50 Ways to Give Back

Presumably we’re all in agreement that being a good person is a #lifegoal. Happily, making good on that ideal doesn’t have to take a ton of time or money. So go on—make the world a better place. It’s easier than you think. 

Soapbox

Soapbox

Photo courtesy of Soapbox

Photo courtesy of Soapbox

The simple act of getting cleaned up can change a person’s outlook for the better. Soapbox believes soap = hope. 

Paraben-free formulas and elegant packaging make Soapbox’s products so luxe and lovely, and all purchases result in donated bar soaps in the U.S. and abroad. Over 3 million lives have been impacted already. soapboxsoaps.com, from $5

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Carpool

This lifesaving group got its start with a moving violation in 1997. Texas A&M student Jeff Schiefelbein was cited for DWI and mandated to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving panel, where a mom whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver spoke. Inspired to help in some way, he created CARPOOL, a student-run safe-ride program that has since given over 278,000 rides to anyone in his college town. Subsequently, inspired students on other campuses have created similar programs to offer no-questions-asked, no-judgment rides. Check it out on Facebook.

Twice As Warm

Twice as Warm

Photo courtesy of Twice as Warm

Photo courtesy of Twice as Warm

When you stock up on winter hats, gloves or scarves from Twice As Warm, they’ll donate one of theirs to families in need. twiceaswarm.com, from $28

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

You gotta buy groceries no matter what, right? Keep in mind:

ShopRite’s Partners in Caring program has donated more than $48 million to food banks, community soup kitchens and other orgs. Search store shelves for Partners in Caring tags to support the cause. 

Target donates millions of pounds of food each year to families in need through a long-standing partnership with Feeding America.

Whole Foods Market created the Whole Kids Foundation to promote wellness initiatives, such as funding school gardens, that get kids psyched about fruits and veggies. 

Trader Joe’s gives 100% of products not cleared for sale but safe for consumption to local charities. Each store has a designated donation coordinator tasked with making this happen. 

Businesses for the Better

Are you familiar with the global network 1% for the Planet? The group’s mission is to take responsibility for the earth by connecting businesses with vetted nonprofit partners to create an easy channel for donating 1% of their annual revenue to a charity of their choice. With 1,500 business members, there are plenty of opportunities for consumers to help pay it forward. So far, more than $175 million has been given back to help the environment. To learn more, go to onepercentfortheplanet.org. Participating companies include:

King Arthur Flour
Selling flour since 1790, they’ve expanded to ingredients like yeast and high-quality baking mixes. kingarthurflour.com, from $5

Grounds for Change
Combining a caffeine fix with saving the planet? Sounds like a win-win. groundsforchange.com, from $8

LUMIONskin
Its serum mimics a chemical naturally found in our bodies that can help reverse signs of aging and lessen redness. lumionlife.com, $42

Gold Paw Series
Smart, stylish (and  made in the USA) dogwear for all occasions. goldpawseries.com, from $22

Warby Parker

Warby Parker

Photo courtesy of Warby Parker

Photo courtesy of Warby Parker

Some 2.5 billion people around the globe lack access to needed corrective glasses, compromising their ability to learn or work comfortably and effectively.

Warby Parker brings the impact of corporate giving into focus when someone in the developing world can see clearly after receiving glasses, thanks to its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. warbyparker.com, from $95

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Bombas

Bombas

Photo courtesy of Bombas

Photo courtesy of Bombas

Socks are one of the most requested items in homeless shelters. Buying a pair of comfy Bombas nets a pair with an antimicrobial treatment and reinforced seams for the homeless. bombas.com, from $10.50

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Dollars Spent: Zero, Payoff: Priceless

Yes, you can help your fellow man without ever opening your wallet.

• Give blood.
• Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food pantry.
• Visit nursing home residents.
• Help at an event at your kid’s high school.
• Volunteer with Meals on Wheels to deliver turkey meals to those in need this Thanksgiving.
• Play with pets in an animal shelter.
• Foster a dog or cat.
• Join a mentoring organization to help guide kids in your community.
• Use mealtrain.com to organize meal delivery for a family going through a hard time.
• Offer to drive your teen’s teammates to sports games or practices.
• Clean up obvious litter on your next walk.
• Make a dish for your church’s potluck.
• Help your kid’s school start a garden.
• Read to people with low or no vision. (Get started through lighthouseguild.org.)
• Gather a few friends and help clean up a local park.
• Sign the back of your driver’s license to be an organ donor.
• On your birthday, ask your Facebook friends to donate to a charity that’s important to you.
• Sweep or shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk or driveway when you do your own.
• Donate things that you no longer use or need—clothing, household goods, toys, books.
• Got old eyeglasses? Stick them in a box or padded envelope and mail to New Eyes for the Needy. (For the address, go to www.new-eyes.org.)
• Send still-in-good-condition, no-longer-wanted clothes to ThredUp to donate to charity (thredup.com/cleanout/donate-clothes).
• Hold the door for someone.
• Ask a person who looks lost if they need help.
• Offer to hold a baby when a mom is trying to fold the stroller.
• Walk a sick friend’s dog.
• Hand out water to runners during a race.
• Tell an elderly person you’d love to listen to stories about the good old days.

Roma Boots

Roma Boots

Photo courtesy of Roma Boots

Photo courtesy of Roma Boots

Company founder Samuel Bistrian, pictured above, dreamed of merging his love of fashion with philanthropy—and he did it. 

Wet, unprotected feet = unsafe, unhappy kids. Through its Dallas-based foundation, Roma Boots supplies
durable, colorful rain boots to needy children to make good on a vow to “give poverty the boot.” Kids in 26 countries, including the U.S., Romania, Guatemala and the Philippines, have benefited. romaboots.com, from $49

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Saving Pan

Fourteen high school girls are out to change the world one recipe at a time with Saving Pan, a cookbook they curated to help raise money for orphaned chimpanzees. Working together for three years, the girls collected over 50 vegetarian recipes from notable chefs and activists from around the world (including Michelle Obama!) and spent happy Friday nights testing them. Released last year, the first print run of the books sold out in less than a week, and 100% of its $25 price goes toward the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Centre. savingpan.com 

Tater Tats

Tater Tats

Photo courtesy of Tater Tats

Photo courtesy of Tater Tats

Who better than a dedicated crew of West Michigan farmhands to dream up Tater Tats—artfully elegant temporary tattoos in a wide variety of produce-inspired designs, including kale, garlic, avocado and even a pumpkin. It all started with a kick-ass Kickstarter campaign, and now Tater Tats donates 10% of its total sales to support sustainable small-scale farming. tatertats.com, $5 for a 4-pack

Project 7

Can gum, chewy candies and gummies change the world? Project 7—a brand named after seven areas of need around the globe—says yes. Different products go toward seven different causes, such as healing the sick and saving the planet, with quirky flavors ranging from Wedding Cake to Front Porch Lemonade. project7.com, from $5.50

State

State Bags

Photo courtesy of State Bags

Photo courtesy of State Bags

With every purchase of a State bag, the company will hand deliver a backpack filled with school supplies, socks and snacks to a local kid in need through “bag drops”—motivational school rallies to help kids believe in themselves. statebags.com, backpacks from $55

Synced Smiles

“There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them own cellphones, but only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.” This stat inspired a San Francisco tech guru to take action. For every toothbrush bought from Synced Smiles, the company donates 10 to people in places like the Philippines, Uganda and Malawi. Styles range from standard to electric to natural. syncedsmiles.com, from $15

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Better World Books

Better World Books

Photo courtesy of Better World Books

Photo courtesy of Better World Books

After they graduated from Notre Dame, three college buddies hit on a business idea that would make a difference. 

To get books into the hands of people who lack them, Better World Books donates one for every book sold at betterworldbooks.com. In the process they’ve saved millions of books from landfills.

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

4 Ways to Give Retail Therapy Higher Purpose

AmazonSmile
When you access the bazillion products on Amazon through smile.amazon.com, 0.5% of the purchase price of items marked as eligible will be donated to a charity you designate.

Mastercard
The company’s Charity Charge (charitycharge.com) offers the same user experience as a regular credit card, but with this added bonus: unlimited 1% cash back to a charity you choose. Rewards never expire, there’s no processing fee and all donations are tax-deductible. 

American Express
Through their Members Give program, you can redeem 1,000 Membership Rewards points for a $10 donation to your selected nonprofit organization.

Goodshop
Choose a cause with Goodshop; it’ll send you coupons from top retailers like Macy’s and Target. When you redeem them through Goodshop, a percentage of your purchases gets donated.

BOBS from Skechers

BOBs from Skechers

Photo courtesy of BOBs from Skechers

Photo courtesy of BOBs from Skechers

Buying from the BOBS from Skechers collection of shoes helps save the lives of shelter dogs and cats in the U.S. through an ongoing partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill organization. skechers.com, from $34

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Viva Glam

Viva Glam

Photo courtesy of Mac Cosmetics

Photo courtesy of Mac Cosmetics

When you buy any product in MAC’s Viva Glam line, 100% of the purchase price goes toward the MAC AIDS Fund. maccosmetics.com, $18.50

Kids That Do Good

Teenagers can definitely be just as giving as adults, according to the 16-year-old twin founders of Kids That Do Good, Jake and Max Klein. The nonprofit organization’s easy-to-navigate website facilitates connections between want-to-do-gooders and established charities, as well as allowing them to create their own campaigns and initiatives, such as clothing drives and check-ins on the elderly. kidsthatdogood.com

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Two parents looking to jump-start pediatric cancer research with an influx of funding started Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. The nonprofit grants 100% of profits from cookie sales and grassroots events to leading childhood cancer centers in the U.S. The cookies are large and, frankly, irresistible. (Plus, your purchase is tax-deductible. Sweet!) cookiesforkidscancer.org, $30 per dozen

Yoobi

Yoobi

Photo courtesy of Yoobi

Photo courtesy of Yoobi

Yoobi wants to be on the write side of history, so every cute school essential sold yields an item donated to a Classroom Pack for gifting to an elementary school class in need in the U.S. yoobi.com, from $1

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Cuddle+Kind

These natural cotton dolls are handmade by artisans in Peru who are paid a sustainable fair-trade income.

Every purchase of an insanely soft and eminently huggable Cuddle+Kind hand-knit and embroidered doll triggers a donation of 10 meals to hungry kids around the world. cuddleandkind.com, from $50

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

You’re on your phone all the time anyway. Might as well download apps to do some good! 

Beam 
With Beam, you can help a cause simply by grabbing a bite at some of your favorite eateries. Link your credit card to the app and when you buy, it will automatically prompt you to choose where money from your purchase should be donated. Android and iOS, free

Charity Miles
The concept behind Charity Miles is simple—just download, choose a charity and get moving. The app lets you log every mile you walk, jog or dance, and corporate sponsors will donate money to a
cause you care about. Android and iOS, free

Donate A Photo
Can a picture be worth $1,000? Johnson & Johnson definitely thinks they’re worth something, pledging to give $1 to a nonprofit of your choice for every photo shared using its Donate a Photo app. You can post one photo a day and then share your pics on social media to get friends in on the action. Android and iOS, free

TOMS

Toms

Photo courtesy of Toms

Photo courtesy of Toms

Founder Blake Mycoskie is credited with pioneering the One for One business model. 

After visiting Argentina, where he saw kids growing up without shoes, Mycoskie envisioned a philanthropic company built around donating shoes, then glasses and more. toms.com, from $40

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

DoSomething.org

dosomething.org

Photo courtesy of dosomething.org

Photo courtesy of dosomething.org

Mobilizing young people in every U.S. area code and in 131 countries. 

Through the boundless power of the internet, teens are promoting more change in their communities than ever, and DoSomething.org is part of it. A self-described “digital platform powering offline action,” the organization has inspired over 6 million young people across the world to participate in social change campaigns like clothing the homeless and cleaning up millions of cigarette butts. 

FIGS

Health is wealth: For every pair of scrubs that’s purchased through its Threads for Threads program, FIGS gifts antimicrobial scrubs to health care providers in need internationally. wearfigs.comfrom $38

For every item bought, one (or more) is donated.

Enchanted Makeovers

Michigan mom of four Terry Grahl is on a mission to empower women and children living in shelters through upgraded interior design. Her national nonprofit, Enchanted Makeovers, works to turn shelters into beautiful and nurturing environments through quilts, murals, hand-painted furniture and other comforting touches. Besides enhancing physical spaces, the organization tries to transform attitudes with supportive skill-building programs designed to boost confidence in the residents. enchantedmakeovers.org

Charity Checkups Made Easy

Before you donate any hard-earned money to a cause, first do some research online. It’s easy to do real-time background checks on nonprofits. Start with these websites: charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org and guidestar.org.

GOBBLE GOBBLE…well, actually…

Farm Sanctuary’s annual Adopt a Turkey Project encourages you to sponsor a rescued bird at the organization’s upstate New York or Los Angeles shelter. As a compassionate benefactor, you’ll receive a certificate, color photo and fun details about your feathered friend. farmsanctuary.org, $35