While the classic monthly direct-debit model still provides the biggest chunk of crucial revenue for most charitable organisations, subscriptions and memberships that put a little reward through the postbox can be a good incentive to stay engaged with the issues – a pay-and-stay-tuned mentality, as it were. Gartner, the global research and advisory business, has found that 75 per cent of all companies that sell directly to consumers will offer a subscription service of some kind by 2023 – which means more avenues to give to affiliated charities. Here are some of the call-to-action apps, platforms and online shops that promote the impetus for giving.

Plants for the lonely

© Ben Wiseman

Isolation and loneliness have become an urgent issue during the pandemic. Bloombox Club, an indoor plant subscription service, is billed as “plant-care and self-care” in a box, and was founded by psychologist Dr Katie Cooper, who uses plants in her therapeutic practice, having noticed the benefits of growing and connecting with nature among her lonely patients. An annual subscription of £440 buys 12 boxes of large- and medium-sized plants, each one themed to a particular therapeutic benefit, along with a unique plant of the month in a ceramic pot or basket, a digital gift card, and a wealth of educational materials on ways that plant care can support your own health and wellbeing. Ten per cent of this month’s profits will go to affiliated charities. bloomboxclub.com 

A course for emotional health
Fifteen per cent of mental health disorders arise as a result of unresolved grief, explains Julia Samuel, the renowned psychotherapist, author and founder of Grief Works. And with the pandemic changing so many of the rituals around grieving – be it in the wake of illness, miscarriage, divorce or even a child leaving home – the cracks of vulnerability are cranking open. In partnership with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Cruse, the bereavement support charity, this subscription is a culmination of Samuel’s experience over 30 years. It consists of an interactive app and counselling course presented by Samuels with tools to support people 24 hours a day, providing them with what she calls “a path to healing”. It means anyone can give the gift of emotional support when they’re at a loss as to how to help someone. From £49.99 for three months to £199 for lifetime access, paid subscriptions also enable Grief Works to fund free, no-questions-asked access for those who can’t afford it. griefworkscourse.com 

Coffee for women’s empowerment

© Ben Wiseman

Girls Who Grind Coffee is an English, all-female roastery striving to create its own revolution under the tagline “Babes brew it better”. They buy all their coffee exclusively from female producers from El Salvador to Brazil, Costa Rica to the DRC, building relationships that empower women’s roles within their own communities. Ten per cent of retail sales go back directly to the pockets of those women. “Not the importers’, not their husbands’ – theirs,” says co-founder Fi O’Brien, a former brand strategist who set up her own café in Melbourne and is now charged with creatively championing GWGC’s producers. “It’s about showing women that the work that they do is not only seen and appreciated but will also be compensated for.” The six-month Femme Fix subscription, £312, makes a lovely gift: a 250g box of single-origin coffee (choose from whole bean, French press, paper filter or espresso) delivered every week. girlswhogrindcoffee.com

A vehicle for carbon offsetting
Ecologi is a breath of fresh air: a smart, engaging and somewhat addictive platform for action against climate change, with tools to make a personal and collective impact all in one place. It enables users to track all aspects of their “carbon lifestyle” and offers an inspiring, click-and-go menu of options for funding offsetting and global reforestation, humanitarian and biodiversity projects. Gift options range from €14.80 for a mini woodland to €14,800 to plant 100,000 trees, a forest big enough to be seen from space. The 12-month gift subscription of €67.20 offsets an average annual footprint by planting 144 trees in Madagascar, Mozambique and Nicaragua, and supports verified climate projects aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Crucially, they’ll see the visible growth in their “virtual forest” and receive in-depth, transparent reports on global projects, so the impact is made real. ecologi.com

Fiction for diversity

© Ben Wiseman

Books by writers of colour climbed far higher in the bestseller lists during the Black Lives Matter protests. But with racial pay disparities and unconscious bias against minority groups still major issues in publishing, some retailers are doing their part to keep the momentum going. Recognising that “being able to educate ourselves about racism rather than experiencing it is a privilege”, Mainstreet Trading Company in the Scottish Borders set a goal to amplify diverse voices and support inclusive publishing. The Diverse Voices subscription invites readers to join them. Over six months, they’ll send three fiction and three non-fiction books that “moved, enlightened or challenged” them, and 10 per cent of each £85 purchase will be donated to Intercultural Youth Scotland, which provides specialist support for intercultural young people who face barriers to success. mainstreetbooks.co.uk 

An app to feed the hungry
ShareTheMeal: Charity Donate is a clever, conscience-tapping app from the UN’s World Food Programme that makes giving meals to those in need incredibly easy. Reach conflict-affected communities in Afghanistan, drought-affected families in Madagascar, schoolchildren in Nicaragua, refugees in Jordan, families in Syria and children around the world by buying bundles of meals for a set amount (you choose on a sliding scale), or join up as a subscriber (£15 to £100 a month), which matches you to families in the world’s most vulnerable regions. It’s almost impossible to ignore the appeal of the message “Your meals are on the way”: the whole process is intuitive and immediate. sharethemeal.org

Exercise for altruism 

© Ben Wiseman

Another doing-good platform gaining momentum is US-based app Charity Miles, a smart walking, running and biking tracker that syncs with the GPS on your phone or Fitbit and converts miles to money. Subscription takes the form of regular donations that you earn as you move via a sponsorship pledge page: there’s an option to enlist friends and employers but users will also receive donations from the app’s corporate sponsors. Some people will raise dollars for their chosen charities via Ironman challenges, marathons and 10kms, but the beauty of this is that it isn’t just about racing – it can be about small steps (even dance steps) too. charitymiles.org

A channel for change
It could strictly be described as passive philanthropy, which implies a laissez-faire approach – but signing up to Kynder is anything but. This new app, which works with Moneyhub for high-level banking security, is more a no-fuss solution to making regular contributions that correlate with your monthly lifestyle, and in doing so becoming part of a giving community on the app, at work – there’s a corporate option – or among friends. Nominate your charities and pick a percentage of your spend that should be automatically donated, then the app will direct it from your account to your causes. It makes the things you already consume – cabs, coffees, the lot – count towards the greater good (although it won’t donate from payments linked to mortgages, bank charges or utility bills), and the immediacy of the updates spurs commitment. Change charities or amend your donation level with a click, and payments can be paused or stopped any time. Kynder reinvests in projects around the world and there’s an admin fee of up to eight per cent to keep the wheels turning. kynder.io

Candles that light the way

© Ben Wiseman

Good Candles sprang to life when comms whizz Olly Rzysko, who has helped to grow brands such as the natural-beauty purveyors Haeckels, had six months at home to funnel his “unhealthy obsession” into doing something to make his young family proud. With packaging that’s intentionally unserious – to provoke a reaction and get people talking about the “why” – his small-batch, soy-wax fragranced candles (£35) are each themed around a cause close to his heart, with an endearing “scent brief” and accompanying playlist. Ten per cent of sales go to a relevant charity. The Four Seasons subscription (£100) sends a candle every 90 days, with a fragrance concept that suits the season at hand. “Reading Books” donates to the National Literacy Trust, “Bath Time” to The Hygiene Bank, “Fred’s Garden” to CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably), and “School Dinners” gives to The Trussell Trust. good-candles.com

A kids’ club for social justice
This year, Amnesty has launched a new gifting site with ideas for everyone from the epicurean to the activist. It is also offering a new subscription called Reading Rebels, which signs children up to receive a regular delivery of creative activities, stories, stickers and bookmarks, to encourage them to think about building a better world. The books and play materials with ideas for dressing-up, drawing, writing and acting touch on everything from disability to gender equality to the plight of refugees, and aim to translate positive messages into kindness, empathy and confidence. £12 a month for a year’s subscription goes towards the charitable trust’s work supporting human rights. amnesty.org.uk

Socks for the homeless

© Ben Wiseman

Socks are the most needed but under-donated items at homeless shelters, says Ed Vickers, who volunteered in a shelter while at university and used his student loan to kickstart the social enterprise that became Jollie’s, a company of “wearers and sharers”, in 2012. For every organic-cotton pair bought from Jollie’s – choose from more than 20 unisex styles – they donate a pair to one of over 50 UK shelters. There’s information about each shelter and details of how to make extra donations on the site. Subscribe for one or two pairs per month (£10 or £19) with the option to include a gift note, and if you recycle them (send them back in a pre-paid envelope) they’ll send you a pair free with your next order. jolliesocks.com

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article