The best ways to support worthy causes by buying cool products.
Do you have a real-life do-gooding dilemma? Please send it to email@example.com , and Patty and Sandy will try to answer it.
I would love to buy gifts from organizations that support worthy causes. Is there a Web site with a comprehensive list of organizations that support fair trade, women in business, charities, etc.?
Allison, my mom and I already confessed our love of shopping, so it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed researching your question. I'll start by saying that while I know you can always give a donation in someone's honor (or even give them a gift certificate to make a donation to their charity of choice), sometimes nothing beats a big present with a bow on top. It's not as efficient as a direct donation, but as long as you're buying a gift, why not make it a "gift that gives back"?
I know that the number of so-called charity products on the market can be overwhelming. So, in the interest of brevity, I'm going to focus on two specific ways of buying good gifts.
First, you can buy regular products for which a percentage of the proceeds go to charity. These include items such as Product (Red) iPods ($10 to the Global Fund), Lush's cocoa butter body lotion (100 percent of the retail price, minus taxes, donated to environmental and humanitarian organizations), and pink playing cards (10 percent of sales donated to breast cancer research).
There are also Web sites where you can buy everything from ink cartridges to wedding dresses and direct a portion of your purchase to charity. One of the best-known is GoodShop, the sister site to GoodSearch. With more than 1,000 stores and 80,000 charities and schools, it's hard to imagine you won't be able to find a gift for everyone on your list. (GoodShop is a portal: You ultimately shop directly on the retailer's site.) Nonprofit Shopping Mall is similar. Shoppers can choose from more than 70 well-respected charities and 200 retailers (Target, Amazon, etc.). You pay the normal price, and retailers donate some percentage of the proceeds to charity. Forgetful shoppers can download an EZ Shopper Widget to make sure your favorite charity gets paid every time you shop on one of the designated retailers' sites.
Giftback sells products from 11 different stores on its own site. It has a standard 10 percent donation rate for all products and allows shoppers to choose from more than 200 charities.
Sandy Stonesifer works on issues related to adolescent girls' health at a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.