Imagine if every purchase you made could help a hungry child eat or save a tree or bring clean drinking water to Africa. Now imagine if every purchase your customers made contributed to all of those causes, and reached a world — and a planet — in need on an daily hourly basis. With Buy1GIVE1, there’s no need to imagine. They have developed a program where every swipe of a credit card is an act of change. They call it transaction-based giving, and it gives businesses — and consumers — an opportunity to put their regular spending to good use. One of their key differentiators is that each transaction is linked to a tangible outcome instead of some indiscriminate percentage being arbitrarily tossed at a charity, so you know exactly where your dollars are going. And more importantly, who they’re helping. Through the collective purchasing power of thousands, Buy1GIVE1 is able to fund programs that make a significant impact, and turns the joy of buying into the joy of giving.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
A friend once told me ‘we cannot help the poor by being poor.’ So we have a unique model where 100 percent of contributions to the clients’ selected project or cause go directly to that cause, yet where B1G1 itself is ‘supported’ by our clients with Membership fees of just $1 a day, and through sponsorships. That’s the for-profit piece, which allows us to operate the B1G1 Foundation. We are a Social Enterprise and so naturally give back, too, and that would be impossible to do as a not-for-profit. We’re creating a world where EVERY business transaction gives back in a resonant and measurable way so all of our fee-based products and services also give back.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
We see that most CSR activities miss one vital ingredient; that of involving the customer in the business process. So we imagined, and have now created, a world of B1G1 transaction-based giving. And it’s so simple and automatic where buying TV helps a cataract blind person receive the gift of sight. Or by dining out, a child gets fed and educated. Or buying a cup of coffee and someone in Africa gets access to clean water as a direct result. Each purchase gives back in some way, simply by buying, and doing, things you would normally do.
So, businesses who become involved in this movement we’re creating together simply select one or more of their products or services and then decide how much of that sale (or transaction) they can afford to give. Through the B1G1 system, (some people call it a ‘perfect plumbing system’) they then select from up to 600 projects, to which they can link that sale, by automatically partnering with the Worthy Cause running that project. Those projects range from just 1 cent (to give someone access to water, for example) through to thousands of dollars so they’re easily matched to the size of the transaction.
The range of businesses and causes involved is vast – from authors who make sure that a tree is planted every time their books are sold, tattoo artists who feed and educate children every time they do a tattoo, people who market meditation programs who make sure treatments are given with each sale to kids rescued from the sex-trade in Cambodia to art dealers who give back sight with every painting sold, and just about everything in between. Through our model, every business in every possible industry can contribute to creating change.
So in B1G1, the business is able to develop a beautiful and memorable story around their giving with each transaction. In a B1G1 Business, it’s never ‘x percent of our profits go to such and such a cause'; it’s the much more effective, and resonant, ‘when you buy this, this happens.’
It’s that resonance of the story that creates a significant lift in brand affinity so that they create more customers and bind much more effectively with existing ones; something that goes way beyond traditional CSR.
And most significantly, in these new economic times, because B1G1 giving is totally transaction-based, the giving never stops – it matches the ebb and flow of the business activities.
Importantly too, it means that charities (or ‘Worthy Causes’ as we call them) get a sustainable flow of funds, and no longer have to rely on often very expensive fundraising efforts. And they know that fully 100 percent of those transaction-based funds flow directly to them. So we believe that the scenario we have created is truly a win-win for all involved.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
Well, our ‘customers’ are, of course, the B1G1 businesses themselves and the impact is already created through the simple story surrounding each transaction. We’ve added to that now by creating the B1G1 Global Village where individuals can now give directly in a similar way, For example, they can now (in what we call the ‘Residential Area’) buy a virtual house and know that that is actually buying a home for a homeless person. Even better, they can get 11 others to join them and turn it into a home for an underprivileged family for life.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
Well, there are at least two parts to that. From a pure ‘does it make commercial sense’ perspective; of course it does. Every day we see companies having truly significant lifts in business simply because they’re giving in this resonant, effective, simple, automatic, attractive-to-the-customer and customer-involving B1G1 way.
Yet there’s a much more profound reason too. It’s this: We see giving as a natural part of who we are as human beings. I heard Lynne Twist (Soul of Money author) say today that everyone in their heart of hearts wants to make a difference in their life, everyone in their heart of hearts wants to leave this planet in a better shape than they found it and everyone in the heart of hearts wants to make a difference in the world with no one and nothing left out. Lynne expresses it perfectly. And we see giving NOT through guilt but giving as a way of sharing the joy of living.Through the B1G1 model we see that happening every second, every day and in every way. It just feels good to give, and we facilitate that.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
It comes from having a purpose greater than ourselves, involving the end-user, or customer, in that process and doing that in a way that’s beautifully simple and resonant.
Name: Paul Dunn
Company: Buy1GIVE1 (B1G1)
Website: www.b1g1.com and www.b1g1village.com