Holiday Gifts that Give Back

This holiday season, show that you really care by giving gifts that help those in need (and I don’t mean your spoiled niece).

It’s that time of year again – the Holidays!   A time to spread joy and cheer, to spend time with friends and family and show them that you really care.  So, why am I standing in a crowded mall, wracking my brain about what gift to get Aunt Millie, Grandpa and the sister that has absolutely everything?

We’ve all been there – and odds are, many of you are experiencing that holiday gift-giving panic right now.  Take a deep breath, put down the Chia Pet and let’s talk. 

The recent Edelman goodpurpose Study showed that nearly two-thirds of Americans are involved in supporting good causes and more than 8 out of 10 say that they personally care about supporting issues like reducing poverty, providing equal opportunity to education and protecting the environment.  So, when the holidays come along, why do we lose sight of all that goodwill and head straight for the Tickle Me Elmo? 

This year, I challenge us to gift like we really mean it. There is an ever-going list of companies and nonprofit organizations offering holiday gifts that support those in need.  To get you started, here is a cheat sheet of unique gifts that “give back” (from under $15 to over $200) to help you become a holiday hero.


ONEHOPE offers award-winning wine with 50% of profits going to charity.  Does Aunt Millie like Chardonnay? Fifty percent of your purchase benefits the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Is she more of a red wine drinker? Fifty percent of the Pinot Noir profits go to Children’s Hospitals.

Charity:Water Gelaskins

Stylish gelaskins for iphones, ipads and laptops from Charity:Water will look cool while providing clean water to those in need.  100% of purchases go towards providing clean water to people in need.

Amharic Kids- Buna Ethiopian necklace

This necklace from Amharic Kids is hand made by women with HIV in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In addition to creating income opportunities for the artists, the project provides adult literacy, math and healthy lifestyle classes for individuals in the community. Now that’s a beautiful thing.

rebel magazine

For that 20- or 30-something guy in your life, check out rebel, a hip new men’s magazine that looks at all things manly – from cars to surfing – but with an eye towards the “good” things in life. According to the magazine, “Rebel media is a group of guys (and a handful of girls) that believe in change. Not cosmetic change found in spray on tans and six pack abs, but the sort of transitional change inspired from within”. Fifty percent of the profits from every rebel magazine go directly to a charitable organization featured in the publication. 

TOMS Shoes

For every pair purchased, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS has donated over 115,000 pairs to needy children worldwide. With help from holiday shoppers, the philanthropic footwear company hopes to donate 30,000 pairs to children in Ethiopia this holiday season.

Plates with Purpose

Riverside Design Group’s Plates with Purpose are custom glass plates designed to raise awareness of the mission of many non-profits like the National Autism Association and Alzheimer’s Association. Choose from 12 different designs all associated with causes that are making a difference in today’s world.

Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Sampler from Equal Exchange

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Give this chocolatey gift basket and support small-scale farmers through Equal Exchange. Your friends and family will get delicious organic chocolate bars, organic Spicy Hot Cocoa and an Equal Exchange Ceramic Mug.  The gift supports small farmers, their communities, and the planet we all share.

Invisible Children- MEND Collection

A great student gift.  The MEND Collection includes hip handbags and messenger bags made in northern Uganda by former LRA abductees whose names are sewn into each bag.  Along with the name comes an online profile with videos and photos letting you connect your bag to the story of the woman who made it. 

Make a Direct Impact

If you want to give your friends and family the opportunity to make an immediate impact on those in need, consider a donation to one of the following worthy nonprofits. In the recent Edelman goodpurpose Study we discovered that more than one-third of Americans say that they would prefer to receive a donation to a good cause in their name over an item picked out specifically for them.  So start gifting for good! 

Heifer International

In rough, mountainous areas of Latin America, llamas are a blessing to families with limited pasture land because they can eat the scrub vegetation that other domesticated animals won’t eat. Llamas and their kin, the alpaca, provide Heifer families with invaluable sources of transportation, income and wool, which is prized for making blankets, ponchos, carpet and rope. By gifting a llama (or other livestock) through Heifer International, you can significantly improve the lives of a family or community in need. 


By gifting a bicycle through UNICEF, you will help health workers reach vulnerable children in remote communities around the world. Having access to a bicycle for a health worker or midwife can help significantly increase the health standards of children in remote villages and communities in developing countries.

International Justice Mission

This year millions of children, women and men are eagerly waiting and hoping for one gift: Freedom. Make this hope a reality and honor your loved ones by giving a Gift of Freedom — a priceless gift that brings rescue and renewed hope to victims of violent oppression. The gift provides the fees required to take one case against a violent perpetrator to trial.

Carol Cone is the Managing Director of Edelman Brand & Corporate Citizenship.  She works with brands, companies and nonprofit organizations to create programs that connect their business purpose to their higher social purpose.  Follow Carol and the goodpurpose team on Twitter at @goodpurpose.

Check out some other great green gifts over on Care2′s Healthy & Green channel. 

Photo credit: Plates with Purpose
By Carol Cone, Edelman


LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.3 years ago

I am not sure any of my friends need any of these.

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jose B.
Jose B3 years ago

Thanks for the informative article.

iii q.
g d c4 years ago

good list.

Sue M.
Sue Matheson5 years ago

thank you!

Dave C.
David C5 years ago

a donation in someone's name to any charity is another way especially for the 'someone who doesn't really need anything' like many of the people I know. of course in this year of economic struggles, gift cards for supermarkets, time together, and necessities might also count ?!

Colin Hope
Colin Hope5 years ago


Kath R.
Kath P6 years ago

KIVA is another way to give a gift which keeps on giving. It makes you feel good and allows you to follow the progress of the loan...not much to possibly loose and a ton of Joy To The World if it clicks.