Shopping for a cause this holiday season

From Green Right Now Reports

The holidays bring many motivations to buy, buy, buy. But beyond the sale prices and must-have items is something greater for consumers to consider, says Saint Joseph's University sociologist Keith Brown, Ph.D.

"Many consumers sincerely want to make a difference in the world through shopping," he says. "Consumers like to give gifts that have a story about where the product came from, who made it and how the producer benefitted by selling the object."

Conversely, Brown says that the recipients often feel good, too. "It's a double gift."

Brown points to a number of motivators for consumers who look for pink ribbon or earth-friendly products, but also notes that keeping up appearances can play a role.

"Maybe most importantly, consumers want to be viewed as socially conscious. Objects that clearly signify that a person has donated to charity help mark the consumer as altruistic."

So, this season, with America in recession, how big of a role will altruism play in holiday shopping?

"The current recession coincided with an ‘ethical turn' in the markets," Brown explains. "More and more products are being sold that donate a portion of their proceeds to a charitable or ethical cause."

And an increasing number of consumers from all socio-economic segments are looking to pay it forward, Brown says, but especially those who have been only minimally impacted by the recession. “They're looking for ‘Made in America,' ‘Fair Trade,' or ‘Eco-friendly.' They want to add a socially responsible dimension to their gift-giving."

Here are a few organizations where your gifts can make a huge impact:

  • Plan International — A global organization that helps millions of children and families in 50 developing countries around the world.
  • UNICEF — Inspired Gifts is an innovative program that gives you the opportunity to purchase actual life-saving items that will be shipped directly from both the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen and one of UNICEF’s many suppliers to one of over 150 countries where UNICEF serves.
  • International Rescue Committee — Gift sales support programs, projects and tools that aid refugees around the world.
  • Operation Smile — An international children’s medical charity that heals children’s smiles, forever changing their lives.
  • World Wildlife Fund — Works to protect and restore species and their habitats, strengthen local communities’ ability to conserve the natural resources they depend upon and transform markets and policies to reduce the impact of the production and consumption of commodities.

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