How (And Why) 5 Retailers Paid It Forward This Holiday Season

The holiday season — especially the shopping — is in full swing, and with the craziness that Q4 always brings, it’s easy to lose sight of things that matter. The end of the year gives retailers the ability to give back to those who need it the most — which can turn even the coldest of hearts as warm as a cup of cocoa by a fire.

According to research by Cone and Ebiquity, 90% of consumer respondents expect companies to do more than focus on their bottom line, and 84% said they’d purchase products and services from socially responsible companies. So pay attention, because charitable giving is a win for everyone.

Thanksgiving Day weekend was action-packed and generated big sales numbers, but what really stood out were those retailers that focused on more than just offering the biggest doorbuster sale. Here are five examples of companies that are using the holiday season as an occasion to give back to those in need.



Outdoor apparel and gear retailer Patagonia was the shining star of Black Friday when the company announced it would donate 100% of in-store and online Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations. The company already supports these groups by donating 1% of sales throughout the year, totaling $74 million to date.

Patagonia generated much praise for its efforts and earned five times more sales than it expected. The company’s sales hit $10 million on Black Friday, which is all going straight to organizations fighting to protect the country’s natural resources.

“We’re humbled to report the response was beyond expectations…Patagonia reached a record-breaking $10 million in sales,” the company said in a statement. “The enormous love our customers showed to the planet on Black Friday enables us to give every penny to hundreds of grassroots environmental organizations working around the world.”


Kids’ stationery and office supply retailer waited until Giving Tuesday (Nov. 29) to give back. The company normally donates one item to a U.S. classroom in need for every item purchased, but the retailer doubled its efforts for this day by donating two items for every item purchased.

Additionally, the company took to social media to promote its Giving Tuesday efforts. Every time a Twitter user retweeted Yoobi’s designated #GivingTuesday tweets, the brand donated an item to a classroom. 


Thorlos is a family-owned company that designs and manufactures clinically tested activity-specific padded socks. The company is urging customers to participate in its Troops Donations Program this holiday season by purchasing a pair of socks at a special manufacturer’s price to donate to members of the armed services.

Thorlos sends the socks along with “handy wipes” for troops to use to clean their feet before putting the socks on.

“Our goal is to send 5,000 pairs to forward troops in active conflict zones,” said Chuck Harris, a retired Sergeant Major who heads the effort at Thorlos.


Online handbag and luggage retailer eBags has launched a Trade In, Trade Up Program that enables customers to donate their “not-so-new” bags back to the company so that they don’t end up in landfills. This holiday season, eBags is partnering with Goodwill and Give Back Box to make it easy to donate bags to charities.

“The community of wander-lovers who purchase eBags products is passionate and committed to helping others have a better journey,” said eBags CEO Mike Edwards in a statement. “We’re thrilled to launch our new Trade In, Trade Up Program, and to work with our community to provide an effortless and convenient way to share our good fortune, complement our 5% rewards program, and pay-it-forward to others.”

The program is free and customers automatically receive a 25% off coupon and a free eBags Connected Luggage Tag to thank them for their donation. Donations can be mailed directly to Goodwill for free.

“The Give Back Box platform gives eBags shoppers a convenient way to donate to Goodwill and support our mission of providing employment, skills training and services to anyone facing challenges to finding employment,” said Jim Gibbons, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International.

Coin Up

Coin Up is an application that allows users to donate the spare change from their credit or debit card purchases to a charity of choice, all year round. The company is raising awareness during the holiday season to encourage more customers to join in on the giving.

“Imagine if last year’s 151 million holiday shoppers had rounded up the change from each credit or debit card transaction,” said Leena Patidar, Co-Founder and CEO of Coin Up. “By adding up spare change from credit/debit card purchases, we can collectively make a difference for many causes that are in need this holiday season. We hope the ‘holiday giving factor’ will have a domino effect that lasts well beyond the season!”

These examples prove that retailers big and small can take part in giving back during the holiday season. Even though most may not be able to go as far as Patagonia has in terms of a 100% donation percentage, a simple social media strategy or partnerships with other companies can certainly make a difference — and burnish the brand’s reputation at the same time. 

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