CSR Holiday Gifts for the Conscious Consumer

As we enter the season of holiday giving at work, we are confronted with the dilemma of deciding how to celebrate with colleagues without trivializing the challenges of the crippling economy. With every gift shipped to customers, a message is sent about a brand's core values. Against a backdrop of suffocating unemployment and unprecedented hardship, smart companies are looking for ways to demonstrate social consciousness while establishing an emotional connection with customers.

As 2010 comes to a close, the stage is set for a more enlightened year of corporate giving. The logical alternative to the proverbial fruit basket is Corporate Social Responsibility Gifting (CSR Gifting). CSR Gifting offers the opportunity to provide unique and thoughtful gifts for clients while serving a broader social purpose.

In this holiday spirit, I present twelve CSR Gift ideas for companies with a social conscience:

  1. The Kate Spade Hand in Hand Bracelet - A beautiful, tasteful gift that was designed as part of the Women for Women International partnership, 25% of sales are donated to help women survivors in war-torn countries.
  2. Fledgling Wine - Twitter and CrushPad are offering Fledgling Wine from renowned California wineries. A portion of the proceeds goes to Room to Read, a non-profit organization promoting literacy for children worldwide.
  3. Rickshaw Bags - Rickshaw Bags crafts beautifully designed, highly functional sustainable fashion bags and iPad cases for urban commuters that are made in San Francisco from recycled, sustainable materials.
  4. TOMS Shoes - Fun and stylish, for every pair of TOMS shoes sold, founder Blake Mycoskie donates a pair of shoes to a child in the developing world.
  5. Nike Livestrong Jacket - The Nike Livestrong running jacket makes a great gift. A portion of the proceeds go to help the Lance Armstrong Foundation to fight cancer and to support cancer survivors.
  6. Dancing Deer Baking Company - Dancing Deer offers wonderful cookies, gingerbread and dark chocolates. 35% of the proceeds go directly to helping homeless mothers and their children.
  7. Viva Glam Holiday Products Line - Viva Glam Cosmetics supports the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund. The Fund was started in 1994 and donates every dollar of its sales to help support families living with HIV/AIDS.
  8. Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists - Book proceeds support the innovative organization DoSomething.org, a nonprofit focused on promoting teen and youth volunteerism.
  9. Tavern Direct Gifts - Tavern on the Green offers gift sets including marinades, finishing sauces and flavored oils coupled with authentic recipes from the famous NYC restaurant. Donations go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  10. Lakshmi's Designer Ornament - Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi designed this exotic ornament to bring a touch of India to any holiday tree. Proceeds from the sale benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
  11. ONEHOPE Wine - ONEHOPE offers award-winning wine with 50% of the profits going the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Children's Hospitals.
  12. Classy Cookies - Cookies for Kid's Cancer offers several delicious cookies as well as the special Box of Hope. Cookies are packed in beautiful gift boxes and include a note explaining the significance of the gift. 100% of the profits funds pediatric cancer research.

In challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to show appreciation for customers, but perhaps the days of simply throwing money around to make an impression are over. We may have unwittingly arrived at the dawn of a new era in business, where genuine connections between brands and customers are forged based on a shared belief in social purpose. As Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

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