Five years ago I spent three weeks in Cambodia. I saw poverty like I’d never seen before, and I met girls who experienced horrors beyond my wildest imagination. But in the darkness, there was also light. Christian NGOs hard at work to rescue, and restore these girls—to offer them a better future; a way out of poverty and relief from the desperation that leads to the sale of innocent young girls in the first place.
I came home with a changed perspective (which tends to happen whenever you encounter true brokenness) and I needed some way to allow what I saw to change how I lived. Jeff Goins says this is what being wrecked is all about; “It’s about embracing the journey of being brokenhearted for a broken world and allowing it to shape you” (from his book Wrecked).
As Christmas approached just a few months after returning from Cambodia, a light bulb went off in my head. “If I am going to spend money on gifts anyway, why not spend it at organizations like the ones I visited in Cambodia? Organizations fighting poverty, providing education, and overall, working hard to make the world a better place?” So that is exactly what I did.
Today, I want to ask you the same question; if you are going to spend money on gifts anyway, why not give gifts that give back?
Below is a list of organizations I’ve compiled to help you shop. Some organizations I know personally from my time in Cambodia. A couple of them were started by individuals I went to college with, and others I found through good old internet research. But all of them are worthwhile places to buy your gifts.
Gifts That Give Back
3 Strands Global
Sells: Accessories (jewelry, bags, scarves, etc.) and T-Shirts.
3Strands Global Foundation supports organizations that offer unique and effective approaches to fighting human trafficking including employment services to at-risk communities, restorative services to survivors, and preventative services for vulnerable and at-risk youth.
All items are created by women in the employments centers in at-risk communities.
*You need to enter a referral code at check out to indicate which organizations you want to support. Find the referral codes here.
Sells: Accessories (bags, scarves, wallets, etc.), T-Shirts, and Greeting Cards.
Rapha House is an international safe house program which has won the favor of the governments in the countries in which it works. It is an organization which practices excellence in the standards of caring for children who have been rescued from these traumatic situations. The Rapha House model is to find native people who are qualified and passionate about combating the issues of child slavery and sexual exploitation in their own countries, and equipping them to combat on behalf of these children.
Most items are created by girls living in their safe houses.
Sells: Hats, Scarves, Apparel, and Bags from men, women, and children
Empowerment is the reason why we exist. Our products, our partners, and our community work in unison to help people break the cycle of poverty, forever. We provide life-changing job opportunities to women in need. With each purchase you make we introduce you to the woman who made your product and invite you to visit her online profile to learn more about her.
Raven + Lily
Sells: Accessories (jewelry, bags, scarves, etc.), Apparel, and Home Goods.
Raven + Lily employs more than 1,500 at-risk women in 10 countries around the world and counting, providing them with a fair trade wage and access to a safe job, sustainable income, healthcare, and other tools they need to thrive. Additionally, every purchase of a Raven + Lily product, whether it is artisan jewelry and handbags or handcrafted soaps and soy candles, benefits the Raven + Lily ecosystem while also funding microloans to female entrepreneurs.
Ten Thousand Villages
Sells: Jewlery and Home Goods
Ten Thousand Villages is more than a store. It’s a place where you can explore and connect with your global village. From communities throughout the developing world, every inspired design is crafted with love using local materials (usually natural or recycled) and time-honored skills by makers we have known and worked with for years. Every purchase improves the lives of makers by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income.
Sells: Jewelry and Home Goods
We began 31 Bits with a simple idea: To give artisans dignified job opportunities by making products that women would buy. Sounds simple, but it took passion, grit, and most of all customers like you who have followed along since the beginning.
The Little Market
Sells: Accessories (jewelry, bags, keychains, etc.), Home Goods, and Baby Items
The Little Market is an online fair trade shop founded by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla where customers can purchase beautiful products handmade by artisans around the world. We provide design insights, helping our partners to showcase their traditional skills and cultural techniques to a broader audience. We practice fair trade principles, and every purchase from The Little Market generates meaningful income for the artisans and their families.
Sells: Apparel for men, women, and children, Bags, and Jewlery
Hope Outfitters started because Jesus gave up everything to love us and we, in a small way, want to do the same. So here’s how it works: we design and sell apparel and give all of the profits away. Every 4-6 months we partner with a new charity, work to create awareness for it and donate 100% of the profits from the sale of our clothing back to its cause. We call it, Buy 1 Give 100–You buy 1 or more items and we give 100% of the profits back to the cause.
Sells: Subscriptions to their quarterly “Causebox.” You can also do one time purchases of the current box or of a “favorites” box.
We don’t just support brands that give back. We also give back. We partner with and serve different charities to help them raise funds, reach more people, and tell their stories of empowerment and impact.
Agape International Missions Store
Sells: Accessories, Bath & Body, and T-shirts
All of products sold here are made at the AIM Employment Center (AEC), which since 2012 has been providing rescued young women with training in garment manufacturing, healthcare coverage, childcare, counseling, and continued language education, all while being compensated well above the national average. Your purchase of our products directly impacts the lives of these rescued girls and allows us to continue combatting sex-trafficking.
Do you have a place to add to the list? Let me know in the comment!
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