The holiday season is here at last! Whether you view shopping for presents as an excuse to let your purse strings go wild or as a test of your precious patience (like I do), we all want to make the experience gratifying… or at the very least, survive it. And for those of us for whom the word shopping conjures nightmares of getting mauled over the latest discounted gadget at the local mall, there’s always online shopping. Despite the present economic situation, holiday shoppers are expected to spend an estimated $54 billion online alone this holiday season; a large chunk of which – approximately $6.5 billion – will come from Latinos, according to Captura Group.
Beyond the shopping, though, for many of us the holidays present a yearly opportunity to give back. That may be even truer for Latinos. A 2012 Georgetown study called the Dynamics of Cause Engagement confirms what we’ve known our whole lives: Cause involvement is a deeply-embedded Latino cultural behavior – though traditionally, philanthropy has been focused on giving to the church, or supporting families within our own communities.
That now seems to be changing, though. With the proliferation of mobile apps and social shops online, philanthropic shopping is more popular than ever. The intersection of online and offline shopping, virtual goods and philanthropy, has made it ever-so-easy to put our spending power and good will behind stores and products that have a social conscience, to double up on the giving by combining it with our desire to play an active role on behalf of worthy causes.
A quick search for social good online stores and apps can help you find some good sites that help you do just that. Here are a few of my faves:
- Sevenly.org: For every purchase you make on their site, they give $7 to the week’s featured charity.
- GoodShop: Download coupons and shop online, and a portion of each purchase will go to a charity you designate.
- Jedidiah: The site makes clothing and shares its profits with good causes.
- Oxfam International Christmas Shop: Sells fair trade items, hand crafted gifts, and unique jewelry made by artisans worldwide.
- TOMS Shoes: For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need somewhere in the world.
- CauseWorld : This app allows you to donate money while you shop.
- Product (RED): All purchases trigger a donation towards the elimination of AIDS.
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Toys for Good: Your purchase money goes to help children suffering from cancer at St. Jude.
- The Good Card from Network for Good: A gift card that can be redeemed online to support a specific charity.
- DonorsChoose.org: The site matches donors with specific classrooms, kids, and teachers.
- iGive.com: Lets you shop more than 1,200 stores online and designate a portion of your purchase to your choice of 50,000 affiliated charities and schools.
- The Hunger Site store: Every purchase fights famine in the Horn of Africa and combat hunger in the U.S.
- ConsumerReports.org 3rd annual Naughty & Nice List: Not a shopping site, but it rates companies that are not socially responsible or have insidious practices.
- Charity Navigator: Before you donate, you may want to check the organization of your choice on this site. It evaluates charities and non-profits to help you distinguish between those that are trustworthy and those that aren’t.
The truth is, the world cannot change until our consumerist patterns also change. While that thought may give one the urge to forgo shopping altogether – and trust me, sometimes I do – who has the heart to explain that to a 6 year-old who has eagerly been waiting for her Christmas present? Alright, you may argue, so philanthropic shopping may be a way to try to ease one’s consumer guilt. But, if doing so helps one become a more conscientious consumer and contribute to make the world just a tiny bit better, you can count me in!
Elianne Ramos is Principal/CEO of Speak Hispanic Marketing and Vice-Chair, Marketing and PR for Latinos in Social Media (LATISM). Under LATISM, she is also Chief Editor of the LATISM blog, and hostess to weekly Twitter chats reaching over 18.8 million impressions. Follow her on Twitter @ergeekgoddess.