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Gifts that Give Back: 8 Organizations to Consider this Holiday

Searching for the perfect gift this holiday season? Visit these Websites to find a present with a social impact.
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PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics sells lipsticks, lip balms, nail polishes other products and distributes the profits to benefit women’s health and human rights causes.
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Could a sloth make a great holiday gift? Adopt one (from afar) through the World Wildlife Foundation. Photo by Michel Gunther / WWF
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Profits from Bobo's Coffee benefit Malayaka House, an orphanage in Entebbe, Uganda.

This time of year, you hear a lot about “the gift that keeps on giving.” The phrase is tied to a number of concepts—a phonograph, blood donations, and, most recently, it was used to sum up Toronto Mayor Tom Ford.

But to us, the phrase should apply to something larger than, say, an audio device or a drunken crack user. It should hint at a kind of self-perpetuating benevolence—say, a gift to a loved one that also happens to touch countless lives. We’ve rounded up a list of non-profits and businesses that do just that. You choose a gift, and the benefits of purchasing that gift benefit people, animals or communities in need.

Whether you’re looking to give shoes, sunglasses, coffee, cosmetics or, heck, a sloth this holiday season, let these sites serve as your gateway to the gift that keeps on giving.

Adopt-a-Sloth
If you’ve fallen in love with Animal Planet’s “Meet the Sloths,” like we have, then you’ll be happy to know that you can adopt a three-toed sloth through World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).  No, a sloth won’t come and live with you (which is probably a good thing, from what we understand). But if you spend $50 or more, you’ll get a so-ugly-it’s-adorable sloth plush and other items, perfect for sharing with the sloth (lover) in your life.

Bobo’s Coffee
Does your morning cup of coffee awaken you to a greater purpose? It does if it’s Bobo’s Coffee. This whole bean coffee comes from Uganda, and the proceeds go directly to Malayaka House, an orphanage in Entebbe, Uganda, to help cover costs of food, housing, education, vocational training, medical and dental care, salaries for staff and mosquito netting to cover the kids’ beds. Buy the coffee online, or you can find it in cafes around Vermont, where the US office is based.

Booze for a Cause
Holiday party season is solidly upon us. Many of us will be heavily investing in bottles of booze to hand out as hostess gifts (or to lubricate family gatherings). Why not choose a booze that gives back? When you buy a bottle of Belvedere Red Vodka, 50 percent of the profits from the special edition bottle are donated to The Global Fund, an organization that works to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Since 2011, proceeds from Belvedere Red have helped more than 8,300 HIV-positive women.

More of a wine drinker? Visit Benefit Wines to search for a charity that’s meaningful to you. The bottles come with a label that reflects that charity, which helps get the word out about it, and a portion of the wine’s price cost goes directly to the non-profit.  

Choose a Charity
If you want to take a pass on gifts this year and send money straight to charity, there are a number of new, tech savvy ways to do it. First, you can begin your own registry to raise charity donations with JustGive.org. Explain to your friends and family that you’d like to forgo receiving any holiday gifts this year, and that they can, if they choose, make a donation, instead, to your website, which routes the money you raise to a charity of your choice. You can also give donations for someone through JustGive. To do that, log onto the site and purchase a gift card. Enter the recipient’s email or mailing address and he or she will receive the card, along with instructions that guide them through the site, where there are 1.8 million charities as the donation’s recipient.

iGive.com
If you’re planning on doing some online shopping for the holidays, you might as well do it through iGive. The site, which includes more than 1,300 stores, is aligned with more than 50,000 charities. Shop online, as you normally would, and a portion of what you purchase is donated to the charity of your choosing. Participating stores include Petco, Orbitz, Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Amazon, Expedia and more. 

PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics
Cosmetics for a cause = Cause-Metics. Get it? It’s a great play on words and a great concept. PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics sells lipsticks, lip balms, nail polishes other products and distributes the profits to benefit women’s health and human rights causes. Even better? Peacekeeper Cause-Metics creates quality products with all natural ingredients, and focuses on issues of sustainability, such as fair trade, biodegradable packaging and more. The goal of the organization is to prove that raising awareness and helping others can, indeed, be a sustainable business practice.

Toms
Toms operates on a “One for One” philosophy: you buy a pair of shoes, Toms sends a pair of shoes to a child who needs them. You buy a pair of glasses, Toms sends a pair of glasses to a child who needs them. Since the company began in 2006, that simple principle has put shoes on the feet of 10 million children in 60 different countries. Since 2011, more than 150,000 children in 13 countries have experienced improved vision with a pair of Toms glasses. Not interested in shoes or sunglasses? Toms recently opened up its Marketplace, where social entrepreneurs can peddle their wares. Check out the jewelry, accessories, home goods and more, all seeking to make an impact.

World Bicycle Relief
In cities throughout Africa, a bicycle can mean the difference between going to school and not going to school. It can settle the score between going to work and not going to work. It can provide the quickest mode of transportation for health care workers to visit their patients. And you can help make that happen. World Bicycle Relief is a non-profit organization founded 2005 by F.K. Day and Leah Missbach Day to provide 24,000 bicycles to survivors of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. It’s since grown and now provides bicycles—and creates jobs—in 13 countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. By donating, participating in a ride or purchasing any of World Bicycle Relief’s apparel, you can make a difference. A donation of $134 pays for a bicycle.

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