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Innovative Ways to Make a Difference

Home > Melbourne > Lists | Charity | Fair Trade | Shopping
by Anna Matina (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Melbourne who enjoys food, travel, art & literature.
Published June 2nd 2014
How to have your cake & eat it while making a difference too
We all know that donating to charity is a great way to give back; however, the reality for a lot of us is that this tends to be more of a one-off contribution.

So how does one keep this charitable giving going, particularly when money can be a factor? Below, I've compiled a list of innovative and realistic ways to give back and make a difference that are linked to day-to-day activities we already perform.


Let's face it, most of us can't get enough, whether it's shopping for ourselves or others. So why not shop in a way that allows you to make a difference? There are heaps of ways this can be achieved. Here are some of my favourite examples for some guilt free shopping:

  • Brunswick pop up market: On the 7th, 8th,
    brunswick market conscious closet
    The Conscious Closet

    14th & 15th of June, The Conscious Closet is coming to Brunswick (718 Sydney Road). A range of gorgeous pre-loved and new clothing and accessories will be up for grabs starting at $2. All clothing proceeds will go to the charity Fitted for Work which helps women experiencing disadvantage get work and keep it. They are teaming up with Crafternoon Cafe who will be selling tasty treats and a host of other crafty wares. Guilt-free shopping at its best.

  • Oxfam shops: Filled with a host of wonderful hand-made, fair trade goodies from skilled people around the world, you would be hard pressed not to find something you will fall in love with here. Great for unique gift ideas or that exotic centre piece - find your nearest store here.

  • Other charity shops: Not only can you score great bargains at stores run by the Vinnies, Brotherhood of St Laurence & the Salvos (to name a few) you are also supporting amazing organisations that in turn provide much needed support in our communities.


We Melburnians are known for our coffee obsession. Wouldn't it be great if we could turn this obsession into a charitable enterprise? That's exactly what the individuals behind Kinfolk thought. Kinfolk (673 Bourke Street) is a social enterprise that not only serves delectable coffee and culinary delights, they redistribute their profits between four development projects; and best of all, you get to choose where your contribution goes.

Schebeen Social Enterprise pub melbourne
Shebeen (photo by Clever Deer)

Another great example of this is Shebeen (36 Manchester Lane) a not-for-profit bar that donates 100% of their profits to development projects overseas. Shebeen serve a myriad of drinks from the developing world and donate proceeds back to the country of origin – cool huh? All you need to do is have a drink with your mates and you get to give back and make a difference. Well, that's one way not to regret that hangover!

Organising your own party or corporate event; why not organise catering through ASRC Catering? ASRC Catering is a social enterprise established by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to employ asylum seekers who have the right and capacity to work. All surplus funds generated from the catering business go towards supporting asylum seekers across a range of services. A fusion of flavours from around the world, ASRC Catering specialises in hot and cold food, finger food, main courses and sweet finger food; Yum!


The ASRC also has a social enterprise cleaning business:
ASRC Cleaning Asylum Seeker Refugee Social Enterprise
ASRC Cleaning
ASRC Cleaning. Hiring a cleaner from ASRC Cleaning will not only leave your house sparkling clean without you needing to lift a finger, it will also provide much needed employment to asylum seekers who are ineligible for government welfare or who have otherwise been unable to secure employment. You can find out more about the social enterprise and make a booking here.


What easier way to give back than through your weekly shopping? thankyou is a social enterprise that sells products ranging from bottled water to body care (hand wash, lotion and sanitisers) to food (cereals and muesli bars) with the profits from sales going directly to funding water, food and hygiene projects in the developing world. With their products available in Coles & Woolworths, what could be more convenient than that?

thankyou hand wash social enterprise
thankyou's beautiful Botanical Sweet Orange & Almond hand wash

Another option for your organic fresh food and grocery needs is Ceres a not for profit educational organisation located on 4 hectares of rehabilitated landfill in East Brunswick. Their market sells locally produced, affordable organic fruit and vegetables, along with organic sourdough breads and pastries and you can find a wide variety of organic, biodynamic and fair-trade groceries, sourced as locally as possible from their store. If you need a break from all that shopping, there is also the Ceres café on site serving fair-trade coffee and tea along with yummy organic muffins.


Need to buy a gift but struggling with what to get someone who has everything? Here are some great ideas that provide unique gifts and make a difference to those who need it most:
  • Kiva Cards: Kiva Cards are offered through Kiva, a not-for-profit microfinance organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Kiva cards give recipients the opportunity to choose borrowers from around the world to support. When their loans are repaid, they can use those funds again and again to make even more loans through Kiva's website. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Charity Gifts: this is an online portal that connects users with a range of gift options from a number of charitable partners. Here you can buy anything from a school uniform to a goat or even an entire farm that will go to those all around the world who really need help.

charity gifts
Screenshot from the Charity Gifts website

What are your ideas for innovative ways to make a difference?
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