Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on B1G1.com.
By Tracy Oppenheimer
One-for-one giving programs through companies like Toms and Warby Parker have instant appeal beyond the quality of and demand for their products. These habitual contributions of shoes and eyeglasses for those in need, respectively, are a clear signal to customers that these companies value making a difference in society. And they are doing just that — by taking action on these values and supporting impoverished communities.
These one-for-one programs are great for the world (and great for external marketing purposes), but their greatness reaches far beyond this overt impact. Dig a little deeper, and we find more and more reasons to incorporate this kind of giving into business. Here’s what we at Buy1GIVE1, a global initiative that gives companies the tools to enact effective giving programs, think are the top five:
1. Impact is not limited to linear
If you take a closer look at Toms’ giving programs, you’ll discover that the company has expanded the focus on shoes to include eyewear and coffee. Building on that idea, we’re now seeing businesses around the world doing so much more. We’re seeing accountants giving a day’s worth of education for every new client they gain. Health coaches can give a medical procedure for every session they host. It’s still a one-for-one message, but it’s not just a small group of nonprofits or enterprises affiliated with specific products that benefit. You begin to see that this message and associated giving knows no bounds, and that it can benefit the maximum number of valuable causes with maximum efficacy.
2. Less barrier to entry
Businesses are often reluctant to start corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs because they just don’t have the resources to support such an endeavor. Alternatively, one-for-one programs don’t have to be a huge financial commitment, and they open up the door to small- to medium-sized, and even startup, companies. It can be as little as one cent per every business transaction. And with infrastructure already in place like Buy1GIVE1’s online system, it’s easy to give with a minimal time requirement. Over time, regular micro-impacts add up and your business can have something to show for it.
3. Increased customer loyalty
Sure, customers might initially be drawn to your business or product because they think giving back is great. But your unique giving story also keeps them connected and coming back for more. Once they experience what it’s like to be a part of something that has a tangible impact — like going to get their teeth cleaned or taxes prepared, and knowing that a family in India is getting a goat that will provide sustainable income — it’s a feeling that will keep them coming back for more. Even if the actual business service isn’t the most enjoyable.
4. Same goes for employees
What better way to connect with your employees and create positive company culture than by inviting them to be a part of something inspiring, and adding an extra dimension to their work satisfaction? Businesses can provide their colleagues and employees with the tools to give and pick the company projects that resonate most with them. One Australian health group invites its team members to pick a monthly cause during each of their birth months. Programs like this make work more rewarding for everyone involved.
5. Enhancing what you’re doing well and even when you’re not
On good days, you have more one-for-one contributions and this trickles down to making a more meaningful impact in the world. But even on mediocre or bad days, you can take comfort in the fact that despite less than stellar cash flow or ROI, someone, somewhere is able to eat/sleep/learn/live because of you and your business.
Image credit: Buy1GIVE1
Tracy Oppenheimer is the content director for Buy1GIVE1, a global initiative that gives companies the tools to embed effective giving programs into their everyday business activities. Formerly of ABC News and Reason Magazine, Tracy is now focusing her storytelling abilities on showcasing the amazing things that Buy1GIVE1 and its partners are doing. Learn how to become a Buy1GIVE1 Business for Good and start creating your own ‘giving stories’ today.