The holidays are mostly about shopping and giving. So why not do both?
If you want to do something more with your dollars than just buy stuff, here are five ways to help your local community at the same time.
Buy at local nonprofits. Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth has 21 stores in the area full of holiday items from decorations to clothing and toys. The same is true of the Salvation Army’s three stores in Fort Worth, Arlington and Mansfield. Most of the proceeds from store sales go to fund the charities’ programs.
Museums have gift shops stocked with holiday present options that also support the institution. Some charities like the Humane Society of North Texas and Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County will send out holiday cards for you for a donation. Check out your favorite charity and see if they have something for sale that supports the cause.
Greatest Gift Catalog Ever. Now in its eighth year, this local catalog combines the idea of a gift card with charitable causes. You buy the cards and the recipient can choose among 100 specific needs from 20 local charities. For example, a $25 gift card buys you an hour of tutoring from the Boys and Girls Club of Tarrant County; $60 buys 28 meals for homeless men, women or children through Gospel Mission.
The catalog is available at 400 outlets in Tarrant County, including all Texas Health Care offices, Edward Jones and Catholic churches. Online gift cards can be purchased and redeemed at www.GreatestGiftCatalogEver.org.
Founder Elliot Goldman said the organization has $168,000 in matching funds this year to make your gift cards go further. The catalog costs are also underwritten, so 100 percent of the donation goes to the nonprofits. In seven years, the catalog has raised more than $7 million in donations to local nonprofits, Goldman said.
Shop global. To find “fair trade” gifts that support businesses in developing nations, try Ten Thousand Villages, at www.TenThousandVillages.com or their Fort Worth location at I-30 and Hulen.
“We are known for our ornaments and nativity products from all the continents,” said Elizabeth Stripling, manager of the Hulen location. “We have products from 130 artisan groups from 35 countries.”
The retailer is a fair trade nonprofit where all artisans are paid in full upfront, Stripling said. Other products at the store include jewelry, scarves, home decor and lamps.
Another place for online global shopping is the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF at www.unicefusa.org/help/shop.
Use Amazon Smile. Who is not shopping on Amazon this holiday season? An easy way to get the giant online retailer to donate to your local charity is to go through the Amazon Smile program. And the best part is it doesn’t cost you a thing. Start with your Amazon account, choose from 2,420 Fort Worth nonprofits — from PTAs to Catholic Charities — or from more than one million other charities, and then shop. One-half percent of your purchase will go toward that charity.
Shop BOGO. The buy one, give one — or BOGO — movement is slowly growing, more through smaller online efforts than big retailers (except for Tom’s shoes.)
Some of the more interesting retailers are Bombas socks, which donates one pair of socks to a homeless person for every pair purchased (642,000 socks donated so far); Yoobi, which donates to schools in need of the same art supplies, notebook or school supplies you purchased; and Bears for Humanity, which donates a stuffed bear for every one purchased.
A study released earlier this year by Good Must Grow, a socially responsible marketing firm, showed that 32 percent of Americans are planning to spend more with companies that are socially responsible in the year ahead, up slightly from the previous two years.
Gaps in knowledge continue to derail conscious consumers, however. Almost half said that not knowing where to find socially responsible products and services prevented them from doing more good. A third said they couldn’t name a socially responsible company.
“It’s going to take a collective response from conscious companies and conscious consumers to turn this from an evolution into a revolution,” said Heath Shackleford, founder of Good Must Grow. “Better-world businesses have to find ways to more effectively connect with individuals who want to do more good. At the same time, individuals who claim to be socially responsible need to take more responsibility for seeking out organizations that are committed to social impact.”
So start doing your homework and check out these good places to shop.
Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net