It’s creeping all too quickly into the holiday season and a time that tends to involve a lot of shopping. I wanted to explore some of the options to spending in a charitable way. For me the best way to shop in a good way is to just give it a little thought and consideration. So here we go
First, there are items designated to give a portion of the proceeds to charity. It seems like this happens often with T-shirts and pink items (for breast cancer). This is probably the least effective way to give to charity. Often this percentage is on the small side. Your purchase won’t be included in any matching gifts provided by companies or donors.
These items are only something you should buy if you really want that particular item. You like the T-shirt design, you really want to spread the word about a cause you support, the percentage of proceeds going to the charity is very high and you want to support that specific charity, or it’s an item you’d buy anyway. But ask yourself if you’d do better skipping the t-shirt and making a donation instead or buying a T-shirt that you really love and make a donation with it.
Next, there are items that support a struggling community or group. It seems like there are many items from women in Africa, often jewelry. I personally really like this option. It gives people motivation and a job and often the products that are created are handmade and beautiful. This could also be as easy as shopping at your neighborhood bookstore or a locally owned clothing store. Shopping small can make a big difference in your community and in any community.
Next, there are the items that are a buy one give one model. Things like shoes or glasses where for each item you purchase another is given to someone in need.
I’m still unsure about these and feel like I need a bit more research into the topic. I’ve purchased a few but almost always because I wanted the product not because I was interested in the donation. I don’t always completely vet the organization that gives away the goods and I wonder if money would be more helpful.
Next, there are charities that sell items. The World Wildlife Fund and To Write Love On Her Arms are two that jump to mind (that I have supported). Sometimes this is the cause’s main source of revenue. Again I’d say only purchase these items if you want the item itself (and sometimes the items are pretty cool). If you don’t need another T-shirt or stuffed animal consider just donating the money. That way it can be matched and go directly to fill a need.
The last thing I’ll mention is AmazonSmile and shopping at companies who have a strong philanthropic record. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. If you’re an Amazon shopper this is pretty easy way to get a little money going in the right direction. The drawbacks are you have to pick a single charity and if you’re someone like me who has reservations about shopping on Amazon this one is tricky. But here’s the thing, you can do this yourself – take your bank statement at the end of the month and multiple your purchases by .005 and donate that to your favorite charity. It’s only 50 cents per $100 so it likely won’t hurt your budget and you’ll feel great. BeingGoodeSmile!
Shopping this time of year presents a lot of choices and difficult decisions. There are so many stores online and and real life competing for your attention and your dollars. I think the number one thing to think about when shopping charitably is to treat it like any other donation of time or money – is this a cause you want to support and is this the best way to do it?
What are your thoughts this time of year?