Shopping While Conscious: A Holiday Gift Guide for Social Entrepreneurs

By Caitlin Copple Masingill / Dec 11, 2017

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When you’re a social entrepreneur, the season of giving can create all the feels. Sure, giving is great, but for many of us in the purpose-driven B Corp movement, the holidays represent cruel confrontations not only with that politically offensive uncle, but also our own internal ambivalence about consumerism. 

So how can you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukah without feeling like you’re selling out on the values that drove you to start or work for a socially conscious company in the first place?

That’s where this handy-dandy guide comes in. In a crowded landscape of gift guides aimed at near-sighted unicyclists, gluten-free yogis, single parents on a budget and every demographic in between, this list includes our top picks for impressing the socially conscious entrepreneurs in your life with gifts that serve a higher purpose: transforming business into a force for good.

You’ll see that this guide mostly leaves out apparel and accessories because our friends at Cause Artist’s Social Impact Gift Guide have that covered (and yes, puns are always in season). The one overlap is this set of really amazing headphones by LSTN, where every purchase helps fund hearing aids around the world (thanks to Curt Bowen at Semilla Nueva for bringing them to our attention).  

In a crowded landscape of gift guides aimed at near-sighted unicyclists, gluten-free yogis, single parents on a budget and every demographic in between, this list includes our top picks for impressing the socially conscious entrepreneurs in your life with gifts that serve a higher purpose.

First, the books…

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It turns out that changing the world comes with a guide (or two). From Rise Up: How to Build a Socially Conscious Business by our own Russ Stoddard to Frederick Alexander’s handbook on how and why to start a legal public benefit corporation,

Benefit Corporation Law and Governance: Pursuing Profit with Purpose, there’s no shortage of good books for B Corp aficionados. Ryan Honeyman, a partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook, suggests

Drawdown by Paul Hawken and Raise Capital on your Own Terms by Jenny Kassan.

Marketing maven and social entrepreneur Amanda Larrinaga suggests The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna as a must-read for your friend who just quit the corporate life to follow their dream of creating a more purposeful career. Her other fave is the Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, which helps people align their goals to their soul through exercises and affirmations aimed at creating greater inner clarity that can become outer action.

Perfect for Your Officemate

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Who doesn’t love popcorn? Americans eat 17 billion pounds of it per year, and even Olivia Pope is not immune to the power of the pop. The Women’s Bean Project is a nonprofit social enterprise that employs chronically homeless women and teaches them how to make nutritious and good-for-the-planet products, including gourmet popcorn in flavors like Vietnamese coconut curry and blue popcorn with salted caramel seasoning.

Oliver Russell client and founder of B1G1, Masami Sato, suggests this line of Giving Gift Cards, greeting cards that make a difference, for people who want to share the gift of giving this year. Created in partnership with a member company, Tracey Keller, these butterfly cards are gorgeous and affordable. B1G1 members can get a special discount here.

The Party-Goer

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Social entrepreneurs, in our experience, thrive when we find our tribe. Each year, Sarah Calhoun, founder of Red Ants Pants, which makes work wear for women that actually fits, invites 10,000 of her closest friends to her neighbor’s cow pasture in White Sulphur Springs, Montana each summer to listen to the likes of Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Brandi Carlile, and the late Merle Haggard. Proceeds from the music festival support the brand’s nonprofit foundation that’s dedicated to fostering strength and self-reliance in women and rural, agricultural communities. Ticketing for the July 26-29 festival opens March 31, a bonus if you are currently broke or just a procrastinator.

The Ladyfriend

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Whether your lady is strictly platonic, a relative, or your significant other, most of us dig jewelry. Show off your style and social conscience with these recommendations from Payton McGriff, CEO of Style Her Empowered, a nonprofit that helps girls in Togo access education, funded in part by its own product line of tees, hats and totes. Payton is a longtime fan of Purpose Jewelry, a social enterprise that funds International Sanctuary by providing survivors of human trafficking with meaningful employment. There are pieces for any budget and each is handcrafted. All proceeds go to benefiting girls and women escaping human trafficking.  

Treat yourself

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When you are hell-bent on changing the world, your drive can take a personal or physical toll, often in the form of constantly feeling distracted or illness in the body. Give yourself the gift of slowing down at 1440, a luxury resort and retreat center that brings together luminary faculty members like Cheryl StrayedRodney YeeElizabeth Gilbert and Alanis Morissette with seekers dedicated to personal and professional growth. I recently attended a Hello Soul retreat held at 1440, and I promise, even if all you do there is eat and sit in the infinity hot pool overlooking thousand year-old trees, it will totally be worth it. 

Another indulgence that’s closer to home than a weekend at 1440 is a set of Boll & Branch sheets. Invite luxury into your home with a set of sheets that are 100% organic, fair trade and crafted by a certified B Corporation. You’ll feel good about dropping $200-plus on sheets because the company gives a portion back to fight human trafficking.  

What are we missing? We’d love to hear your ideas for giving with a social impact. Email me at ccmasingill@oliverrussell.com.

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Caitlin Copple Masingill

Caitlin is the quintessential connector of people and causes. She specializes in helping purpose-driven companies select the best messengers to tell powerful stories to the right audiences. Caitlin brings to Oliver Russell more than 10 years’ experience in journalism, communications, and most recently, public affairs consulting. A self-described political nerd, she served as a Missoula City Councilwoman from 2012-2015 and loves all things outdoors.