Gifts that Give – Social Enterprise Guide for the Holidays

Every year around mid-November when I notice after dark is sprinkled with twinkling Christmas lights, and the timeless carols hit the radios everywhere, I start to dread the pursuit of checking off my holiday present list.

No matter how hard I try, I can never manage to quite land on a gift idea that lives up what each of my loved ones mean to me.  Of course, the “awesomeness” of a gift doesn’t equate to expressing love for someone, but it sure makes gift giving over the holidays more fun!

In an attempt to take my gift-giving up a notch this year, I compiled a list of social ventures making cool things that I bet your loved ones will fall in love with.

With each of these items you give to someone important in your life, the social enterprise behind is dedicated to giving back to their community, the environment, or a cause equally close to their heart.



Give a card that donates to the charity of his/her choice.

The Card That Gives allows you to give a preloaded ‘charity card’ to anyone on your gift list.  The recipient can then access a database of 90,000 Registered Charities and direct the dollar amount of the card to the charity of his/her choice as a cash donation.  Soon the database will include charities across North America!





Give art and support homeless
and disabled artists to earn a living.

ArtLifting is a benefit corporation that provides homeless and disabled artists the opportunity to earn their own income. ArtLifting sells original paintings, art prints, and products so artists can earn recurring income from each piece. Artists keep 55% of the profit from each sale.

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Thistle Farms


Give candles, body butter (+ much more) and help survivors of prostitution earn a sustainable income.

Thistle Farms is a sanctuary for healing for women survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking and prostitution. Residents and graduates work in the social enterprise in roles from product design to sales, and as a result are able to achieve greater independence and financial sustainability.

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Bureo Skateboards (& Sunglasses)


Give sunglasses made from 100% recycled fishnets and tackle ocean plastic waste.

Bureo is making waves reducing ocean plastic waste. Discarded fishnets make up an estimated 10% of ocean plastic waste, but through Bureo’s fishnet collection and recycling program, Net Positiva, they are taking this ocean waste and using it as the main source of material for their innovative skateboards and sunglasses.

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Give a backpack and reduce waste going to landfills.

RAREFORM designs unique upcycled bags and sports gear for outdoor enthusiasts by intercepting billboards before they reach the landfills.

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Give a jacket and fund a grant to advance health, education and alleviate poverty.

Cotopaxi creates innovative outdoor products that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.  They focus their efforts on global poverty alleviation & give targeted grants to advance health, education, and livelihoods initiatives around the world.

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Global Good Partners


Give a scarf and support artisans around the world.

Global Goods Partners is a nonprofit social enterprise that directs the proceeds from the sale of products into supporting their artisan partners. They are committed to keeping their operational costs low so that a higher percentage of sales can be allocated to support programs for our artisan partners.

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Give jewellery and give Cambodian artisans fair wages.

Saught creates employment opportunities in developing countries like Cambodia – with a goal to help reduce poverty, and make sure the artisans they work with lead full and happy lives (working in safe environments with insurance, housing allowances, fair pay, and skill training opportunities).  Each piece of jewellery is handcrafted one at a time and contains redeemed artillery shells recovered in Cambodia by NGO partners.

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Global Wonders Jewelry


Give jewellery and provide housing and recovery programs to survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking.

The social enterprise for SA Foundation (SAF)Canada, profits from Global Wonders support the foundation’s programs, including short and long term housing, life skills development and job training.

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Bambu Home


Give a cork bowl for environmental sustainability. 

Bambu keeps environmental sustainability top of mind for all their products. They produce organic utensils, seek 3rd-party certification and testing, promote fair labor practices and safe working conditions, and green their supply chain where they work directly with Chinese manufacturers where they live.

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The Citizenry


Give pillows and give artisans grants to grow their businesses.

With fair trade standards and 10% of proceeds invested back into artisan communities, Citizenry artisan partners are given the best prices for their skills. With sustaining grants offered by Citizenry, artisan partners are able to take their crafts and their businesses to new places.

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Twenty One Toys


Give a toy that teaches better empathy.

The Empathy Toy is a blindfolded puzzle game that can only be solved when players learn to understand each other.  Sounds like the perfect gift to break out with the family on Christmas morning!

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Fair Phone


Give a phone that is changing the way electronics are made.

Fair Phone is a social enterprise that is building a movement for fairer electronics.  Their modular phone that you can repair yourself is made to last.  Fair Phone is making a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing and life cycle, while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first.

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LSTN Headphones


Give headphones that fund hearing.

LSTN’s mission is to provide high quality products that help fund hearing restoration and spread awareness for the global problem of hearing loss and hearing impairment. For every purchase, they help provide hearing aids to a person in need through their charity partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation.

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Voltaic Systems


Give the gift of solar power.

Voltaic Systems not only helps their customers power-up on solar, but across their own supply chain they conserve resources by identifying and using environmentally preferable materials, making products modular for easy repair, choosing solar panels that have a long lifetime, eliminating unnecessary packaging, and reusing as much as possible.

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Still don’t see the perfect gift for someone on your list?

Here are 27 Online Stores That Benefit Non Profits and 10 Tribute Gift Programs That Benefit Non Profits.

Want to learn about more innovative social enterprise business models?

Read our list of 22 Awesome Social Enterprise Business Ideas.

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