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How do you pick which charities to charm?
That's the #1 question we get from friends, family, strangers, name it. It's one we love to answer too, because there's no secret formula or magic equation. Way back five years ago when we decided to start Altruette, the conversation when something like this:
Julie: "If we're going to make charms that benefit charities, we should start with two awesome groups in D.C. - Kaboom! (they make playgrounds for kids) and GlobalGiving (they let people fund grassroots projects around the globe).
Lee: "Yes! That's awesome! And we must include Girls Write Now (a mentoring organization in New York I was very involved with).
Those were our first three partnerships. Groups where we knew the founders, had volunteered or worked for the causes, understood their missions, admired their objectives.
From there things grew organically. The founder of Kaboom! suggested with talk to the African Wildlife Foundation, as he thought they were doing great work in habitat conservation. We knew we wanted to make a Watering Can  charm so we asked for recommendations for non-profits that might fit, and found the American Community Garden Association. Julie and her husband gave a couple a ride home from a wedding, and it turned out he was on the board of CARE, a massive non-profit he introduced us to. Things grew like that for the first year or so.
Then came Oprah.
We were featured in O Magazine with a full page story about our transition from journalism to jewelry. Well, it turns out a lot of folks read that piece, because after that we were deluged with requests to make charms. Some, like Tailored for Education, were a perfect fit and resulted in our Dress Charm when we launched our Girls line. Others we tucked away and hope to one day "charm" them when the time is right.
There's no science to it, in other words, but there is an art. A few groups we partnered with early on had massive operations and we were frankly too small to really help them. The partnerships that have worked best are the ones where the people who work at the non-profit really, truly love the charms. They see them as a powerful symbol of the work they do, and they use them for gifts internally and externally, and help us publicize the charms to their audience. We were stunned at one point to realize that 15% of our web traffic was coming from one partner who had listed us prominently on their site. (That charm, not coincidentally, happens to be one of our perenial bestsellers.)
We started this business because we wanted to help tell the stories of the charities that inspire us. We add several charms a year, and are always interested in what YOU care about. So if you have a suggestion for us, drop us a line at Why knows? Maybe your favorite cause could be our next big charm.
Lee & Julie