While non-profits can definitely make a difference through acts of volunteering and spreading awareness, the truth is that the bulk of a charity’s effectiveness comes down to how much money they are able to contribute to a certain cause.
Many people choose to make direct donations to causes they feel passionately about. A large number of charities now give the option to make “indirect” donations through the purchase of particular products and items. It’s a win-win — you’re buying a product that you enjoy, all while giving back to a fundraiser or cause that’s meaningful to you. Knowing that your purchase made a difference makes the item itself that much more meaningful.
We’ve all seen the cliché keychains, t-shirts, and baseball caps that encompass stereotypical “fundraising” gear. These products have fortunately evolved over time to become much more trendy, fashionable, and useful for the consumer.
One international cause that many people hold near and dear to their hearts is breast cancer research and awareness. There are multiple breast cancer charities that now sell a wide array of fun and functional items from their ecommerce sites, such as The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's “Shop Pink” store. Described as “a shopping experience that is as gratifying as it is guilt-free,” the online catalogue offers everything from clothing to guitars, makeup to food, and even supplies sports & automotive equipment— all in pink, of course.
With Breast Cancer Awareness month approaching in October, it’s a good time to browse and see what you could buy to help fund breast cancer research. The coolest part: they display how much money from each purchase is going directly to the Foundation. Shop away.
Another company that’s put the fashion into fundraising is the TOMS Marketplace. You probably already know about the brightly-colored TOMS shoes that donate a pair of shoes for each purchase, but you may not know about their newer partners, who all have their own specific passions. Since you can shop by cause or by region, there’s no shortage of options. One featured brand, 31 Bits, focuses on creating opportunities to a group of Ugandan women who turn recycled paper into bright and colorful pieces of jewelry. In addition to compensation, the women also receive guidance and education through the cause.
If makeup is your guilty pleasure, M.A.C. currently has a line of cosmetic products in which a percentage is donated to the fight against AIDS in developing countries. The M.A.C. AIDS Fund's mission is to help those suffering from the disease in “countries and communities where others may not go.” They currently have Rihanna on board as the 2014 spokesperson. Who says you can’t look good while giving back?
Lastly, an equally as effective way to make a difference via your purchases is through iGive. The site has partnered with over 1,500 well-known stores such as Staples, Expedia, Amazon, Best Buy, Walgreens, and QVC to make a donation upon each iGive member’s purchase at the selected stores. The average donation per purchase is 3%, and they even tell you which stores benefit which causes (options cover everything from education to human rights and disaster relief). The best part: it’s completely free. The companies pay the donations, and all you have to do is sign up.
It’s now easier than ever to utilize everyday purchases to give back to causes that speak to you. Whether it’s supporting breast cancer, education, poverty, or illnesses, if you have a passion for a certain cause, it’s worth shopping where your money can give back.
Ellen Barnes is a journalist, communication specialist, and Atlanta native with more than five years of writing experience, both for magazines and blogs. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Georgia, as well as a certificate in New Media. She has been published in publications such as Atlanta Magazine and Music Row Magazine in Nashville.