Gift Guide: 10 Gifts That Give Back

This month's Guest Editor, Rita Mehta of The American Edit, has compiled a selection of stunning presents for the special women and kids in your life. Each one serves to support meaningful societal change through job creation, monetary donation and more.
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Image Credit: Block Shop

Image Credit: Block Shop

Okay, we know you're thinking: thanks for sharing those rules for low-stress gifting, but it's easier said than done to find the presents that are just right – and more meaningful than trivial. If you still have no idea what to get for your sister, mom, best friend, or other special women in your life, you're not alone.

When we don't have an exact idea of what a recipient might want, we like to give something that is more than a material good – something that is ethically and responsibly made, thus doing good for the maker and the world. If the purchase also gives back to a cause that the giftee values, that adds bonus points and positive karma, feeling like an all-around win-win-win. 

We've rounded up some great gifts that give back. Besides checking out some of our favorite product options below, be sure to dig around on the different sites, as there are many more possibilities where these came from. To get even more creative and generous, you might even match the price of your present with a donation to a charity in the recipient's name. 

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To Buy: Skinny Railroad Spike Bullet Cuff by Giles & Brother for Liberty United ($95); made in New York

Liberty United is combatting America's gun violence epidemic by taking illegal guns off the street (provided by police) and transforming them into stunning, high-end jewelry. Plus, 20-25% of the profit from each sale is donated to programs that protect at-risk children from gun violence, and every customer can even choose the specific local community to support (with options including Philadelphia, New Orleans and more). 

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To Buy: Tegu Blocks, 24-Piece Set ($65); made in Honduras

Tegu is based just outside of the capital city of Honduras, where meaningful jobs and long-term career growth opportunities are particularly needed. Local Honduran cooperatives provide responsibly harvested wood from individually selected trees for the company's magnetic wooden blocks, which are handmade in sweet, nostalgic shapes and colors to encourage kids to brainstorm and build. Every purchase allows shoppers to direct a portion of proceeds to reforestation or children's education.

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To Buy: Textiles Scarf by Block Shop ($120); made in LA and India

Block Shop makes its heirloom textiles by hand in small batches in Bagru, India, using traditional Indian techniques that date back several centuries. Every year, the company invests 5% of its profits to a different social mission – so far, it has launched mobile medical clinics to provide 250 primary care check-ups and 68 pairs of glasses for those with impaired vision, and it has installed 18 water filters and tanks in co-op members' homes to eradicate waterborne illness. Next up is an initiative dedicated to women's health.  

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To Buy: Clare V. x Every Mother Counts Flat Clutch ($260); made in LA

Every Mother Counts backs maternal health programs around the globe through fundraising and education, fighting for safe pregnancy and childbirth for mothers near and far. Handbag designer Clare V. has partnered with the nonprofit on a special collection, with a portion of net proceeds going towards the organization's impactful work. 

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To Buy: Dumye Dolls ($168); made in the UAE

These adorable dolls come in chic outfits with options to personalize skin tone, eye and hair color, and even hair style. With every unique purchase, Dumye gives a doll to an orphaned or vulnerable child who might have lost his or her parents to war, disease or other global tragedy. The company also offers a hands-on art workshop for the at-risk kids, where they are allowed to reflect, process their experiences and exercise creative control. One more special touch: every doll includes a "Purpose Pocket" holding a blank bit of cloth, which gifters or recipients can inscribe with affirmations or wise words to encourage little ones to do good in the world, too.  

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To Buy: Coffee Pour Over Set by Jane & William Home ($120); made in New York

Nonprofit Kiva engages monetary contributors as lenders to people in poverty, so the beneficiaries can start businesses, attend school or otherwise gain access to increased opportunities for survival and success. New ceramics brand Jane & William Home has partnered with the organization to put 100% of its profits towards micro-loans for small businesses around the world, empowering other makers to make (and make change). 

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To Buy: "The Daily" Tote by Feed Projects ($75); made in audited factories all over the world

FEED uses environmentally friendly (and ideally organic) fabrics to produce its bags and other fashion items in fair-labor factories, providing sustainable jobs in Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti and more. When the items are sold, the company contributes meals to the underserved countries where they were made. A purchase of a simple canvas bag like this one provides 50 school meals for children across continents.

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To Buy: Blueberry Earrings by GAIA for Women ($125); made in Texas

GAIA employs female refugees in Dallas, Texas to create vibrant accessories by hand with vintage and sustainable materials. You can get to know the employees and their inspiring stories in their bio's on GAIA's site – the company offers all of them a living wage and job development to foster their financial independence. Even the name GAIA means "Goddess of the Earth," intended to honor women everywhere. 

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To Buy: Uzma Recycled Cotton Journal by Paisley & Sparrow ($11)

Paisley & Sparrow's online marketplace includes a curated selection of products created in partnership with social justice organizations and nonprofits around the world, whether combatting sex trafficking or offering medical care for those with HIV. Customers can shop with specific causes in mind, or simply choose one of the elegant gift items with the knowledge that it's tied to a meaningful purpose. 

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To Buy: Transit Issue Key Chain by Apolis ($28)

Apolis coined the phrase "Advocacy Through Industry" to describe its business model, which aims to provide international access to a united global marketplace – this way, those in developing countries have increased opportunities to thrive. The Certified B Corporation pairs business and social change as collaborative entities, positioning its customers as "benefactors" who intentionally empower marginalized communities with their purchases. The apparel and accessories are co-designed with artisans around the world and ethically made in limited runs.

p.s. For more ways to give back, look no further: these 20 organizations need your support.