Where Your Money Can Find Meaning This Holiday Season
At this time of year, we all tend to spend a little bit more money. And most of this is well-intentioned--perhaps we are giving a gift to a loved one or co-worker, or we inspired by the season of giving to do something for someone in need. Our money has great power to do good if spent wisely. Whether you are buying a sweater or choosing a charity to support, there are lots of questions to ask about where to put your dollars. I thought I'd share some of my favorite websites and organizations that are incredibly compelling in the way that they ensure that your dollars spent have a lasting impact. These sites directly change the lives of individuals.
One of my absolute favorites that I often gift year round. Kiva is an organization that allows individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. So rather than giving a handout, you can help someone start a business and provide ongoing income for themselves and their community. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending. You can give a gift card, or browse loans that you yourself would like to finance. www.kiva.org. Other great options that work with microfinance are Grameen Foundation and Microplace.
Women For Women International
World of Good
World of Good by eBay is the world's first online marketplace to convene thousands of People Positive and Eco Positive sellers and products all in one place, empowering you to shop in ways that align with your personal values. Respected, independent organizations verify the positive impact every product has on people and the planet. It ensures that every choice you make here is a good one. From Fair Trade to Green products, you can feel confident that you are buying from responsible businesses and often, direct from the producer. Learn more at www.worldofgood.com. Other great fair trade sites include Ten Thousand Villages and Global Girlfriend.
If you've never heard of Etsy, get ready for a wonderland of homemade, vintage and hand-crafted items. This site is wonderful because it supports the little guy, allowing independent artists and individuals to generate income by selling their wares online. Items range from jewelry to clothing to plants and quilts. Virtually anything can be found with a unique and independent twist. Why is this a good place to put your money? Well, you put those dollars directly in the pocket of the artisan, and allow them to earn a living doing what they love, without lining the pockets of a middle man. Plus, it's great to give smaller businesses a consideration--it's good to branch out from chain stores and mass-produced merchandise. More at www.etsy.com. Other great sites are hard to find--go out into your neighborhood gift stores and ask for local and handmade!
Stephanie Bernstein is the Founder and CEO of To-Go Ware. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for 12 years and currently resides in Oakland, CA.