It’s up to us, the customers, to find the charities that actually help the people they say they’re helping and not to support ones where they end up accidentally (or purposefully) harming people. We’ve tried to sort through and find companies that deliver on the promises they make, so if you’re looking for a gift that will do some good beyond the underside of your tree, hopefully you can find some stuff on this list.
Victory: Headwaters Ale
Environmental issues are some of the hardest to know what and how to reduce. It’s a system where everything affects every other thing. If you want a crash course, Bill Nye has made it a personal crusade to educate people on the effects. Something small you can do is educate yourself on your local water sources and what you can do to help keep them healthy.
Surprisingly, one of the things you can do is buy more beer. Most breweries understand that clean water makes good beer, but Victory Brewing has taken it a step further and moved to protect water sources countrywide. The Headwater Grant is funded by the sales of Headwaters Ale and is used to protect and the preserve water sources Victory uses to brew its beer and the local community uses as their water source.
Victory didn’t compromise on quality for Headwaters either, so it’s not like you’re downgrading. Headwaters is a solid beer, just as you’d expect from Victory, so you can enjoy yourself and also fund a good environmental cause. Beer Finder | Headwaters Grant
Warby Parker: Downing 16
Glasses are one of the more expensive medically necessary things people need. Because they’re so expensive, sometimes the people who need them can’t afford to buy them. If they can’t see, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to find or hold a job, which means they won’t have an income to afford new glasses. Luckily, Warby Parker saw this problem and works to solve it by working with a number of nonprofit partners. With Warby Parker’s support, the nonprofits are able to sell glasses at actually affordable prices.
Because not all of us wear glasses, but most of us would, at the very least, consider wearing sunglasses, our pick for Warby Parker is their Downing 16 sunglasses. They come in both Lemon and Whiskey Tortoise styles and both would fit well in pretty much every modern ensemble. Plus, there’s no prescription in these, so there’s no danger of giving them to someone and that person not being able to use them. $95 | Buy a Pair, Give a Pair
We Wood: Kappa
Let’s start with good news. Deforestation is declining. That’s a pretty big victory in the fight against climate change. It hasn’t stopped and we haven’t entered reforestation territory yet, but if you don’t like that, there are ways to change that too. You could buy a watch. We Wood makes watches out of sustainably sourced wood and plants a tree for every watch sold, making that two ways that they’re working toward reforestation. They have a few locations they’re focusing their tree planting efforts and you can see all of them on their website.
We picked the Kappa model because it’s a design that exemplifies exactly why this company is successful. It’s simple, tasteful, and unlike most other watches on the market. There are a few colors to choose from and even though they’re all technically the same model, each color puts a new twist on the design and makes them look completely different. $160 | You Buy a Watch, We Plant a Tree
Burt’s Bees: Men’s Gift Set
It might not sound important, but we can’t stress enough how important it is for people to know the difference between honeybees and wasps. If you don’t, learn quickly, because the honeybee extinction is a dangerous possibility. Burt’s Bees, rightly, has seen the signs and begun working to prevent the honeybee extinction, which makes sense, since their entire business is based on the continued existence of honeybees. Since 2007, The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation has been supporting grassroots initiatives that support human and honeybee wellbeing. Recently, the organization has been focusing on improving pollination options for bees by planting wildflowers in and around farmland.
And you might think Burt’s Bees is just for women who like yellow and trendy chapsticks, but they also offer a decent range of skincare products. We especially like the look of the Men’s Gift Set, since it includes pretty much everything we men slather on ourselves. It has a shave cream, aftershave, body wash, lip balm, and hand salve, all stuff we have used or currently use in our daily hygiene routine. Also, the guy’s name is Burt and he has a wicked beard. We’re on board. $25 | Outreach
Nisolo: Lockwood Trench Boot
There’s no better way to support cobblers than buying their shoes. It’s kind of their entire business model. Back in 2011, that model wasn’t really coming through for Peruvian shoemakers, as was noticed by Patrick Woodyard. He found the cobblers in Peru were extraordinarily talented, but had little to no access to the global market. Woodyard founded the company with that in mind, working closely with Peruvian shoemakers to ensure that the company put the employees first, providing consistent employment and a secure income. What they ended up with was a company that brought shoes that were beautifully designed and sturdy to people who were more than willing to pay for a bit of transparency and peace of mind.
The Lockwood Trench Boot is a great example of what Nisolo offers. It’s a solid, fashionable boot that would be more than enough to complete an outfit if it wasn’t busy being the best looking thing in it. Buying one of these means you’ve not only entered the world of high fashion, but you’ve made sure that a cobbler who might not otherwise have stable employment can pay their bills. $248 | Social Impact
From War to Peace: Beers Not Bombs ‘Classic’ Bottle Opener
Despite what certain warhawks would have you believe, it seems that the world is finally coming out from under the ominous, deadly weight that was nuclear proliferation and mutually assured destruction. Don’t get us wrong, we still have the power to blow up the earth multiple times over, but thousands of nuclear weapons across the world have been disarmed and dismantled since the peak of the Cold War. Overall, it feels like we can finally afford to breathe a little easier. Out of this disarmament, From War to Peace recycled copper and created Peace Bronze, a metal they use to make jewelry, accessories, and art. We thought the best fit for our readers was their Beer Not Bombs line of accessories, particularly their Classic bottle opener. It’s a simple piece with a clear-cut objective, an objective we can get behind completely. Not getting nuked is one of our favorite things, so if there are ways we can keep doing that, we’ll find them. $25 | From War to Peace
Humble Store: ‘Day of the Devs’ Bundle OR Dishonored 2
There are two picks in this entry because the Humble Store gives you two very cool ways to help out. First, and it’s the one they’re more famous for, is their Humble Bundle. There are usually seven or more games available in the whole bundle available in different tiers. The customer designates how much they are willing to pay and different amounts unlock different tiers. Paying more than average unlocks a second tier of games while paying more than a certain amount unlocks the third. Occasionally a fourth tier will be included, including special editions or additional content. After you’ve picked your price, the Humble Store allows you to tell them exactly how much you want to give to the game developers, the charity of your choice, and the Humble staff.
Buying from the Humble Store is a bit different. Ten percent of your purchase goes to either their default charity or one you’ve chosen. Considering how much gamers spend, their donations aren’t small. They hit $50 million in donations to charities back in 2014, and that number’s only growing.
There are plenty of other bundles and games to buy on their site too. You can get books, software, and mobile apps. It’s a great way to get a ton of entertainment while also helping support dozens of charities. Bundle | Game | Charities
Steamm: Artisan Espresso
Subscription boxes have exploded in popularity recently. It’s likely that you could live your life from here on only using things you got out of them. Naturally included in that claim is your morning coffee. Steamm provides six to twelve bottles of artisan espresso every one, two, or three weeks, depending on your personal preference. They also offer a choice between canee sugar and stevia for those who have concerns about their sweeteners.
Beyond that, the company has a Shot for Shot program, which benefits Shot@Life, an organization focused on providing immunizations to every child in need. Shot@Life has done a ton to prevent children falling victim to preventable diseases, with life saving numbers in the tens of millions. So your morning or afternoon caffeine fix could help finally rid the world of polio. It’s a tall order for an espresso, but coffee’s already doing a hell of a lot of heavy lifting getting us all out of bed. Compared to that, eradicating polio isn’t much of an additional challenge. $18+/month | Shot for Shot