What if instead, you could inspire your friends and family to do something more meaningful for your youngsters' celebrations: to pitch in and grow their nest eggs, help them improve the world and spur them to explore the cooler sides of money.
Shares in the company that makes your kids’ favorite things is a gift that keeps giving and it’s a great way to connect kids and money throughout the year.
Scotty Serafin loves video games. He’s built the ultimate football franchise in Madden, is downright unbeatable at Fruit Ninja and this nine-year-old will take you down in a game of Minecraft. At the top of his birthday wish list is, you guessed it, video games. But his father, Scott, has another idea. “I think every parent worries that their kids are spending too much time staring at a screen,” says the Kinnelon, NJ dad. “And I was spending so much money at GameStop feeding the need for the latest xBox, Wii or [Nintendo] DS game that I thought ‘I should buy stock in this company.’ ” So he did—for Scotty. Last year, he gifted his son shares of the Grapeville, TX video game retailer, Game Stop.
For parents looking to add meaning to the gifts they give, buying stock in companies their kids adore can be a fun—maybe even profitable—solution. “I figure this is a great way to invest in my child’s future while teaching him about how the market works,” says Serafin. “We can track [the stock] the whole year and hopefully Super Mario Brothers will mean something else to him on his next birthday.” A little research into the company yielded yet another bonus. GameStop [GME] partners with the non-profit Make-A-Wish Foundation to give sick kids shopping sprees in their local stores. Investing in a company that gives back and has strong roots in the communities it serves gives Scott and his son one more reason to feel good about this year’s present.
Want to match your child’s passion with a business that balances profit margins and social responsibility? Here’s a sampling of some public companies that do well by doing good.
If your child is a foodie …
Whole Foods promotes issues involving the environment, and placed third on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the “Top 25 Green Power Partners.” WFM was the first U.S. supermarket to completely eliminate disposable plastic grocery bags. In addition, community giving is a must at all individual stores. In total, such giving exceeds 5% of net company profits each year. Each store may donate food, labor or dollars to local not-for-profit organizations. Each store also holds “5% Days” during which they donate 5% of that day’s net sales to local non-profit or educational organizations.
The company created two foundations – (1) Animal Compassion Foundation to improve the quality of life for farm animals and (2) Whole Planet Foundation to combat poverty in rural communities around the world through microlending.
If your child has built more bears than can fill a zoo …
… check out Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. [BBW], the retailer that welcomes kids to stuff and dress a fury friend.
You’ll find a list of 12 charitable causes supported by Build-A-Bear—everything from “Furbulous Donations” to “Grants for Pawsome Causes.” Our favorite is Huggable Heroes, a salute all the young people who are making the world a better place through generosity and kindness. Each year the company rewards young people who have devoted countless hours to raising funds and awareness for community causes. Each hero wins $10,000 (a $7,500 educational scholarship and $2,500 from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to be donated to charity of the Huggable Hero’s choice).
If you have Nerf darts in every nook and cranny of your house…
… consider Hasbro [HAS], the multinational toy and board game company responsible for bring squishy Nerf balls (and lots of other toys) into our homes.
Some of the honors touted on this company’s site include being named “One of America’s Top Ten Most Community-Minded Companies” by Bloomberg News. The toy maker supports kids all over the world though financial grants, product donations, employee volunteerism and an initiative called generationOne, which empowers kids to make a difference by awarding five children (between 5 and 18) $1,000 educational scholarships. The company is also big on sustainable packaging: It’s eliminating PVC (a plastic that’s not recyclable and is thought to be a health hazard); as of last year 75 percent of its packing was derived of recyclable materials and by 2015 it hopes to get that number up to 90 percent.
If your little daughter is a “girly-girl” who is all about Barbie…
…think about Mattel [MAT], the world’s largest toy company.
In 2013, Mattel was named as one of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the sixth year in a row. Mattel also is ranked among Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens.” The company’s biggest give-back program centers around “breaking down the barriers to play” via the Mattel Children’s Foundation. With volunteer efforts, product donations and corporate contributions, the company grants children access to play globally. It does this by donating Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels cars and American Girl dolls to children confined to hospital beds; supporting the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program; and through the global employee volunteer effort called Mattel PLAYers. In 2012, the company donated $1.5 million of toys globally and by 2015 it hopes to bring play opportunities to 10 million children in need.
If your child splashes the swoosh from head to sneaker…
… then Nike Inc. [NKE] is a natural.
Nike believes in the power of unleashing human potential—on the field, on the court, and in life. It’s got a slew of give-back programs to back that belief including a program to get kids more physically active, Nike Better World (which aims to do things like stomp out war through sports). It also has a massive recycling effort. But our favorite is the Nike Foundation, which takes on global poverty.
When the Nike Foundation started in 2004, it sought the best investments with the highest returns. The company traced the symptoms of poverty back to their roots, and it led to an unexpected solution: adolescent girls. When a girl in the developing world realizes her potential, she isn’t the only one who escapes poverty—she brings her family, community, and country with her. Investing in a girl stops poverty before it starts. That’s the girl effect. And the Nike Foundation has become a big backer. Read more about it at www.girleffect.org.
If your child loves animals (in the home and the wild)…
…then he or she would be proud to own a piece of PetSmart Inc. [PETM].
PetSmart Charities is on the hunt for lifelong, loving homes for every pet. Whether it’s saving the lives of homeless puppies, providing emergency relief (think: aid for animals that were victims of Super Storm Sandy), raising awareness of companion animal-welfare issues or promoting healthy relationships between pets and people, the company is dedicated to its pet-loving mission.
If your kids are big fans of Pokemon and Princesses…
… they might want to become a shareholder of the toymaker JAKKS Pacific, Inc. [JAKK].
Home to brands such as Spy Net, Disney Princess and Hello Kitty, the company has a division dedicated to philanthropic endeavors called JAKKS Cares. A combo of resources and inspired employees assist needy children, families and even pets around the world. JAKKS Cares activities also implement ways to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” to help preserve our planet.
If your teen dresses like an A+F model…
… you might want to outfit him or her with shares of Abercrombie & Fitch [ANF].
The company has hosted the The A&F Challenge for 11 years now to raise money for various organizations and charities in central Ohio and communities in which A&F operates throughout the U.S. The Challenge is open to anyone, attracts about 3,000 participants, and donates 100 percent of entry fees to charity organizations. The Challenge includes activities such as a 5K Run, 20-mile Bike tour, and the Kid’s Challenge—raising more than $9.5 million for charities.
The apparel company also supports hundreds of charitable institutions annually. Contributions to these organizations range from $100 donations to gifts in excess of $1,000,000. The beneficiaries of these donations include The American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Directions for Youth and Families and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.