlines, armed with only a whistle. That story birthed our symbol and was forwarded around the world to readers who wrote back asking, What can we do? How can we help? We have been working to answer their questions ever since.
FEED began in 2006 when acclaimed model and activist Lauren Bush designed a bag to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme's (WFP) School Feeding program. Lauren took a special interest in WFP's School Feeding program, which feeds and educates hungry children. She first created the FEED 1 bag, a reversible burlap and organic cotton bag reminiscent of the bags of food distributed by WFP, to help raise funds and awareness around these school feeding operations. It was stamped with "FEED the children of the world" and the number ‘1’ to signify that each bag feeds one child in school for one year. And in 2007, FEED Projects LLC was founded by Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson to produce and sell these bags.
To scale community, Marissa Feinberg, co-founder of Green Spaces, and Janice Caillet, launched Flockd, a real-world app for connectivity and productivity, inspired by the coworking movement and social concerns like what’s happening in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. It’s Marissa’s dream to create a new way for people to connect offline. It is Janice's dream for everyone to live 'on purpose' which requires, among other things (such as knowing your purpose), a combination of creating genuine relationships and productivity.
Gifts With Humanity
Gifts With Humanity is the retail division of Global Fair Trade Crafts. Global Fair Trade Crafts was founded in 2002 by Kevin Ward and Renice Jones, who met as volunteer computing teachers in Kenya and realized the capacity of the web to help individual artisans. After three years in Kenya they came to the USA and setup Global Crafts, initially as a small Fair Trade retail store. It soon became apparent that to sell in volume and change the lives of the artisans, the wholesale business would have to grow. Global Crafts has become a $1 million a year outlet for Fair Trade artisan handicrafts.
Given Goods Company
Given Goods Company is a marketplace that encourages social change and the buy-to-give movement by delivering carefully curated products made by ambitious brands that benefit causes around the world. Given Goods Company offers fashion-forward apparel, accessories, footwear, home goods and more from sought-after brands as well as up-and-coming designers that make a tangible impact.
Global Girlfriend was created by Stacey Edgar in 2003 to help women worldwide gain economic security while providing you unique products and a simple way to help women in need. Our Fair Trade boutique offers a line of trend-setting, women-made, Fair Trade products including stylish apparel, accessories and gifts with one purpose – helping women in need help themselves.
Global Goods Partners
Global Goods Partners is a nonprofit organization that sells handmade, fair trade products in order to improve the economic status of women in marginalized communities around the world. We work with nearly 40 artisan groups which collectively employ over 3,000 women in close to 20 countries. Our online store offers socially-conscious consumers a direct connection to artisan partners that are changing women’s lives by helping them to build sustainable livelihoods.
Hand Crafting Justice
HandCrafting Justice provides access to Fair Trade markets for unique, handmade goods created by enterprising women in the developing world working to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. By fostering self-reliance, ensuring fair wages, and building support networks, the organization offers far more than Fair Trade. HandCrafting Justice promotes human dignity by empowering women to overcome social and economic injustice.
We believe that fashion should be about creating beauty and social change. Every Hidden Baby product has a baby hidden within the design to represent babies hidden from society's sight. We donate a portion of our profits to organizations helping babies-in-need. We believe that we are all in this together, and the choices we make, from what we create to what we buy, can change the world.
LittleBonsai is developing a portfolio of household products that help to reduce the amount of preventable waste in our lives (like the waste generated by toothbrushes). As designers and engineers, we believe in a responsibility to reduce the environmental impact and to maximize the social value of everything we bring to market.
Indego Africa is a non-governmental organization and 501(c)(3) non-profit social enterprise that partners with cooperatives of women artisans in Rwanda on a Fair Trade basis, sells its partners handmade accessories and home décor products on its online store and at more than 70 U.S. retailers. It invests 100% of its profits from sales and fundraising into its tailored long-term skills training programs for the co-ops in business, literacy, and computers, all taught by Rwanda’s top university students.
KNO Clothing uses fairly traded and organic cotton, or a sustainable blend of organic cotton, recycled polyester and natural rayon polymers which means our clothing is made with the people who made it in mind. Doing so supports living wages for workers and protests slave labor. When you shop at KNO, we give 50% of our profits to help end homelessness. Your purchase provides an article of clothing to someone in need and supports the work of our partners in over 150 different communities across the United States. To date, our partners have housed over 19,000 people. Since November 2010, we have hand delivered 1,250+ articles of clothing to our neighbors in need.
Kopernik is an online marketplace of innovative, life-changing technologies designed for the developing world. Their website showcases the latest technologies. How it works is that local groups (NGOs) choose what is most needed in their area and apply online for funding.
After vetting, Kopernik posts the project on their website so that you can choose what you want to fund. The technology is shipped directly to the local NGO, avoiding middlemen, so more of a donor’s money (in the form of technology) reaches the end user. A donor then receives feedback about how each donation has helped people’s lives.
Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa. Less than 1 percent of chocolate is made there. We make fine chocolate in Africa. It’s a revolutionary idea in the chocolate world (some would even say a bit crazy). There are a thousand reasons why it isn’t usually done. But, it’s an idea that can make the world a better place, generating 4x more income than Fair Trade cocoa alone. Every Madécasse bar you savor starts the change in one, small corner: Madagascar.
Here, visionary women rule and fresh, new design is the law. We were founded on one basic principle: empowering women through ethical fashion. Our designers are of the moment, our products are ethically sourced, and profits are reinvested into women’s entrepreneurship projects. The goal? To create a marketplace where items are designed with both beauty and social consciousness in mind.
Makeshift is a quarterly print magazine about creativity in informal economies, from the favelas of Rio to the Internet underworld. These are environments where regulations and resources may be scarce but where ingenuity is used incessantly for survival, enterprise, and self-expression.
Mercado Global is a nonprofit organization that connects highly skilled women artisans in Guatemala’s Highlands to U.S. specialty retailers. Our products are developed by our in-house design and merchandising team and then made by Guatemalan artisans with many years of experience and the highest level of craftsmanship. Mercado Global’s partners include Levi Strauss and ABC Carpet and Home, among others. Newsweek has featured Mercado Global on its cover, and Good Morning America, Elle Decor, and others have showcased the organization’s designs.
New York Mouth
We love food. We love indie food. We love hand-crafted, hand-made and small-batch. We love New York. We love tasting things on little wooden spoons. We love delicious. We can’t help but love beautiful packaging. We love our passionate, risk-taking, up-all-night food makers. We love our customers. We carbon-offset all of our UPS shipping via their excellent program. We try to use sustainable packaging and support products and businesses who do the same. We're happy to offer people the ability to donate money to food-related charities and other good causes.
Inspired by travel and adventure, the Object Mythology team brings you items with the highest quality in material and craftsmanship from around the globe. We comb through the markets of Buenos Aires, Peru and Cambodia for one-of-a-kind treasures and we identify and build partnerships with highly skilled artisans groups in developing countries to execute our design vision and make a social impact.
One World Projects
One World Projects is an established industry player in the Fair Trade, socially and environmentally conscious market. Founded by Phil Smith in 1992, One World Projects imports and distributes Fair Trade household goods, jewelry, fashion accessories, gifts, toys and more handmade by more than 80 artisan groups in over 20 countries throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Peacekeeper Cause-Metics is the first cosmetics line to give all of its after-tax, distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues. PeaceKeeper builds a bridge between extraordinary women in the land of plenty and extraordinary women who, by chance of birth, don’t have our resources or opportunities.
We aspire to partner with thousands of women, providing them with a unique opportunity through candle-making: an opportunity to not only survive, but to truly thrive. Our Shared Prosperity business model acknowledges the women we work with as key partners in our business. It’s this business model that enables us to share our financial success with them. You can help empower women in distressed areas of the world now, just by giving a gift.
At Roozt, every purchase makes a difference. All featured brands are fashion-forward companies that are making a positive impact in their community, environment, with their employees, or with humanity as a whole. Our team of experienced curators hand selects only the best, most trendsetting brands that give back so you can enjoy a streamlined shopping experience while saving time and money.
Rubina is a new kind of online shop that allows you to buy luxury hand-crafted accessories, while helping women artisans around the world. Rubina directly connects you with the artisans who make your products, allowing you to become active partners in building their businesses as they make positive change in their own communities.
She’s The First
She’s the First is a nonprofit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate. Only one in every five girls in the developing world finish primary school. In the countries where we work, the rate of enrollment for girls in secondary school is only 33 percent. That’s only one in three female students! Yet, less than two cents of every development dollar goes to girls. 100% of your donation to She's the First will directly sponsor a girl in primary or secondary school at one of our eight partner programs in developing world countries.
Soap Hope invests 100 percent of its profits every year into anti-poverty nonprofits. These organizations use the funds to provide loans, training, literacy, healthcare, and other services to women in poverty. This approach can permanently lift whole communities out of poverty, providing families with the resources and skills they need to be self sufficient. We call our program "Good Returns."
If you can buy products from Soap Hope for the same price as another website or retail store, wouldn't you choose to purchase from Soap Hope? You get the same great products, but we will invest ALL the profits into organizations that transform the lives of women.
TCHOSource is our unique program dedicated to partnering directly with our growers and working closely with them to produce great cacao. We provide innovation, technology and know-how that empower them to improve their livelihoods and hone their craft. They provide the superior beans that enable us to produce obsessively good chocolate. TCHOSource is the ultimate win-win; setting the stage for long-term growth and sustainable development through fulfillment of mutual self-interest.
Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, serveware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. One of the world's largest Fair Trade organizations and a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), the company strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 38 countries.
The Water Collective
Twenty to 70 percent of installed water wells in sub-Saharan Africa are no longer functioning. In the estimated 1-4 billion people without safe drinking water, millions have been stripped of a water source they used to have. What’s the cause for failure? Money. Keeping clean water flowing requires a supportive economy to pay for eventual maintenance and repair costs. With an average income of less than $1/day, many developing communities cannot afford to keep their water source running. The Water Collective brings life lasting clean water to developing communities. Through robust solutions and economic empowerment, we keep clean water flowing for years to come.
UncommonGoods is an online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices. At UncommonGoods, we believe that creativity and the expression of individuality represent two great human treasures. We have set out to create a business that makes UncommonGoods accessible to everyone.
Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses. This means that 15% of the global population cannot effectively learn or work – a problem that Warby Parker is determined to address. We've partnered with nonprofits like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. We believe that everyone has the right to see.
Who Gives A Crap
We're a toilet paper company that uses 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world. We started Who Gives A Crap because we saw that 2.4 billion people, approximately 40% of the global population, don’t have access to a clean toilet. As a result, a lot of people end up sick, often with a form of diarrhea-related disease. The impact of this problem is huge. Diarrhea-related disease fills half of all hospital beds in sub-Saharan Africa, and kills 4,000 children under five every day.
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