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How Companies Build Donations Into Their Business: With Examples

By January 22, 2021March 28th, 2022No Comments
Madi Underwear Donations In Ecaudor

As CSR and purpose have taken the business world by storm, exacerbated by a global pandemic and underfunded third sector while consumers become more conscious of who they buy from, we are seeing more and more companies embedding donations into their customer journey. 

Whether it’s a buy one, donate one; financial donations; campaign specific donations; engagement reward donations; businesses are starting to lead the charge to support charities that align with their values and really need their help. These examples show that you can embed good into your business, it’s operations, it’s pricing & marketing and still be profitable to continue to achieve your purpose.

Buy One, Donate One

It would be remiss to write this article without mentioning one of the pioneer companies in ‘One For One’ business model. Originally, Toms gave one pair of shoes to those who needed them for each person who bought a pair. Over 13 years of this model’s operation, 95 million pairs of shoes have been given; protecting against infection, allowing families to use their money on education and improving self worth.

Toms Impact Report Screenshot 95 million shoes donation

Toms Impact Report states “After selling 10,000 pairs of shoes, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie recruited some friends, some family, and hopped on a plane to Argentina. There, they distributed 10,000 shoes—one for one—to kids in need wherever they could be found.”

Toms saw such great success with their innovative initiative they have now expanded their collection to eyewear partnering first with the Seva Foundation to expand the One for One® model. Through this partnership, they helped provide medical treatment, sight-saving surgery, and prescription glasses to those in need. Then they moved onto coffee & water supply. 

The original ‘proof of concept’ is staggering and makes you wonder why all businesses aren’t building this into their business model. People care, they want to buy from companies who share those values & feel like they are doing some good in the process. 

Fortunately, business leaders and entrepreneurs see this opportunity to help and this model is now being embedded into businesses across the globe. 

Madi (Make A Different Intimates) founder Hayley Besheer realised that new, clean underwear is one of the most under-donated items to charity, and domestic violence refuges and homeless shelters for women often face shortages. Embracing the buy one, donate one model, Madi is taking an approach to business that really resonates with her customers. 

Hayley said: “Consumers are attracted to the buy one, donate one model because it helps them give back,” she told the BBC. The market is leaning more and more towards brands that offer quality products with a social purpose.”

Other great examples of those businesses embracing buy one, donate one include Better World Books “Book For Book”, educational resources at Yoobi “One For Me, One For You”, medical scrubs from Figs in their “Threads For Threads” model and many more.

Monetary Donations & Charity Partnerships – % and per sale

Other businesses have taken a slightly different approach to “conscious capitalism”. For Warby Parker, who sell fashionable glasses online, making a financial donation to organisations to produce goods locally to the need is their focus. 

For every pair of glasses it sells, it makes a donation to a non-profit which will produce a pair in the country where it operates. The non-profit also trains local people in how to conduct eye exams and fit glasses. According to Warby Parker, its system makes more sense than just donating goods.

Other companies look more widely at their financial giving and commit % portions of revenue or profit to good causes. For instance, outdoor clothing company Cotopaxi has committed 2% of its annual revenue to ending poverty.

World renowned sustainable clothing company and B Corp, Patagonia, donates its “time, services, and at least 1%” of its sales to making the world a cleaner, greener place in addition to selling sustainable, affordable clothes and accessories.

Schemes to help companies do this are now rife, including 1% for the planet and on a per-sale basis platforms such as Percent support businesses in making donations when bought through the software. 

As new businesses arise out of the opportunity that a shifting world has created, many, including our friends at Mins who have launched their company supporting “one feeds two”, are building this model into their operations from day one. Understanding the importance of businesses giving back as a foundation of their culture & approach is inspiring. 

Campaign Or Product Line Donation Approach 

Many companies who have strong ethics and look to support charities choose to do campaign focussed donations or donations on proceeds from specific product lines. We talked in a recent blog about ManiLife’s Christmas Cracker Campaign supporting Campaign to End Loneliness. 

Probably the most common format for donations as it allows companies to support multiple charities at different times and stages in their business life cycle or depending on the season. 

Businesses such as Everlane have led a shift in the meaning of ‘Black Friday’, which is commonly considered a frenzy of consumerism, and chose a mixed donation model including matched donations up to $50,000, and a per sale donation of $1 per sale on the Black Friday & Saturday to Feeding America.

Everlane Donations Black Friday

Everlane also has a clothing line ‘100% Human’ that currently donates 100% of its profits to Feeding America & Coronavirus Relief. 

It is without a doubt that the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has seen additional pressure, and opportunity, for businesses to support charities

Popsockets launched products supporting Doctors Without Borders and Covid Relief as part of their ‘Poptivism’ approach. Many others, especially those who are thriving during the pandemic, have begun campaigns throughout 2020 that support charities in need and showcasing their desire to be a positive stakeholder in society.

When you don’t have to buy anything to donate

Many of the examples so far rely on customers parting with money for businesses to make donations. It makes sense, these companies need to be viable. 

But some are seeing donations as a way of rewarding engagement, time, or action rather than just sales. Something we’re excited to see at Views For Change, as it is the fundamentals of what we do. 

Gymshark recently simply posted on their social media that for every like, they will make a donation.

Gymshark Social Donations Christmas Jumpers

Perhaps more interestingly, some companies are looking to embed donations into their products themselves. Bumble, the dating app shaking up gender norms, now encourages women to send a message to a match by making a donation.

Bumble Donations To Charity In App

The women get to choose their cause between three key themes. 

This example really shows us that there is an opportunity to reward users with charitable donations at almost any stage of the customer lifecycle. It is an effective way to encourage positive behaviours, increase buy into your brand and ultimately give that feel good buzz you get when you do good.

Donations in advertising – Views For Change Approach

Views For Change was created because we saw this great trend of companies making donations to causes they cared about on behalf of their customers and users, but there were still opportunities along the customer journey that were not being rewarded with donations. 

As marketeers, we saw the advertising space was still a one way street; greedy and undervaluing audience’s time. We saw an opportunity to change our view of value in marketing and advertising, by rewarding users for their time and engagement with donations to charity. 

Advertising is often the first experience customers have of your brand, so why wait until they’ve purchased your product or are using your app to showcase and live your values. Start the relationship as you mean to go on with advertising that donates to charity.

Watch us talk about why we started Views For Change…

If you’re interested in running a Views For Change campaign. Book a call today.

Nicola Telford

CEO & Co-Founder of Views For Change.

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