Holiday shopping with purpose

Consumers should take advantage of services combining consumerism and charity.

Luis Ruuska

With Black Friday madness now a fresh memory, and only three weekends left for Christmas shopping, the holiday season is upon us.

The National Retail Foundation expects consumers to spend $602.1 billion this season — a 3.9 percent increase from 2012. About $82 billion of that will be spent online.

While we shop for our loved ones, most consumers have causes in mind.

Communications firm Cone found in a 2010 survey that nearly nine out of 10 consumers want companies to do more to support causes during the holiday season.

Companies have picked up on this and developed services to make it easier than ever for consumers to donate.

Socialvest, for example, allows consumers to give to charities whenever they shop at an approved retailer. These retailers will rebate anywhere from 1 to 35 percent of a purchase to the consumer’s Socialvest account, which the consumer can donate to any nonprofit organization in the country.

The website We-Care.com works in a similar way, offering both a website and a plugin that donates a percentage of a consumer’s purchase to any nonprofit, school or other association.

We-Care.com also conglomerates coupon codes from across the web — like at RetailMeNot.com — for consumers, which stretches shopping dollars even further.

Although Amazon.com is nothing new, it does have a new program called AmazonSmile that allows users to select a charity to receive 0.5 percent of their eligible purchases.

Americans gave only $298.3 billion to charity in 2011, a number that pales in comparison to what we spend at retailers this time of year.

It’s unrealistic to expect most people to spend more on charity than on loved ones, but by shopping smart and using these services, consumers don’t have to choose. Plus, shopping with charities in mind is a great way to spread some holiday cheer and your dollar even further.