Are you shopping for holidays, solstice, or the new year? Does your entire family celebrate birthdays in the month of December, like mine? Do you struggle each year with thoughtful, powerful gifts filled with your special person in mind, but also with a mind to women? Well then you and I should just shop for each other this year!
Each year I scour and spend lots of time finding gifts that mean something to me, make me think of the people I love, and are worth the money, even if it is just a few dollars. And each year I appreciate when others have done the same: those gifts always mean so much more. I have family members who greatly prefer the practical, and friends who love the impactful. Here’s my short list for 2012 with a little of both!
And, you and I aren’t the only ones. The Women’s Philanthropy Institute out of the Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis completed a number of surveys that determined that women are more likely to donate, and donate more, than men. Check out their website for more info, and to learn about the classes “She Makes Change” to learn more about the connections between women, money and philanthropy. The larger fundraising community is gearing its advertisements and slogans toward women, somewhat based on these recent studies, according to Fran Hawthorne’s recent article in The New York Times:
“…The wider philanthropy world, too, is discovering the differences between men and women. A half-dozen studies have been published in the last two years — the first systematic research into gender and philanthropy — revealing that women generally donate more, are more actively involved in the given charities, demand more proof of effectiveness and prefer somewhat different causes than men…
‘Women are coalescing around women’s and girls’ issues to a greater extent,’ said Claire M. Costello, national foundation executive at Bank of America, who has worked with the Indiana institute…
At the 2009 annual meeting, Ms. Sabelhaus announced, ‘I’m going to give you the opportunity tonight to be the first to donate $100,000!’ Sixty-one women promptly raised their hands, she reported.
‘Women have to give out loud,’ she added. ‘Because it inspires other women.'”
Let’s realize that statement one more time: “Women have to give out loud because it inspires other women.” LOVE THIS.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for groups from which you might purchase some items, with women in the forefront. There is, of course, always the option of direct donation to local or global groups, or purchasing a product that goes immediately to women and families, such as through Heifer International. Additionally, you can participate first-hand in the micro-loan process through Kiva, where all of your money comes back to you and you can lend again. But, if shopping is more your style, here’s my short list this year.
(Note: not one of these is sponsored, I am not nearly that fancy!)
Developed by the awesome people at Women Deliver (see my daily passion for them here). They link to the World Bank page on gender inequality, World Health Organization (WHO) page on gender, health and women, and Women Deliver’s homepage. An awesome bibliography standing behind the work. To decide where to donate funding, you pick an issue from the “I care about…” drop-down menu. The projects are uploaded by the groups organizing them. You can also join “teams” of people focusing on certain issues that divide money between a number of projects.
From their website: “Because equality for girls and women makes a better planet for everyone. To some people — it’s about rights. To others — it’s about smart economics. Either way — we cannot see progress in our world without addressing gender equality. There are so many organizations already doing brilliant work for girls and women. They have the expertise, the cultural understanding, and they’ve scoped solutions for big changes. They just need funding.”
This is my favorite of the bunch. Their website and advertising of the Ethiopian women’s stories, names, voices, and futures are the most tangible. The scarves are beautiful and look completely worth the work, the money, and the giving. Each scarf comes with a “Because of you, I am able to…” tag. And that really means a gift for everyone involved.
From their website: “Your purchase of a fashionABLE scarf creates sustainable business for women in Africa. Our commitment as a non-profit is to the development of people — fashionABLE works with women who have been exploited due to the effects of poverty. So, when you purchase a scarf you are providing jobs, and then we send the net profits back to holistically rehabilitate more women. This is the beauty of non-profit…. Scarves provide jobs, profits provide restoration.”
Another great organization connecting women to the global market. Either for individual or wholesale, these products by Ghanian women meld local crafts-womanship with modern style, and make dresses and tops and necklaces that can be reached and worn by women everywhere. Individual stories of each woman artist is included on the website. For women, by women. A beautiful circle.
From their website: “Global Mamas helps women in Africa to access global markets and manage their growing businesses. We enable the financial independence of these women by promoting their traditional skills in producing handmade products. Global Mamas provides direct access to markets in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia and works extensively with each woman on new product development and quality control. We also provide artisans with personalized, hands-on business assistance and computer training to strengthen their capacity to manage their growing enterprises.”
Their mission below says it all: buy these products and their proceeds go directly back to women in the communities. The pictures and biographies of the women artists are beautiful, touching, and really allow a feeling of connection to the product, the artist, and the gift of connecting women. I will definitely find a few gifts for my loved ones through this group.
From their website: “Raven + Lily is a socially responsible brand dedicated to empowering women through design partnerships and sustainable economic opportunities. In addition to creating sustainable economic opportunities for marginalized women, Raven + Lily is dedicated to returning proceeds to our partner communities to fund education, healthcare, and micro-loans. By purchasing R+L products, consumers are part of breaking the cycle of poverty and transforming the lives of women and families. Raven + Lily is proud to be a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum’s 500 Fellows around the globe. This is an exclusive group of 500 of the world’s foremost innovators and leaders in the fashion sector. We also received the StayClassy regional winner award for Philanthropic Business of the Year in 2012. We are certified by “Green America” as an environmentally and socially responsible business.”
Through their Gifts that Give Back, there are a list of items that can be purchased for women directly in communities internationally. Choose from gifts under $25 or up to $100+, from categories of job skills, training, education, organic farming, or animals. There is a disclaimer that these gifts are ‘symbolic’ and the donation goes to the overall mission of the group, but read the mission below and you’ll be sold on symbolism or pure donation.
From their website: “Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time.”
I recently received this catalog in the mail because there is a physical store in my now-home state. Though there appears to be no direct donation to women’s groups, there is worth in promoting a great company. Their website is full of women athletes who second-hand as clothing models, history of the Title IX program, and achievements of employees of the store and women athletes everywhere. Clothing graphics display art of powerful women, including limited-edition t-shirts designed by women artists and celebrating women in sport. Fantastic!
From their website: “At Title Nine we LIVE and breathe Title IX. We use real women models in our catalogs… shots of real women, with real bodies, being real athletes. We have an evangelical culture around fitness and sports. In the heart of our office is a full gym, where you can regularly find Title Niners testing their strength and hootin’ and hollerin’. Every three months we launch in-house fitness challenges, and once a year we hold the T9 Olympics, a full day with company squads facing off in Noodle Hockey, Cup Stacking, and Mega Ball. In 2011 we tackled a 200-mile relay run from San Francisco to Napa! As a celebration of Title Nine we challenge ourselves every day. We are strong believers that a fit woman is fit for everything.”