5 On Your Side

Shopping for Charity Works, but Results Vary

Posted May 17, 2007 8:02 p.m. EDT

— You can buy something you want and donate to a charity at the same time, but how much goes to your cause varies.

Companies that want to appear to be in it for more than just profit can reap a real benefit by donating part of their proceeds to charity. Research shows shoppers are more apt to buy something that's associated with a charitable cause.

How much goes to the charitable cause varies.

Take Starbuck's Ethos water. For each bottle, a nickel goes to help bring clean water to developing countries. It's already raised millions of dollars. The amount of money doing good with sales of “do-good” products can vary significantly, however.

For instance, buy a KitchenAid Pink Mixer for nearly $350, and $50 of it goes to breast cancer research. That's 14 percent.

A Patagonia Ocean T-shirt sells for $25. Of that $5 goes to protect marine wildlife, or 20 percent.

The Body Shop's Daisy Soap costs $4 dollars, and $3 goes toward preventing domestic violence.

And with the $14 MAC Viva Glam Lipstick, all of the purchase price goes to treat AIDS patients.

Of course the best way to get money to your favorite charity is to give directly, which can benefit you, too.

“If you really want to support a cause, the best thing you can do is write a check, said Consumer reports’ Lisa Lee Freeman. “You'll feel good about it, and you'll get a tax break."

When you donate directly to a charity, Consumer Reports recommends you find one that puts at least 60 percent of your donation toward the cause.