Gifts Outside the Box - With Impact

Scrambling to find just the right gift for a loved one or client? With the holidays rapidly approaching, we'd like to challenge you to think outside the box this holiday season! Unless you absolutely know the gift you are buying is really needed or wanted by the recipient, our list of suggestions will add extra meaning and warm the heart. Although it may be true that it's the thought that counts, these gifts do more than that. Read on to find our list of impactful gifts that are environmentally friendly, socially friendly, or support a cause.

1. An Arts Experience.

This past year, I purchased season tickets for my Mom and I to attend a local theatre companies productions. Not only do we have fun going to each play, we get to spend quality time together that we found we never really made time for previously. You don't have to go big with season tickets - there are many options in every community. Ideas include concert tickets, an art gallery membership, or tickets to the ballet. Most local arts organizations are nonprofits that run on a shoestring and are doing what they do for the love of it. I've found that local talent is just as fantastic as an expensive out-of-town experience and much lighter on the pocket-book.

2. Fair Trade Consumables.

Coffee, chocolate, tea, nuts, oils - almost everyone will be thrilled to "use" this type of gift. We Charity just came out with a new line this year of Bean to Bar and Beyond with both chocolate and coffee. Divine Chocolate sources their chocolate from small farmers and produces high-quality treats. Endangered Species Chocolate is one of my top choices because, in addition to being fair trade, they donate 10% of their net profits to a favorite conservation organization of mine, Wildlife Conservation Network. Today you can find many of these products at large retailers or online. Whatever you choose, always look for the Certified Fair Trade Symbol to ensure that the product is authentic. Also note, that "Fair Trade" does not mean "Organic" although a product may be both.

3. Local or Global Fair Trade Artisans.

Like the consumables above, if something is from out of the country, look for a Certified Fair Trade symbol. There are specialty boutiques like our local Globally Fair that sources items both locally and globally. Me to We not only is fair trade, they donate 50% of net profits back to We Charity. Ten Thousand Villages also has beautiful gifts from around the world. You may also look for Arts and Crafters markets where you may meet the artist and pick a unique piece for your loved one. One caveat. If you're going big, be careful in the area of art, you need to really know the taste of your recipient! 

4. Buy used.

What, you say, that's tacky, isn't it? I don't recommend buying used just anywhere but there are some unique second-hand stores selling antiques, jewelry, or vintage clothing that is one-of-a-kind and beautiful. It's an environmentally friendly way to shop locally and reuses something that otherwise would have been discarded or left sitting to collect dust on a couch. A fun vintage clothing store where I live, Georgie Girl, has unbelievably unique clothes and accessories. 

5. Adopt a Family Locally.

Your local Food Bank or Boys and Girls Club will have opportunities for you to bring joy to a family struggling to make ends meet where you supply all that is needed for a festive holiday celebration. Adopting a local family is a great option to do with office co-workers, bringing everyone together making a difference. Most local organizations work together to vet the needs of families and will match you with the right opportunity to give back. 

6. Support a Childs Education or a Parents Livelihood.

Today, access to education is a challenge for so many children especially girls living in poverty. Her International is running a Brick By Brick campaign and We Charity has options for helping individual families or entire villages with education, food security, clean water, and livelihoods. 

7. Support an Endangered Animal or help Conservation Efforts.

You can "adopt" a whale with Ocean Wise, foster a baby elephant or rhino through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, help a variety of animals supporting conservationists doing their work for lions, elephants, penguins, snow leopards, and unique species like Andean Cats, Painted Dogs, Saiga Antelopes and more through Wildlife Conservation Network - an organization I've worked closely with for many years and seen their incredible work first-hand.

Finally, consider charities that you like to traditionally support as most nonprofits fundraise most of their revenues at the end of the year. Many organizations also have "gift" catalogs and campaigns that you can choose a gift from. Best of all, your gift to a charity can be a powerful gift to anyone on your list!


Are you a business, individual, or foundation that would like to be strategic about your giving, social responsibility, and impact? Or a charity that would like to innovate, scale and become fiscally sustainable? Not sure where to start or what to focus on? Contact Nicole and the VortoVia team for a consultation.