gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for Mom (That Do Good, Too)

Photo: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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There are lots of gifts out there that promise to give back, especially at a time when so many people are in need. Still, we’d understand if you’re skeptical of the whole “shop for a cause” shtick. While the case could be made that every little bit does help, if you’re looking to make every penny count, you’d probably be better off giving directly to a charity in your recipient’s name than buying them a $10 candle that donates 2 percent of proceeds.

But if you’d rather give them a little something that has the added benefit of being charitable, we searched high and low for gifts that, according to their brands and retailers, give back to worthy causes. Read on for what we found, including Yellowstone biodiversity-inspired soap from a historic soapmaking company and a take on the classic Mother’s Day macaroni necklace to support Building Black Bed-Stuy. If you want to donate directly, we’ve also included links to the nonprofits and organizations these products help — or check out our guides to AAPI-focused organizations, groups supporting Black lives and communities of color, survivors of domestic violence, and New York City charities.

Skin care and beauty

From a skin-care set to soothing bath salts, every purchase made at Pink Moon makes an impact. You can choose an organization to donate to at checkout — including nonprofits such as The Loveland Foundation and Animal Haven. We’re particularly partial to the brand’s Taurus clay cleanser, one of our favorite astrological sign-tailored products.

Photo: Retailer

Historic American soap-maker Caswell-Massey, the creator of George Washington’s signature cologne, earned a spot on our holiday list of gifts that give back for its Marie Antoinette–esque rose bath bar that benefits the New York Botanical Garden. Its Marem perfume, originally created in 1914 for silent-film star Alla Nazimova, also benefits the Botanical Garden and has notes of rose, neroli, and amber.

For a less splurge-y gift, Caswell-Massey also collaborated with Yellowstone Forever, which helps to preserve the national park. (Proceeds from the set go toward plant research and conservation.) The fragrances have Yellowstone-themed names like Old Faithful and Mammoth; its Lake soap, inspired by the biodiversity around Yellowstone Lake, has notes of citrus, wildflowers, musk, and amber.

Photo: Retailer

Luxury site Olivela donates every time you shop — you can choose which charity your order helps (and learn about what your purchase is doing) from a list of the company’s featured cause partners. In addition to helping provide essential supplies to Save the Children, this Dr. Barbara Sturm serum would make for an indulgent skin-care staple — niacinamide smooths fine lines and wrinkles, according to Strategist beauty contributor Rio Viera-Newton.

J.Hannah makes some of our favorite stylish, subtly hued nail polish, including a collaboration with the Met inspired by its recent Tudors exhibition. All profits from sales of Dune, a shade that evokes “windblown sand” and “desert quietude,” according to the brand, benefit the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles, which helps women who are experiencing homelessness and those who were formerly without housing.

Clothing, jewelry, and accessories

Cariumas make writer-director Nana Mensah feel like a cool kid, with a classic plimsoll shape that almost molds to her feet, keeps its form, and is easy to clean. But what makes the shoes even more special to her is the company’s sustainable philosophy: The pair is made from natural rubber and organic cotton, and sales help with the brand’s reforestation plan, which includes planting two trees in Brazil for every pair sold.

Every item on Social Goods donates to a particular cause, and this one is no exception. Designed by Prinkshop, which teams up with different nonprofits for campaigns, the 1973 sweatshirt honors the year Roe v. Wade was decided — and $10 from every sale is donated to the National Institute for Reproductive Health, which provides funds to state and local organizations fighting for reproductive health care.

Photo: Retailer

If Mom’s bookshelf is full of works by intersectional feminist theorist bell hooks, she’ll appreciate this WWE-style fan T-shirt. It’s sold by the Black School, an experimental art school teaching radical Black history based in New Orleans.

Part of designer Lauren Beachem’s galaxy-themed collection for Uncommon Goods, this silver cuff holds rainbow-swirled miniature glass orbs meant to represent nebulae. Beachem is donating $5 from each cuff to the Trevor Project, which provides crisis-intervention services to LGBTQ+ teens.

Photo: Retailer

East Village restaurant Veselka is donating $50 per purchase of this T-shirt and baseball-cap set to Razom for Ukraine, an organization that champions democracy in the country. (If Mom is in the delivery radius, it’s also donating 100 percent of the sales from the Stand With Ukraine Bowl of six pierogi topped with bacon and kielbasa.) The restaurant is also accepting nonmonetary donations such as first-aid kits and socks, which can be dropped off at its East 9th Street entrance.

Photo: Retailer

This lightweight wool cardigan from Loeffler Randall, the maker of some very stylish shoes, comes in two colors — pink and stone gray — and benefits a good cause. Ten percent of proceeds from each sale go to the ACLU, which is currently defending civil liberties around abortion, transgender rights, and racial justice, among other issues.

Photo: Retailer

You can also support the ACLU more directly with this “End Cash Bail” baseball cap sold by the nonprofit, which references the organization’s work on marijuana reform and mass incarceration.

From $95

Jewelry label SVNR makes its wares from recycled and upcycled materials, so each of its designs is one of a kind, like this colorful necklace crafted from antique African trade beads. All of the net proceeds from it are donated to Building Black Bed-Stuy, a group that raises money for Black-owned businesses and organizations in the neighborhood.

These very cute handblown glass earrings from AAPI-owned kidcore brand Notte support a good cause — 50 percent of sales goes to Heart of Dinner, an organization that addresses food insecurity among Asian American seniors.

Pearl River Mart, a New York institution known for its one-of-kind goods, sells this dragon-adorned tote created by 4 Good Measure, an Asian-American-owned design firm. Ten percent of the proceeds will go toward different projects dedicated to helping the Chinatown community.

This mother-of-pearl token is emblazoned with a line from a letter Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote to fellow former Supreme Court justice William Brennan. For each one sold, Catbird will donate $10 to the Women’s Prison Association, an organization focused on helping women impacted by incarceration. If you wanted to zhuzh it up more, you could (for an additional cost) include one of the brand’s barely there gold chains.

Bombas describes these tricolor socks as reminiscent of Neapolitan ice cream, so they’ll be a colorful addition to any sock drawer. Like all of the brand’s socks, these help those who are homeless, in need, or at risk. For every pair sold, a pair is donated.


For the devoted NPR listener: Every purchase at its storefront goes to support programming. This mug comes in Planet Money green with a martini-holding squirrel.

Photo: retailer

This sturdy, stylish bicycle basket, handwoven in Ghana from natural materials, earned Strategist contributor Ariel Kanter lots of compliments from fellow cyclists in her biking-focused city. By purchasing via certified B-corp Goodee, you support 1% for the Planet, which redistributes one percent of the company’s sales to four environmental nonprofits with a focus on BIPOC communities.

Photo: Retailer

Flamingo Estate — known for a Roma-tomato-scented candle that’s part of a crop of garden scents that has taken over the scene — created this candle with notes of musk, green leaves, and narcissus. All proceeds go to the People Concern, a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Los Angeles.

One of the latest launches from J.Hannah — the brand behind nail polish for the color-agnostic — this wick was created in cooperation with MADE by DWC, which is part of Los Angeles’s Downtown Women’s Center, and helps houseless women (and women who were formerly without housing) earn income and learn job skills. Plus, 10 percent of proceeds will be donated to DWC. The wax, which is hand-poured by women in the center, features notes of fig, bergamot, and peppered grapefruit.

When we asked chefs for their favorite aprons, Hedley & Bennett’s were among the most raved about. This take on its best-selling Essential Apron was made in partnership with the Conservation Alliance, which fights to protect wild places and wildlife across North America. The aprons in this hand-drawn, limited-edition collection give back to the alliance, including this one inspired by Yosemite National Park’s granite-laden landscape.

Photo: Retailer

This Material cutting board — made from recycled plastic scraps — is a Strategist favorite, notably making an appearance in our guide to giving back to the AAPI community. Fifty percent of proceeds from the sale of this light sand colorway go to Heart of Dinner.

Grounds & Hounds is a coffee company supporting dog-rescue organizations — through May 15, 100 percent of the profits from its Rescue Roast blend will benefit Marley’s Mutts in California.

Made in Chinatown works with small businesses in the neighborhood to create custom merchandise, like this pillow that features a colorful illustration of the legendary institution Wing On Wo & Co.’s counter. Profits will go toward the store, which is the oldest one in Chinatown.

If they struggle to keep their pantry stocked, a subscription to Thrive Market, which carries sustainable and organic products, may do the trick. The grocery company matches every paid membership with a free one to a student, teacher, veteran, first responder, or family in need (all of whom can apply here). You can even throw in an additional shopping credit, ranging from $25 to $200.

Books and prints

For the bookworm in your life, your best bet is Bookshop, which works in two ways to give back to local bookstores: You can donate the profits from your order to a store of your choice (as if you’d bought a title IRL) or add to a collective fund that is split among independent shops. (You can even see the total raised at the top of the site.) This book by photographer Carrie Mae Weems is a prized piece in Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst’s Black coffee-table-book collection: “It tells the story of a woman’s life through moments at her kitchen table, capturing the intimacy of home along with the range of emotions and occurrences of daily life,” she writes.

If Mom is the kind of Real Housewives fan who gets tickets to BravoCon as soon as they go on sale, use Bookshop to gift her Not All Diamonds and Rosé, which resident Housewives experts Ambar Pardilla and Arielle Avila write is “as close to the official version of the Housewives historical record as you can get.”

Photo: Retailer

One of our favorite holiday gifts that give back, purchases of this Risograph print from queer-owned stationery brand Ash + Chess support the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which works to protect the rights of Black transgender people.

Photo: Retailer

If Mom’s been working through her National Park checklist, she’ll love this fill-in poster from the Parks Project, a brand that works to protect and preserve parklands through advocacy, volunteer work, and donations.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Best Gifts for Mom (That Do Good, Too)