For high school my mother did not approve of any of the schools in my neighborhood. They were known for overcrowded classrooms and occasional violence.
So my mom did her research and discovered A Better Chance (ABC), an organization that links bright students to top private schools. Thanks to ABC I had an amazing high school experience at a boarding school where I was prepared for college and developed lifelong friendships.
My positive experience is why I donate to ABC annually and chose them as my charity on AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile donates 0.05 percent of my purchases to ABC or other worthy causes every time I buy eligible items. The products I buy on AmazonSmile are the same price as those on Amazon. So I pay nothing extra, while AmazonSmile donates money to charity just because I bought something I was going to purchase anyway. For your purchase to qualify for donations, you must shop on smile.amazon.com, but if you bookmark the page you can get in the habit of searching for and purchasing Amazon products this way.
Programs, like this one, can help a worthy cause raise extra money each year and can make a huge difference for groups with limited budgets and big causes. To make your next shopping experience more charitable, check out these tips on how to support a worthy cause, just by shopping, and impact those in need.
You Buy, They Give
Most people are familiar with (RED) products, Toms and Warby because their big brands are paired with huge charitable campaigns so you know that your purchase supports HIV and AIDS programs, shoes for someone in need or glasses for nonprofits. However, there are many more companies giving back to worthy causes with every purchase you make. Below are just a few places where you can buy cool, trendy items and still support causes such as school supplies for inner-city youth and jobs for victims of sex trafficking.
Punjammies is a subset of Sudara, a company that makes robes, PJs and other clothes for you to relax. Each Punjammies purchase also helps women in India remain free by providing them with jobs and training to keep them out of the sex slavery business. The PJs are cute, trendy and, most importantly, empowering.
State Bags were started by a married couple in Brooklyn, NY and has bloomed into a fashionable backpack craze. Under their #GiveBackPack campaign for each backpack purchased, they donate a backpack with essential school supplies to a local child. The company has even put a new spin on the fanny pack so you can give back and while shopping for this modern classic.
Causebox is a subscription-based business that sends its members boxes filled with limited edition products such as apparel, beauty products, artwork or jewelry made by socially conscious companies supporting a worthy cause. They also include a little bit of knowledge in each box so you might learn about social issues you didn’t know about before. It’s the best combination of a public awareness campaign and trendy, eco-friendly shopping. Folks are paying about $50 a quarter for a box. You give a little and learn a lot.
Do Good Websites
In addition to AmazonSmile, there are other websites that donate to your charity of choice when you buy products from their site or participating partner organizations. Below are just a few websites that can help you buy more impactful gifts.
Greater Good allows you to contribute to several causes that support people, animals and even the environment. They also donate money to causes without a purchase if you participate in one of their click campaigns. Clicking on specific links equals support or aid for ongoing campaigns such as support for war veterans. The clicks cost you nothing. Donations raised through website purchases are donated to GreaterGood.org, which then funds U.S. and international charities. They fund everything from medical research to support for endangered animals or abandoned pets, and rainforest conservation projects.
Gift Back is for the company or individual that still believes a good old fashioned gift basket can make all things better. With each gift basket purchase, Gift Back donates 10 percent of your purchase to one of the 100 charities they support. These classic gifts are great to give but even better to eat.
iGive and Good Shop are online stores where you can buy products on your shopping list and sometimes they also have discount codes and coupons. Both sites have partnered with hundreds of stores such as Walmart, Kohl’s, Foot Locker, Office Depot and Best Buy. You can also purchase items from websites like Expedia, Fandango or Etsy. On iGive and Good Shop you can buy brands you know and trust. The fact that you can use discount codes and coupons is a bonus. You do not pay extra for the products you buy and sometimes you pay less for the same products available at higher prices on other websites. The amount of your purchase that is donated to charity may vary depending on where you shopped, but iGive claims to donate on average 3 percent of your purchase to a charity or cause you choose.
Do Good Directly
Giving to causes that mean something to you while shopping can be fun. But it never hurts to set aside a portion of your monthly or annual budget to give directly to charities that share your passion to do good. When you donate directly to a nonprofit organization it also cuts out the middleman. Direct donations tend to have less administrative fees and a higher impact on the eventual recipient because they go directly from you to the organization’s community causes.
If you can afford it, try to donate at least 10 percent of your annual income to charity and then progressively increase what you give as your income and investments grow. Best part about direct donations is that you — not the third party that donates a portion of your purchases — get the tax write off.
If you ever want to know the real impact of your donation check out Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates most major charitable organizations and let’s you know how much of your money is going to a cause versus company overhead expenses. Do your research before you give so you can give with confidence. Make sure your money is going to the causes you want to support.
Do you have a website or company you like that is doing good with each purchase made? Share with our community more places where we can support community causes while shopping for those we love.
Acquania Escarne is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and licensed insurance agent. Passionate about financial literacy, she also blogs about ways to help you improve your money habits on Medium. Follow Acquania on Twitter and Facebook for daily tips.