By The Washington Post
Savvy shoppers love the acronym BOGO, because it means "buy one, get one" free. But BOGO also spells stretching your buying power when it stands for "buy one, give one." So, you might want to consider holiday (or any occasion) gifts that give to others.
You've probably heard of shoe retailer Toms. Since 2006, for every pair of shoes the company sells, it gives a new pair to a child in need. This one-for-one model inspired other businesses to do the same. Some donate products, others a significant portion, if not all, of their sales to nonprofits and those in need.
In researching this story, I put out a call for examples, and I was overwhelmed by retailers large and small promising to give back in some fashion with every purchase. But ensuring that a perfect gift for your BFF truly keeps on giving long after it has been unwrapped may take cutting through the marketing hype and reading the fine print.
For advice, I turned to Kevin Scally, chief relationship officer for Charity Navigator, which independently evaluates and rates 160,000 nonprofits. "People want to do good when buying a product, so they naturally gravitate to companies promising to do so. The task for the consumer is understanding how much of the purchase goes to the cause," he says.
When a company says it donates one for one, the answer is clear. When it says "a percentage of profits," "a portion of proceeds" or "a percentage of sales," it's murkier. For example: Company A says 10 percent of sales are donated. That means for every $100 in sales, it donates $10. Company B says 10 percent of profits/proceeds are donated. That means for every $100 in sales, the company subtracts expenses, then donates 10 percent of whatever is left.
Bottom line: Look for transparency. Scally says good questions to consider are: Where is the money or product going? At a glance, is it clear whom a business is supporting? Is there a charity named, or does it say "to help a cause"? Is there information on the seller's website that articulates and validates its claims? Although you may not be able to vet small businesses, you can use Charity Navigator to quickly check out many nonprofits to see if they use their money efficiently and effectively.
Once you're satisfied with the answers, you can start shopping. Here are gifts that give, no matter the season or reason. This is in no way a complete list; I'm digging out of 300-plus suggestions, and there are many more out there.
That said, I did find some great gifts that give back. Those brands that don't use the one-for-one model pass along a significant chunk of change, enough that I would feel confident buying from them. If nothing else, I hope you'll find inspiration to check out similar "giving" retailers in your community.
Super-comfy socks make the perfect stocking stuffer. Bombas is at the forefront of the one-for-one movement. For every item purchased - the company added T-shirts to its line in 2019 - Bombas gives a specially designed item (reinforced seams, antimicrobial treatments to reduce bacteria and darker colors to minimize visible wear) to those at risk. More than 40 million socks and T-shirts have been donated.
This may be the year your loved ones truly appreciate being gifted luxurious soap, shampoo or hand lotion. For every Soapbox product you purchase, the company donates a bar of soap to someone in need through food pantries, clinics and homeless shelters. By the end of 2020, Soapbox will have donated some 20 million bars to needy communities.
Sackcloth & Ashes blankets ($69 to $129), each a near work of art, are woven from 100 percent recycled materials and an eco-friendly wool blend. Through the campaign Blanket the United States, for every blanket sold, the company donates a blanket to a homeless shelter in the buyer's ZIP code. The company's goal is to donate 1 million blankets by 2024.
BlueCut's limited edition Planting Change apron ($75 for an adult size, $48 in kid sizes) features California-based artist Alexandra Bowman's illustration of people growing and harvesting crops to sustain themselves and the community. Each apron purchased provides at least five Line aprons to Black-owned restaurants. Since October, nearly 500 aprons have been donated.
Pottery painting kits.
Creative children may be a bit more appreciative knowing that receiving a pottery painting kit (figurines, paint, brushes and sealer, $32 and up) means other kids can be artistic, too. Pottery Awesomeness's A Kit for You = A Kit for Two donates a kit of art therapy supplies to hospitalized kids. Donations go to Children's National Hospital in D.C., with plans to expand nationally.
Warby Parker's one-for-one program is widely known, though there have been changes since the pandemic. A newer brand, Bold Dots, which launched earlier this year, sells contemporary, unisex eyewear ($135 and up). For every pair sold, the brand donates a pair of eyewear and funds for an eye exam to a person in rural India. In less than nine months, the company has donated more than 600 frames, optical lenses and eye exams. Founder Akshar Patel hopes to increase the donation to two for one in 2021.
Yoobi offers colorful (and glittery) school and office supplies, including pencil cases that double as makeup pouches and an eye-shaped wire board. For each item bought - either online or at stores such as Target or Kohl's - Yoobi donates a school supply to students in need nationwide; more than 74.4 million school supplies have been donated since 2014.
For every item sold by Madi Apparel, it donates a new pair of underwear to women in need. Why underwear? It tops the list of urgent needs for nearly every domestic violence and homeless shelter, yet these organizations rarely receive new underwear; most donations are of used clothes. More than 6,500 pairs of underwear have been given across different countries.
Totes and bags.
Celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Nick Jonas, Martha Stewart and Pierce Brosnan have supported Feed, best known for its canvas, cotton and burlap bags. Founded by Lauren Bush Lauren, Feed helps provide school meals - more than 100 million and counting - around the world through each purchase. Products are labeled to represent the number of meals given. For example, the Feed 10 Bag ($28) provides 10 meals to children in need. Feed has also added home goods to its collection.
The water-resistant Adventurist Classic backpack ($65) is a great gift for students and hikers alike. For every backpack sold, Adventurist Backpack Co. provides 25 meals to families in need across the country. It partners with Feeding America and has donated more than 150,000 meals.
Whether you buy a pack of these bread-shaped greeting cards or attach one to a gift, Food for Thoughts donates the cash equivalent of one peanut butter and jelly sandwich to hunger-fighting organizations. Bricks-and-mortar retailers can designate a local food pantry to be the recipient. Check out the Celebrating You line ($3.25) with its uplifting messages.
Online-only retailer Shady Rays provides 10 meals to fight hunger for every pair of sunglasses sold. More than 10 million meals have been donated through Feeding America, and as its sales have expanded worldwide, Shady Rays is partnering with the Global FoodBanking Network to provide the same per-order donations to fight hunger internationally.
Two visually impaired brothers donate 100 percent of profits ($750,000 so far) from their clothing line, Two Blind Brothers, to fund research to find a cure for retinal eye disease. You can buy ultrasoft hoodies, polos and T-shirts online, but customers can also "shop blind" and buy mystery boxes. The company handpicks the collections. You pick the price point and receive a package with something it promises you'll love or you can return it, no questions asked. Boxes are changed out every two to three weeks.
Jasco may be best known for selling home security and lighting products. But its collectible night lights ($6.99 and up) for children's rooms are a big hit - come on, everyone needs the Mandalorian and the Child keeping watch. Regardless of what product you purchase, 50 percent of the net profit goes to a nonprofit cause (food, water, shelter or disaster relief) of your choice, designated at checkout through the Give Your Way program.
National park-themed goods.
When you buy a Tour the Parks enamelware dish set ($80), a Parks Project gift box ($60) or any of the other apparel and home items from Parks Project, money goes toward a conservation program to help protect our national parks. (The product description tells you which program.) Parks Project keeps a ticker on its website's homepage to show how much has been donated - more than $1.1 million to date.
Daily specializes in consumer advocacy and travel strategies. Find her at dailywriter.net.