I am a huge supporter of giving amazing gifts that also give back to those in need. Thankfully over the past few years, more and more companies have realized that they too have a responsibility to make the world a better place and consumers are craving to make purchases that make them feel good. From non-profit organizations to benefit corporations (companies that are for profit and also donate a percentage of sales to charity) and the “buy one give one back for free” model, there are many ways to make a difference.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, a time when millions of dollars are being spent on flowers, chocolates and cards, I thought it would be great to compile a list of my favorite gifts that give back. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of the enormous profits going to Hershey’s, Victoria Secret’s and Hallmark, go towards people in need? Call me idealistic but everything helps.
Here is my list of favorite picks. To see all my Gifts that Give Back, please click here.
Jewelry from Songa Designs International
Songa Designs International celebrates the empowerment of women around the world. It is typical for many women in developing countries to depend solely on their husbands for financial needs, but Songa is changing this dynamic. With Songa, under-resourced women have the opportunity to achieve economic independence by using skills acquired through everyday life to make a living. Defined as “the path forward” in Swahili, Songa is synonymous with the journey towards economic empowerment for women in developing countries. To see all their gorgeous jewelry, visit their shop here.
A beautiful leather bag from Connected in Hope
Connected in Hope is a nonprofit social enterprise & lifestyle brand that empowers vulnerable women and families in Ethiopia to rise above poverty. Connected in Hope currently employ 80+ artisans, providing them with sustainable, predictable incomes. One hundred percent of the profit generated from product sales is reinvested in programs that benefit the artisans and their families. Profits fund Connected in Hope’s innovative preschool and kindergarten, adult literacy classes, community education events and health care programs. Member of the Fair Trade Federation. www.connectedinhope.org
A gorgeous colorful scarf made by recycled Saris from Anchal Project
I have several of these amazing scarves and every time I wear one someone asks me where I got it. Designing Change Stitch by Stitch” Anchal also creates beautiful pillows and quilts each handmade out of recycled saris by Indian women rescued from prostitution. To view their complete collection, click here.
The new Anna Hamsa Sip Clutch by Bloom & Give
Bloom & Give sells beautifully handcrafted scarves and bags made in India using techniques passed on from generation to generation. Each product is designed in the US by one of Bloom & Give’s designers, and made in India with love. Bloom & Give donates 50% of their profits to support girls education programs in India through their partner Educate Girls to improve the lives of girls in Rajasthan. To shop, click here.
A beautiful pink Helena Blush necklace sold by To the Market
TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM) combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations, in the belief that resilience is more powerful than suffering. TTM showcases handmade goods made exclusively by proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict, and disease. By assisting local partners around the world in bringing these goods “to the market,” we take an active role in equipping the survivor’s they employ with economic independence, while raising awareness of the challenges that they face. To shop all their products for Valentine’s Day, click here.
New Sunglasses from TOMS
If you’re looking for a timeless look with a twist, TOMS newly renovated Beachmaster is the clear choice. This remixed classic features transparent frames, thickset beveled edges and a side order of cool ocean breeze. Below are the Beachmaster 301 Havana Tortoise sunglasses which are pretty cool. With every pair of eyewear you purchase, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need. One for One.™ To view all sunglasses for men, click here.
A belt that give back from Mission Belt
Mission Belt Company makes no-hole leather belts, nylon belts and an assortment of licensed NBA, NHL and NCAA belts that give back. Giving back has been part of Mission Belt since day one and is the reason behind the company name. A dollar from every belt sold goes to fight global hunger and poverty. To date, over 28K Kiva (peer-to-peer micro lending) micro-loans have been funded from the sales of Mission Belts. www.missionbelt.com
A pair of Troubadour Headphones with Mic in Cherry Wood from Society B
Society B A beautifully curated marketplace for good that offers socially good products for men, women and children while also donating 10% of sales to a different charity and cause each week. For every pair sold, LSTN helps provide hearing aids to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. To view all products click here. The product list is endless and provides products for men, women and children.
For the Kids
A Valentine’s Day Mashozi Teddy from Goodbye Malaria
There are plenty reasons why Goodbye Malaria’s Mashozi teddy is the perfect Valentine’s gift. Mashozi’s not your average teddy. He creates sustainable employment for upskilled women from the townships, supporting a women-owned small business in Cape Town. Made with love, for your love, the Moshozi bear is passionately hand-embroidered with appliqued hearts. Proceeds from your purchase fund Goodbye Malaria’s Spray Program in Mozambique, which allows a mother and child sleep a little easier, protected from malaria, a disease that kills more children under five than any other disease on the African continent. They come in a variety of fun, bright colors but red is my favorite. Buy a Mashozi Bear online and get it delivered by courier anywhere around the world.
Toms children’s Valentines Day shoes
Send love around the world with this Classic Aplargata featuring a sweet heart print and a polka dotted adjustable strap. With every pair of shoes you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One®. To purchase or see the entire Valentine’s Day list, click here.
For the Adventurer
A beautiful, colorful Cotopaxi Del Dia Backpack
Why not buy your loved one a beautiful Cotopaxi Del Dia backpack? Made by salvageable materials, each bag is unique and a percentage of the sale goes toward alleviating global poverty around the world. To purchase, click here.
For someone who likes to be pampered
Lotions and lovely smelling soaps from Thistle Farms
Thistle Farms is a social enterprise of women survivors of prostitution and drug addiction that would provide an opportunity for a sustainable income and life for the women. Based in Tennessee, Thistle Farms houses a natural bath and body care company, Thistle Stop Café, a paper and seeing studio and a global marketplace called Shared Trade. Today, Thistle Farms employees more than 50 survivors and benefits over 700 women a year. Proceeds support Thistle Farms and the residential program, Magdalene. The community provides housing, food, healthcare, therapy and education for two years, without charging residents or receiving taxpayer money. www.thistlefarms.org
A bar or bunch of bars of delightful Divine Chocolate
Finally I found a chocolate manufacturer that is fair trade and does not employ child slave labor like most the big brands do when gathering their cocoa. Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative in Ghana that supplies the cocoa for each bar of Divine. As owners, they get a share in the profits, a say in the company, and a voice in the global marketplace. I love Divine Chocolate! It is available at Whole Foods or online here.
For those who don’t want anything but what to give something
Action Against Hunger’s Valentine’s Day Gifts
Action Against Hunger saves the lives of severely malnourished children while helping communities become self-sufficient. Recognized as a world leader in the fight against malnutrition, Action Against Hunger has pursued its vision of a world without hunger for over three decades. Show your Valentine you think they are the bee’s knees, or get them a family of chicks to symbolize settling down. Don’t want to scare them away? Why not provide a lifesaving course of therapeutic food for a child, all for less than an overpriced dinner. Click here to view all the gifts.
The list is endless on what you can give. If you know of any wonderful gifts that give back, please let me know and I will add them to my ever growing list.