As globalization brings us ever closer, consumers are demanding the products and services they use be sustainable, safe and environmentally friendly. Gone are the days when customers in North America were unaware of the unsustainable practices of coffee industry or the poor wages of clothing makers in developing countries. The increased global connectedness has created an enhanced concern and awareness for the life and plight of our fellow men and women around the world.
As a result of this, there has been a growing movement toward business philanthropy and companies that build altruism into their business models. “One area of real growth is transaction-based giving, such is the “one for one” model, in which a consumer buys a product and someone less fortunate receives the same product for free,” wrote Amy-Mae Elliot for Mashable.
Being socially responsible isn’t just about protecting the environment in your own backyard and neighborhood, social responsibility demands that businesses account for their own actions and strive to make a difference. As Elliot noted, the business model of one-for-one has seen exponential growth in the last five years, in part because it’s a model that works.
TOMS, a shoe company that gives a pair of shoes to children in developing countries for every shoe purchased in one of their retail stores, has lead the way. “They find communities that will benefit most from receiving the shoes and where local businesses won’t be negatively affected,” says Lawrence Karol, writer for Takepart.com.
The TOMS one-for-one business model has inspired eyeglass companies, under garment companies and a variety of apparel retailers to follow suit and incorporate the same buy one, give one model. Whether it appeases our consumer guilt or is solely philanthropic, lives are being changed for the better with every purchase.
Redefining a well-established business model isn’t always a viable option. For some businesses and companies, a strategic partnership with a charity, something that is also altruistic and socially responsible, may work better.
For example, Burt’s Bees, the lip balm and beauty product company, partnered with Habitat for Humanity in the past to build homes for those less fortunate. Moreover, in 2007, Burt’s Bees established the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, which is funded by a percentage of their sales. The goal of the foundation is, “to help empower non-profit initiatives whose efforts resonate with our own mission, particularly in the areas of natural health and well-being, the environment and social responsibility,” as their official website states.
Environmental awareness and social responsibility isn’t just for large business and companies. Individuals can work to make the world a better place and even start small businesses with this goal in mind.
Daniel Zopoula, an Alberta-based church leader and entrepreneur, has been able to unite his desire to help those struggling around the world with his divine passion. Daniel Zopoula heads the Bridges of Hope, which is a charitable organization that works to promote poverty relief and community empowerment in impoverished communities around the world.
“You don’t have to be a millionaire to want to help your fellow human being,”explains Zopoula. “A generous heart will always find a way to give.”
Daniel Zopoula is also the founder of Life Direction Training and Consulting. As such, he often tells his clients to give back as a way to feel connected and fulfilled. “Giving back, whether it is volunteering, or donating food to the food bank can make a person feel good about themselves and is a caring act of generosity towards your fellow man.”
In true holiday fashion, billionaire tech entrepreneur and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced plans to give away most of his fortune to ensure the world his newborn daughter grows up in is a better, more generous and happier place. That’s gesture that will be sure to further inspire business philanthropy in today’s first world countries.