Shop for a Cause Like an Expert

In the wake of last week's disaster in Japan, shopping for a cause seems more timely than ever. Yet, in the rush to help, it's often easy to overlook simple things like...where your money is actually going and how much of it will make it to the mouths, feet, and hands of those you're aiming to aid. So with that in mind, here a few tips for shopping for a cause along with a list of a few local retailers where your dollars will go to good use.

Do your homework: You can go to to research charities and relief organizations and verify that they meet the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. In the case of a "fair trade" organization, they should meet ethical standards for inclusion in the "Fair Trade Federation."

Be weary of the middleman: Many companies raise money to "pass" along to organizations. If this is the case, ask about percentage, as well as distribution and allocation plans.

Transparency: Even if you're simply buying a pair of shoes, a comapny should be able to provide a mission statement and proof of how your purchase will be used. Check websites for annual reports.

Know For-Profit vs. Non-Profit: A for profit entity acts as a positive corporate citizen in the communities in which it operates. Often for a profit org like Savers Thrift will align with non-profits, and gives a share of the proceeds back to the community.

List: Where to Shop for a Cause, Local Boutiques That Give Back

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