Gifts that Help the World
IMPACT Journeys is about making a difference in the world so it seems to make sense to do a blog post about Christmas gifts that help the world. These ideas cover gifts that provide income for disadvantaged communities, purchases that include a donation, gifts where you buy one and an identical one is donated, and charitable gifts.
Of course up first has to come contributing to someone’s travel dreams that make impact. IMPACT Journeys provide income for marginalized locals, give travelers the opportunity to purchase goods directly from artisans, and include volunteering for a couple of days on needy projects. For more information, please click on Upcoming Trips.
One of my favourites is a small organization working in the Holy Land. The Palestinian Christian population is declining rapidly (down t o about 1% now), as many find it challenging to live in a Muslim-dominated nation and the lure of opportunities to Western countries. Therefore, it is important to support those left and through The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation you can purchase goods such as Christmas ornaments hand-crafted from olive wood, olive oil, ceramics, jewellery, etc.
Global Goods Partners offer an array of handmade and fair trade gifts from eco-friendly items, to gifts for babies/children or dogs, to home and office décor, jewellery, and more. Through your purchases, you are helping to empower women, alleviate poverty and promote social justice. They partner with community based organizations in marginalized regions of Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. Unfortunately this site is only for U.S. shoppers.
What I especially love about Cards From Africa is that they are made from simple office waste, and without chemicals since the traditional African method of making paper is used. They are beautifully crafted cards, all made by hand in Rwanda, and help families affected by AIDS and genocide to rebuild their lives. They are also committed to fair trade principles and their employees bring home an income that is 4 to 6 times higher than the average Rwandan’s $1 per day.
Gifts of Life sell beautiful handcrafted gifts from around the world, many which are made with recycled materials because that is what the artisans have to use. Purchasing these products give the dignity of work and promotes self-sufficiency for the many struggling artisans.
One of my favourite shops is Ten Thousand Villages. Their gifts are so unique, made from around the world, and are fairly traded. Ten Thousand Villages is run primarily by volunteers and you can purchase online or at one of their many stores.
At Somaly Mam Foundation they help survivors of modern day slavery. You can help too by purchasing a survivor-made product which helps the survivor become financially self-sufficient.
SERRV works to eradicate poverty through their direct connections with low-income artisans and farmers. They sell handmade, fair-trade items from around the world. They pay a fair wage and guide sustainable development.
Justine, in her Culture Every Day blog, wrote about “5 Globally-inspired Gift Ideas” that help marginalized people. They are great ideas so please check them out too.
Gifts that make a donation with purchase:
What’s especially great about LUSH, is that their products are not tested on animals, and they use little or no preservatives or packaging. Their ‘Charity Pot’ hand and body lotion is made with fair-trade cocoa-butter, and proceeds—100 percent after taxes—go to the organization featured on the lid of each pot., such as WaterCan, TreePeople, Amazon Conservation Team and International Fund for Animal Welfare. Check out LUSH Canada, LUSH USA, or LUSH UK.
Over at 365 Give, Jacqueline wrote “8 Ways to Shop and Give This Holiday Season”. You’ll want to bookmark this great reference.
Buy One, Give One gifts:
There has been a lot of criticism about companies that offer “buy one, give one”, such as encouraging consumerism, killing entrepreneurship in places like Africa, and damaging local businesses. I completely agree that, for a multitude of reasons, it is much better to help people generate their own income to make their own purchases. The reality, however, is that until that happens millions of people are going without things they need or things that could really enhance their lives. I believe there is a place for the “buy one, give one” model that is too in-depth to explore here, but since it can be a good thing I wanted to include some options.
With BoGo Light you can purchase a solar flashlight and they will give another one to a community in need. These are rugged solar lights that are distributed all over the world, giving a clean, safe, renewable light source to families that would ordinarily rely on kerosene and candles.
At Smiled Squared, buy a sustainable toothbrush online and another toothbrush will be given to a child or adult (your choice) to give them the opportunity for clean, healthy teeth. These toothbrushes are crafted from biodegradable bamboo and boxed in biodegradable packaging.
One World Futbol is the same size and weight as a traditional soccer ball, but it never runs out of air so maintains its play quality no matter how much it’s used. When you purchase one of these balls, another ball will be donated to areas such as Somalia and Haiti. Play is such an important part of life and kids in underprivileged areas will often have to create their own balls from trash and twine.
Instead of buying more things for others, how about making a donation in their name? You can make it more interesting, by picking out something that represents the recipient’s values, interests or occupation. Gifts include animals, school supplies, helping an entrepreneur, and much more.
Some of the major international aid organizations that have this gift giving option include:
Search for gift packages at Universal Giving, who coordinates donations to more than 200 aid organizations. Your recipient will receive a customized e-card from UniversalGiving, telling them about your gift to a deserving cause in their honour. If you’ve had enough sweaters and socks, create a gift registry and invited loved ones to give meaningful on your behalf.
For the animal lovers in you life, how about “adopting” their favourite animal through Defenders of the Wildlife? All adoptions include a plush animal toy and a certificate of adoption. Available in the U.S. only.
You can also “adopt” an animal through the National Wildlife Federation and receive a free 2012 calendar and free shipping on adoption kit.
By adopting through the World Wildlife Fund, your gift recipient will receive a fun and educational adoption kit, including a personalized adoption certificate, a high-quality wildlife plush and collector card, a recycled gift bag, and details on the work this gift will support. This symbolic adoption is also available in French.
Only Positive News has a wonderful list of “Holiday Gifts that Give Back” that is definitely worth checking out.
One of the choices Only Positive News wrote about is Kiva. This is one of my favourites because it’s about lending money to disadvantaged individuals to start or expand a business. The focus, therefore, is on sustainability and helping people have the dignity of earning their own income. It’s also great because all it takes is a $25 loan and your gift recipient can go to Kiva’s website, read through the stories and see photos of entrepreneurs looking for loans, and decide which person they would like to lend to. It provides so much more involvement from your recipient than simply making a donation, which can not only be fun but also educational and inspiring. When the loan is paid back, the recipient can choose to loan it to another entrepreneur (or even withdraw the money). It’s a gift than can keep giving and giving and giving…
Green Gifts by the Natural Resources Defense Council feature over 40 gifts that help protect the environment and wildlife.
If you’re not sure who what cause your recipient would like to support, or you want to give them more choice, give a charity card of any amount and let them choose who the donation goes to. You can choose card design, or upload your own. You choose between (1) printing the gift card on your printer, (2) sending an instant gift card by email or (3) sending a plastic (100% recycled) gift card by regular mail. Charities are US-based but many are helping internationally and Tisbest accepts international orders (although the plastic cards are only available within the US; otherwise can send an e-mail card).
For many more ideas on gifts that generate income, give their product or donations to those in need, or are environmentally friendly, please visit Giving Brands. They have an amazing collection of ideas and it is encouraging to see how many companies are including social good in their practices. Imagine if we all purchased from these types of companies only. Change within other companies would happen quickly!
Please add your thoughts below in comments, and spread these ideas to others too.