I am growing weary of shopping incentives and the push for gift-giving inspired consumerism. First there was pre-Black Friday sales, then Black Friday (which actually started on Thursday evening after the Thanksgiving day meal). Cyber Monday came next, for that extra bit of on-line shopping motivation.
Then someone came up with #Giving Tuesday, a social media movement to encourage retailers to host donation drives in stores on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Participants with an online presence were also encouraged to solicit charitable contributions from their social media followers. I’m not sure how much was raised for charity via this new effort, but it sounded good.
A new twist on profit sharing
Recently, I attended a Shop for A Cause evening at A Cool Chick Place, a boutique featuring local artisans, jewelry, gifts and vintage clothing, located in Avon, Connecticut. Proprietress Michele Marquis made a commitment to donate 10% of all sales for one week to YWCA Hartford Region. In addition, she hosted two special evenings of open house with food and beverages and special jewelry made by the young women of YWCA.
- Join me on Thursday December 6th from 5pm-8pm to Shop for a Cause at A Cool Chick Place in Avon CT. Download this FLYER_shop for a cause_A Cool Chick Place and YWCA
I was inspired to think differently about holiday gift-giving this year by my friend and fellow YWCA board member, Andrea Hawkins. Check out what she had to say to me when I ran into her at the event:
“People already have too much stuff. This holiday, I intend to give more meaningful gifts – like networking books that will help my friends who are in job search; YWCA memberships to engage women in a powerful community; and locally-made jewelry purchased at a boutique that donates part of its sales to charity. That feels more like the true spirit of giving.“ – Andrea Hawkins, Vice President, Prudential, Retirement Services
Re-think your gift-giving strategies this holiday season
This year, I am going to take a different approach to holiday gift-giving. I’m going to try my best to give gifts that make a bigger difference in the world. I’m going to spend my money on things that have positive multiplier effects. I encourage you to join me in this effort.
Here are some ideas as to how you can spend some of your holiday budget to give more thought-provoking and lasting gifts to clients, friends and family:
- Order a KIVA Card in increments of $25. Your recipient will become a micro-lender and can choose which project they want to invest in from hundreds listed on the KIVA web site. These investments get repaid and can be re-invested. More and more people around the world can become self-sufficient with entrepreneurial ventures using your meager, but meaningful capital investment. NOTE: you can elect to have KIVA mail the card to your gift recipient, or you can have it emailed or print it out and hand-deliver it. All packaged up!
- Heifer International. You can purchase a flock of chicks($20) or a gaggle of geese ($20) , a share of a sheep ($10) or a share of a pig ($10) or if you can afford it, an entire heifer ($500) is available to gift. This livestock is donated to needy families around the world to help them create a sustainable lifestyle for their families and villages. Heifer International will send a personalized card announcing your creative and generous pledge to your gift recipient.
- Note: I accidentally just ordered two pigs, rather than two shares of a pig for my nephew. ($240 versus $24). I called the toll free number and got a real, live and helpful person who helped me cancel the order. They didn’t just take the pig and run. They refunded me my money. That’s good customer service- good integrity.
- Soroptimist International of the Americas is a nonprofit volunteers women’s services organization that funds service projects to help improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and around the world. You can elect that your gift go to Japan disaster recovery, economic empowerment, gender equality, ending violence, or in honor/memory of someone special in your life.
- Cystic Fibrosis Research Institute (CFRI) supports cystic fibrosis research, advocacy and education that brings hope to thousands of people living with CF. My older brother David (shown here as an adorable baby) lived with and died from CF at the age of 31. My personal goal is to see a cure for cystic fibrosis in my lifetime. This is a great organization that really needs your help and support to find the cure.
- YWCA Hartford Region or YWCA National gives women and girls a voice and a choice to live safe, equitable and fulfilling lives. The YWCA mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all (that includes the guys too!)
- National Public Radio (NPR). Who could live without a daily dose of this most excellent news reporting and commentary on the human existence? I am a huge fan of NPR and just made my annual pledge to this listener supported radio. To donate to your local NPR station, type in your local zip code and they’ll lead you through the rest of the process. Check out their cool NPR gift shop – how about that Car Talk coffee mug? Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers – what a hoot!
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Before you take that next trip to the mall or the e-mall, stop and think more creatively about the kinds of gifts and messages you want to send out in the world. Decline the trinkets and trash and select a gift with a positive multiplier effect. That is, a gift that does good for you, your recipient and others in this world.
Think about the positive brand halo that you will create when you give meaningful gifts of charity this holiday season. Nothing to wrap, nothing to return; only gifts that embody the true meaning of the holiday season.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to be vocal about your philanthropic giving. Letting others know of your charitable giving (via social media, for example) could help inspire people to follow your lead this holiday season and beyond. Don’t be anonymous in your giving. Be loud and proud!