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Move To Make Ethical Gifts Better Than Commercial Presents

14 December 2016 at 8:56 am
Wendy Williams
A new wave of organisations is finding ways to make ethical and impactful Christmas presents that are better than commercial gifts in a bid to tip the scales in favour of the social good economy.

Wendy Williams | 14 December 2016 at 8:56 am


Move To Make Ethical Gifts Better Than Commercial Presents
14 December 2016 at 8:56 am

A new wave of organisations is finding ways to make ethical and impactful Christmas presents that are better than commercial gifts in a bid to tip the scales in favour of the social good economy.

Crowdfunding platform has launched a Christmas catalogue of unique gifts it claims are both desirable and do good.

The latest move builds on campaigns, such as Oxfam’s Unwrapped campaign, that arose in the early 2000s with the idea of giving someone a donation to charity, or a goat, instead of a real gift. CEO Prashan Paramanathan said they hoped to take this idea to the next level by finding gifts that were actually better than commercial gifts.

“That was our starting point,” Paramanathan said.

“We scoured our 4,000-plus social good crowdfunding campaigners to find the ones that were making gifts and experiences that were better than what you could get on the high street.”

Some of the gifts available include two hours of cuddles with a dog or cat to support a local animal rescue shelter, a tin of organic, award-winning Ovvio Tea, with the exact same tin being donated to a woman in a domestic violence shelter or you can get a Canberra-based theatre group to create a personalised song about someone, with the money going to support Lifeline Canberra.

The aim is by shifting from donations to reward transactions it will disrupt models of giving and unlock the retail spending market.

It follows reports into crowdfunding that indicate a growing number of campaigns are offering perks or rewards in return for donations.

Meanwhile, research has suggested that people sometimes avoid giving ethical gifts for fear of it being taken the wrong way.

According to Giving the Gift of Goodness: An Exploration of Socially Responsible Gift-Giving, published in the Journal of Business Ethics in March this year: “In some instances, consumers actively avoid purchasing products from socially responsible organisations and do so with the intention of managing their impressions with the gift recipient.

“The decision to engage in socially responsible consumption for oneself but not for others was motivated by a variety of factors including the role of the recipient and a concern over the credibility of socially responsible gifts,” the report said.

It comes as Alphabet the owner of Google has been making headlines this week for donating US$30 million (A$40.12 million) in tech hardware and support to schools on its employee’s behalf rather than giving the staff Christmas presents.

Google was previously known for lavishing its employees with the latest tech gear, with employees in previous years receiving Chromebook laptops and Android smart watches. According to Fortune, the latest move is part of a new culture of accountability and cost-consciousness.

But with Australians set to spend a record $48 billion on Christmas this year, it is a significant time to encourage people to make more mindful decisions when it comes to gift giving.

Paramanathan said finding social good gifts that were excellent gifts in their own right could be the tipping point.

“If we can get people buying the gifts, not just because they do good, but because they’re excellent gifts, that’s the tipping point,” Paramanathan said.

“That’s when we’ll see large volumes of previously commercial gift spend flowing into the social good economy.

“Extend that further and you’ve got a social good Red Balloon, with even better experiences.”

As part of the project Telstra Foundation is also match funding the Chuffed Christmas Catalogue up to $10,000, so each time someone buys a gift, the foundation will donate the same amount to the organisation that the gift supports.

It comes as The Good Xmas Trail initiative is also encouraging shoppers around Australia to shop or eat out at more than 40 different social enterprises that participate in activities aimed at tackling a wide range of social issues locally and internationally.

Launched in 2015, The Good Xmas Trail invites all Australians to take the opportunity to make the festive season go further by supporting responsible businesses whose profits tackle issues like homelessness, food waste or human rights.

Some of the social enterprises involved in this year’s The Good Xmas Trail include Fruit2Work, Who Gives A Crap, Recipe4Change and Goodwill Wine.

The Good Xmas Trail founder Clifford Moss said he wanted to encourage people who were planning their Christmas celebrations to consider choosing a different sort of venue or caterer this year.

“Whether it’s supporting local community kitchens tackling food waste, grabbing their daily coffee from outlets that help the homeless or enjoying a few drinks in the knowledge that you’re making a difference in the developing world, it doesn’t take much to leave a trail of good behind you while having a good time,” Moss said.

“We are aiming to facilitate a culture of responsibility and inclusion by utilising the spirit of Christmas to help those less fortunate than us around the country.

“With so many of us fortunate enough to be enjoying the festive period and buying gifts for loved ones, wouldn’t it be great if our decisions and actions could help those for whom Christmas isn’t such a positive time?”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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