Gifts that Give Back: 5 Ideas for Ethical Gift Giving

Ethical gift giving isn’t new, but the Internet has opened up a whole new world of innovative options for gift givers to find the perfect charitable cause.

And charities are making it easier, too. The websites of many favorite charities have made available not only gift catalogs but gift registries, too, so you can let your loved ones know where you prefer any donations (made in your honor) to go.

What are “Ethical Gifts?”

Ethical gifts are those that give back in some way. The traditional definition mostly takes the form of a charitable donation, but, in this post, we’ll expand that definition to include all of those gifts that give back, whether to a favorite cause, to a community or to a group of artisans.

Here are five innovative ways that you can give an ethical gift.

1. Send Charity Cards. There are two ways to make your holiday greeting cards into ethical gifts. The first is to order a set of recycled cards from your favorite charity. The money you pay for these cards and/or gifts will benefit the charity. The other way, offered by some organizations, is to purchase a card that includes a charitable donation when the card is sold. The easiest way to find these cards is to visit the website of your favorite charitable organization.

2. TisBest Cards.
You can purchase these cards just like traditional gift cards from the TisBest website. Tisbest then sends the card via email (or you can print a certificate). Your recipient will be able to go online to choose which charity receives the donation. Visit >

3. Global Giving cards. helps connect you to a wide variety of projects and causes that you might never have otherwise known about. Browse the available causes on the website by country or by theme. Choose projects to support, make a tax-deductible contribution and then get regular updates so you can see the effects of your donation. Here again, you can give a gift card (for as little as $10) so your loved one has the ability to choose the causes and projects to support.

4. Alternative Gifts International. This site at – and others, including Heifer International ( and WorldVision (, make it easy to select a charitable gift that will help people all over the world.

In the Alternative Gifts International catalog, which you can view in its entirety online, you can choose an interest that you wish to support in the name of your gift recipient. You can donate to education, stopping hunger, reducing child mortality, gender equality, maternal health, medical services, environmental stability and several other projects.

Within each section there are many different areas you can donate to, around the world and in the United States. For example, you can donate to build rural medical clinics in Bolivia or donate food to hungry families in Iraq. Prices of these charitable gifts vary from several hundred dollars to just $5 to $10.

5. Support an artisan with your gift purchase. Fair Trade is a name for an economic and environmental program that offers growers and producers of many different types of goods fair wages and resources for the items that they produce. Instead of creating a marketplace based on the lowest prices possible and harsh work conditions, Fair Trade is a way of recognizing products and companies that think about the impact on humanity and not just the bottom line. See Momscape’s article on Fair Trade for more information.

Here are a few online stores with programs that give back to the artisans: has a Gifts That Give Back shop which helps make a difference in the lives artisans across the globe who can achieve livable wages with the help of your purchases. has a special section called Worldstock, which brings to market items made by artisans around the world. Choose everything from handcrafted furniture, home décor, and decorative accessories to handcrafted silver, beaded, and pearl jewelry. has a Shop for a Better World collection, which features a variety of gifts that make a difference, including Rwanda Path to Peace baskets.

Kahina Giving Beauty
Kahina donates 25% of its profits.

A couple more notes about ethical gift giving:

* You might find that ethical gifts are most appreciated by people who are focused on giving in their own daily lives. Maybe someone on your list is a regular volunteer worker or donates to several causes throughout the year.

* It’s wonderful to make a donation in the name of a child, and then to sit down with a map to let the child know where the donation will be going and what kind of good it will be doing. Just keep in mind that this kind of gift will likely be better received if it’s paired with a tangible gift for the child.

What are your favorite ways to give ethical gifts – or gifts that give back? Please share your insights and ideas in the comments section below.

Disclosure:  Momscape is an affiliate of Global Giving, Overstock, Macys, and


  1. Thank you so much for mentioning TisBest on your blog. TisBest Philanthropy offers the highest quality charity gift cards, with over 50 different standard designs, or you can upload your own photo, and you can check the status to see when a gift card is spent and on which charity. Cards can be sent by email, printed on your printer or printed on recycled plastic and sent by mail.

    We have seen a lot of success with parents giving a TisBest Charity Gift Card to their children – in addition to toys and other regular gifts. The parent makes a charitable donation and the child receiving the Charity Gift Card chooses a charity for the donation. With a Charity Gift Card, the child is introduced to the good feelings that come from sharing with others and improving the world. The child feels empowered and encouraged to explore the nonprofit sector in reaching a decision about what charity to support. And because we offer a screened list of 300 charities, the parent can feel comfortable about the browsing environment for their child.

    The gift cards are fully customizable by the purchaser, with 50 different standard designs, or you can upload your own image. Cards can be sent by email, printed on your printer or printed on recycled plastic and sent by mail.

    Erik Marks
    Founder, TisBest Philanthropy (

  2. Thanks for your kind mention of TisBest Charity Gift Cards ( We’re having an exciting time filling orders for people all over the country. Our cards are not only ethical, they’re a terrific idea. After all, Uncle Henry has everything he could possibly use or need — and he’s got enough money to buy whatever he really wants. He’s a perfect candidate for TisBest Charity Gift Card. You make the donation. He gets to choose which charity benefits from your gift!
    I hope you’ll check us out.
    Jon Siegel
    Executive Director
    TisBest Philanthropy

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