For decades, my dad has bought his Christmas cards from UNICEF, a branch of the United Nations that uses the proceeds to nourish and support children worldwide.
Today, that retail program has expanded dramatically. UNICEF now offers hundreds of products from artisans around the globe, from jewelry to clothing to furnishings. The online marketplace supports the artists and benefits the children’s programs.
It’s one example of how shopping and giving are merging into one transaction — and Americans increasingly want more ways to make that connection.
Whether it’s shopping for TOMS shoes or apparel at Target, which will donate blankets, meals or shoes for every purchase; using websites to shop and trigger a corporate donation like Amazon Smile; or finding your holiday gifts at a Goodwill or Salvation Army store, you have many ways to shop with a conscience.
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“Where else can you shop and give back at the same time?” said Rosemary Cruz, vice president of retail sales and donated goods at Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth, which has 21 area stores. “We have a good selection, good value pricing and 93 cents of every dollar spent goes back to fund our programs.”
Besides donated goods, Cruz said, the stores have a mix of new products for sale, including toys and automotive, educational and decorative items. Its newest store at Townsend Drive and Berry Street has loads of TCU items.
“We have a lot of foot traffic in our stores now, more than last year,” she said.
Proceeds from the stores support Goodwill’s employment, veteran and homeless programs.
Salvation Army stores in Fort Worth, Arlington and Mansfield are also seeing a lot of customers, said Chad Gorick, director of operations.
“We’re packed,” he said. “We have everything for Christmas, from trees, ornaments and lights to clothing, furniture and household items.”
Proceeds go to the nonprofit’s adult rehabilitation center, which served more than 1,000 people last year, Gorick said. Even these stores, which generally price items at a discount, have deals going.
On Dec. 22, all Goodwill stores will offer half off any item with a purple tag. Salvation Army stores offer half off clothing every Wednesday. And Gorick said the charity could use more items, especially clothing.
“Look in the back of your closet,” he said. “Usually that is stuff you never wear. Let somebody else have them.”
Cause marketing has taken off among major retailers as well — and for good reason. Half of Americans surveyed said they have bought a product associated with a cause, and 91 percent said they want more products and services tied to a good deed, according to a study by Cone Communications.
“In the midst of the ribbonization of America, where it’s near-impossible to walk down a store aisle without spotting a cause, consumers want to see even more brands engage in social and environmental issues,” said Alison DaSilva, executive vice president for Cone Communications. “Consumer demand for cause is stronger than ever, solidifying it as a savvy business strategy.”
This year, Target has partnered with TOMS to offer 50 items — shoes, apparel and accessories — and each purchase triggers a donation of a blanket to the American Red Cross, a week of meals through Feeding America or a pair of shoes to a child in need.
“We’re excited to partner with Target for the holidays and take TOMS’ One for One giving model further than ever before,” Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS and an Arlington native, said in a statement.
Since 2006, the company — which donates a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair purchased — has given away 35 million pairs of shoes.
Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays.
Give as you shop
▪ Use Amazon Smile. Start with your Amazon account, choose from almost 1 million charities — including local ones like Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County — and shop. One-half percent of your purchase will go toward that charity. smile.amazon.com
▪ Use other websites. GoodSearch and iGive offer connections to thousands of retailers that will take a percentage of your purchase and donate it to the charity of your choice. www.GoodSearch.com and www.IGive.com
▪ Shop for fair-trade gifts that support retailers in developing nations. www.TenThousandVillages.com
▪ Shop BOGO (buy one, give one) at certain retailers. When you buy an item, the retailer will donate the same item.
For children’s items, go to Everything Happy. www.EverythingHappy.com
For dog food, buy at BOGO Bowl. www.BOGOBowl.com