Millions of us spend December shopping for gifts. Malls and online stores offer great deals, coupon and member discounts, and a host of other enticements to get our dollars. Those dollars go into the pockets large corporations whose execs make big bucks and whose employees work their tails off and barely squeak by.
I recently found a number of websites which promote gift-giving with a social conscience. Forbes created a list of companies which donate 10% or more of their profits or match purchased items one-for-one. Some companies provide education, others clean water. Worth checking out.
American Express has promoted Small Business Saturday for years now, and they provide an online guide to help shoppers find local businesses with unique goods year round. This type of shopping allows jobs and dollars to stay local. Small businesses with their personalized service and unique goods provide a diverse, interesting landscape to our towns and cities. Without them, America would be one boring big box store.
Our Better World website provides links to unique goods made mostly overseas. Proceeds from the sales of these handmade items create a living wage for families below the poverty line.
Don't want to buy 'stuff?' Consider giving a gift certificate from a non-profit.
A personal favorite, Heifer International , takes your monetary gift and turns it into a flock of chickens or a goat. Those animals provide eggs or milk which can then be eaten or sold, creating both food and business opportunities for an impoverished family.
Kiva gives donors a chance to invest in a small business enterprise anywhere in the world. They coordinate micro-loans which can be used to purchase the goods needed to start a business. When the loan is repaid, the donor can choose a new business to support, so the same money is recycled over and over.
Interested in helping fellow Americans? Check out Society of St. Andrew's Potato and Produce Project. They organize teams who glean fields after the harvest. The produce gathered is then donated to food banks and shelters to feed the hungry fresh nutritious food.