Before you close the books on 2014, there is still time to make a big difference in the lives of other people. Supporting an organization that gives people in need a chance to earn a living for themselves and their families is a great way to make your dollars matter, so I put together some favorites.
Plus, for many of the organizations featured here, you can purchase something wonderful for yourself or friends and family as a way to support others. Of course the purchase of goods won’t be tax-deductible, like an outright donation. But we love any way that helps ensure great organizations like these will keep on keeping on.
I hope you’ll keep them in mind for maybe one last purchase in 2014–or perhaps a new favorite to consider supporting in 2015.
ArtLifting is a new-to-me organization with an awesome mission: giving homeless, disabled, and other disadvantaged people a way to express themselves and make a living through their art that is then sold. (Artist Ed Johnson shown at top.) And while art is often used in therapy to help people express themselves, ArtLifting actually creates an online marketplace of it, with almost all of the proceeds going directly back to the artist.
ArtLifting is slowly expanding from its Boston roots to other cities, like San Francisco this past October. Their eclectic group of artists have created abstracts, black-and-whites, photography, landscapes and more as both original artworks and print–even iPhone cases–in a variety of sizes. This is a fun site to visit when you are trying to decide what to do with that one blank wall in your house or office, especially when you click on the artist’s profile and learn more about the person you are directly supporting with your purchase.
My own favorite new accessory is the roomy, stylish and gorgeous fashionABLE Mamuye Tote which also happens to be one of our picks for the Coolest Jewelry and Accessories for 2014. Along with the stunning scarves we have featured several times on Cool Mom Picks, it’s clear why we have supported fashionABLE for their style. But it’s their mission that really makes an impact on us– to teach a marketable trade that provides a living wage, education, and medical care to women–often mothers–who are looking for a new path in life besides commercial sex work.
Our editor Liz had the pleasure of visiting FashionABLE in Ethiopia herself two years ago, and we can see why she’s become such an advocate for them. (As have we all!) Their products make a wonderful gift or a treat for yourself, made extra sweet in knowing where they came from and how they helped change a life for the better.
Related: Stylish gifts that give back
Just read our post about To The Market | Survivor Made Goods and you’ll know why we were hard-pressed to call their many beautiful items “charity gifts.” Like so many of the items mentioned here, their website is not about outright charity but about giving trafficking survivors around the world a renewed purpose and chance to change their lives for the better through meaningful work. Whether you have a specific cause you care deeply about, from abuse or orphanhood to AIDS/HIV, or just wish you could feel better about the products you bring home, To The Market has a stunning array of handicrafts such as jewelry, handbags, and home furnishings.
While a student at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Veronika Scott had an idea to create a warm, waterproof, and durable coat that could be easily turned into a sleeping bag to help shelter the huge homeless population in her city of Detroit. It was a brilliant creation, but it wasn’t until she was challenged to go even further to help the homeless that this became an even more amazing company: She hired mainly homeless, single mothers to create the coats, giving them a way to learn a skill and earn a living as a way to provide a better future for themselves and their children.
Now known as The Empowerment Plan, Veronika’s company has made thousands of coats for homeless individuals all around the country, as well as helping their employees find safe housing for their families. And while their coats are not for purchase, your donation of $100 will insure that one of their coats makes it to a needy person who will be a little warmer this cold winter.
This year, we discovered Mitscoots Socks and their buy one/donate one business plan which gives away a pair of their cool-looking US-made socks for every one purchased. But, they go even one step beyond, by working with placement agencies and shelters in the Austin area to pay a fair wage in return for help packaging and shipping their many sock orders. That means that, in buying a pair of socks, I’m not only giving a pair of warm, comfy, and very stylish socks to someone else too, but I’m also helping to employ the person who will package up my order. Pretty cool work for a pair of socks.
And don’t be surprised if you catch our own editors and staff sporting quite a few of their designs in the new year.
Please check out the many other wonderful charitable organizations you can consider for your year-end (or year-round) charitable donations in our archives. Thanks for having big hearts, mamas!