By: Melanie Hamburger

shopping-give-backWhether you’re thinking ahead to Mother’s Day or graduation, or looking for that perfect gift for a friend, it’s easy to use your consumer dollars for social change.

Online Venders for Social Good

An easy way to give back is to shop for your favorite gifts on a website that gives back.

  • Books for good: Better World Books donates proceeds to increase literacy, while they divert books from landfills. With over eight million titles, there’s sure to be a great book for nearly everyone on your gift list. And if you’re looking ahead for some 2015 inspiration, check out Favorite Reads in Social Impact in Catalytic Women’s online bookstore.
  • Gifts that lift women out of poverty: Prosperity Candle offers gorgeous gifts that enable women from Haiti, Burma and Iraq to lift themselves out of poverty as candle making entrepreneurs. Global Goods Partners and Bead for Life offer jewelry, accessories, body products and gifts for the home, while supporting women artisans globally—many who live on less than $1 a day.
  • Nonprofit auctions: Bidding for Good offers “charitable commerce” gifts, ranging from electronics to travel to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, all benefitting nonprofit auctions.

Gift Cards that Teach Giving

Better yet, give a true gift of giving. Let others learn about philanthropy when they select and support organizations through giving gift cards offered by UniversalGivingNetwork for GoodJustGiveCharity ChoiceGlobal Giving and TisBest. This is an especially wonderful gift for children and young adults, to open their eyes to the needs of others.

Just about any nonprofit will allow you to make a gift in someone else’s name. Think about local organizations you support, or get inspiration from Heifer International (ending world hunger through sustainable agriculture), In Defense of Animals (sponsor an orphan chimpanzee) Seva (the gift of sight) or Charity Water (clean drinking water).

Give Back with Every Purchase

By registering your credit cards and grocery rewards cards with eScrip, every purchase at retailers and the market can benefit the nonprofit of your choice. Amazon Smile allows you to do the same thing for your purchases at

Many local businesses donate a portion of sales. Ask at your next checkout whether your favorite neighborhood store supports a local cause.

Women direct 85% of consumer purchases. Think of the collective impact we can make by shifting our purchases to social enterprises that create global change.

Melanie Hamburger

Melanie Hamburger founded Catalytic Women to change how billions of dollars of capital flow to social solutions. Engaging women’s wealth and financial confidence is the key to democratizing access to philanthropy and mainstreaming impact investing.

As the author of Making Micro Mighty: Impact Investing with $20-$5,000, Melanie enjoys speaking and blogging on the influential role that women now play as majority asset owners in the U.S. Her specific expertise is giving, impact investing and creating impact with a gender lens.

Her own children are a reminder of the legacy she wishes to create. Melanie holds a BA cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She and her family live in Mill Valley, California.

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