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Gifts That Give: What This Post50 Mom Really Wants

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Mother's Day is big business. More than $18 billion will be spent in 2012, according to industry forecasts, which amounts to an average of $152.52 per mom. Every mother I know loves the special recognition, including me. I appreciate that my husband and daughters let me sleep in a little longer, bring coffee and newspapers to my bed when I finally decide to open my eyes, walk the dog, prepare a luxurious breakfast and clean up afterwards. All of this is usually accompanied by some lovely flowers, hand-made cards, and special "whatever you want to do, Mom" plans. What's not to like?

It's a sweet ritual, and one that is repeated in households throughout the country on Mother's Day, as it has every year since 1908. While I feel grateful for the flowers, cards, and mini-vacations from household chores -- albeit short-lived -- that this occasion offers, what would really make me happy is knowing that part of the money being doled out is going to more than the retailers.

That was the frame of mind I was in when someone introduced me to a brilliant and easy-to-surf website that offers thousands of products in many different categories (including jewelry, clothing, accessories, housewares) and a way to help others.

Combining online shopping with social good, Gifts that Give lets shoppers purchase upscale products at regular retail prices and donates $1 out of every $5 they spend to any cause of their choice.

Gifts that Give was started by retail veteran Nancy Taylor, a former VP at Neiman Marcus, who brings deep retail expertise and relationships with upscale name brands such as Jay Strongwater, Anna Weatherley, Kim Seybert, Vietri, Agraria, Lafco NY, Toss Designs, Jonathan Adler, Lilly Pulitzer, Jellycat, Trumpette, to name a few. I recently met with Nancy and she talked about why she started the site:

By making charitable giving part of something people do every day -- like shopping -- we can help causes bolster their fundraising and provide a new channel for raising money. People want to give back. We put it in the hands of the shopper -- shop for the products you love, choose the cause you love, and we'll send the donation as a cut of our revenue.

Nancy, who loves to shop and is a top-notch fundraiser for a multitude of worthy causes, thinks this kind of streamlined approach to shopping and giving makes life easier. "I knew there were many people out there -- like me -- who wanted to shop and have the satisfaction of knowing that for every item they bought, a donation would be made to a cause that was near and dear to their hearts. Pairing buying with giving is a beautiful thing."

Shoppers can even create their own "online store" where they set up shop through the site, and encourage their friends and family to buy things from their "store." This is especially useful when trying to raise funds for a particular organization.

Gives that Give gives you access to over 1.2 million GuideStar-approved non-profit organizations, but don't worry: if you can't decide, Gifts that Give will choose for you. This is an effective way to get the gift you really want (for yourself or others) . . . and support the cause that's most important to you.

Gifts that Give was recently featured on More.com, which highlighted some of Nancy Taylor's favorite picks for Mother's Day. Check out this slide show: http://www.more.com/mothers-day-gift-guide.

Here's a quick overview of how it all works:

I'm hoping that a certain handbag I spotted on the site will be presented to me this Sunday, along with the coffee. To move this fantasy along, I just emailed the Gifts that Give website -- with a particular item bookmarked -- to my husband and daughters. It's the perfect shade of turquoise, and just the right size.

Let's hope they get the hint.

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Barbara Hannah Grufferman is the President of Best of Everything Media, Inc., author of "The Best of Everything After 50", a guide to positive aging, and is at work on her second book, "Fifty Rules: What Every Woman Needs to Know Before 50", which will be published in Fall 2012. Visit www.bestofeverythingafter50.com for more tips on living your best life after 50. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.