Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Help Others by Helping Yourself

This past Thanksgiving weekend, my interest was piqued as I mulled over some long-standing holiday traditions and common consumer behaviors.
Thanksgiving weekend in American culture is about extreme polarities. On one hand, it's a time to count your blessings, to help others, and to be thankful for what you have. Then, the very next day (or the same day for many retailers this year) is comprised of pushing and shoving to find the best deals on toys, electronics, jewelry, and much more. I find this behavior perplexing and wonder if anyone else has thought about the holiday in the same way.
This leads me to reason that there might be a better way of combining the concepts of helping yourself while helping others. According to an Echo Global CSR Study, 91% of global consumers are likely to switch to brands associated with a good cause, given options with comparable price and quality. And according to a Nielsen study, 50% of global consumers say they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services. It seems that companies that support causes stand to win the wallets of consumers, in turn increasing their sphere of influence for their respective causes.

Personally speaking, when I buy products from companies where a portion of the proceeds support a good cause, it allows me to feel good about spending more than I originally would have. It diminishes any buyer’s remorse and helps me (a notorious sale-shopper and saver) feel good about making a purchase.
Today, there are many companies supporting great causes. Check out the list below from Mashable on “Inspiring Buy One, Give One Projects”, and consider helping others by helping yourself this holiday season.

1.     TOMS Shoes

For every pair of shoes or sunglasses bought from TOMS Shoes, they give a pair of shoes, prescription glasses, sight-saving surgery or medical treatment to children in need. Through the “one for one” program, they have given 10 million pairs of new shoes to children in over 60 countries and have helped restore sight in over 13 countries.

2.     BoGoLight

The BoGoLight project distributes rugged solar lights to communities in need all over the world, giving a clean, safe, renewable light source to families that would ordinarily rely on kerosene and candles.

You can buy one of the flashlights and another will be donated on your behalf to someone in need. You can choose where your donated light goes from a variety of charities and causes, including projects promoting literacy, schools, women's empowerment and safety, emergency relief, and more.

The One World Futbol is an ultra-durable, all-terrain soccer ball that will never go flat, even if it gets punctured. If you buy one ball, the project will give a ball to a community in need in a refugee camp, war zone, or poverty-stricken community.

The idea for the ball was thought up by Tim Jahnigen, an inventor and music producer, after he saw footage of Darfur refugees playing soccer with a homemade "ball." The development was funded by Sting.

Balls have so far been distributed in Rwanda, South Africa and Iraq while the Sager Family Foundation purchased 10,000 balls to be sent to Haiti.

4.     Baby Teresa

Named after Mother Teresa, the Baby Teresa project is run by Sammie Appleyard and Kirsty Dunphey, both Tasmanian entrepreneurs who are helping to clothe babies in need all over the world.

Baby Teresa sells onesies on a buy one donate one basis, the project will ensure the second one gets to a baby in need.

Donations have so far gone out to Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Australia, Tasmania, the Philippines and Jordan. The founders' hope to clothe a baby in every country in the world.

5.     Blanket America

Blanket America sells blankets, comforters, sheets, pillows and throws. It's no ordinary retailer though; the project wants to encourage consumers to demand more and to help their neighbors in meaningful ways whenever they shop.

For every product sold, the same or similar product is donated to individuals and organizations in need. As the name might suggest, the giving is primarily domestic, helping to bring comfort to those in poverty in the U.S. The project has also, however, carried out blanket distributions in Haiti.

6.     Warby Parker

Warby Parker's "buy a pair, give a pair" philosophy aims to help some of the 500 million people in the world that don't have access to proper vision care.

For every pair of $95 prescription glasses a consumer buys online, the company gives a pair to someone in need, giving that individual the opportunity to read, to work and live a fuller life.

Along with charity partner RestoringVision.org, Warby Parker's "give a pair" glasses have so far been distributed across 24 countries in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and the U.S.

7.     Happy Blankie

The family-run Happy Blankie project, the brainchild of then-7 year-old David Holdridge, offers animal-themed baby blankets on a "one to love, one to give" basis, whereby you get a blanket and one goes to a child in need in a hospital or orphanage.

After purchase, you can choose where you'd like the other blanket to go. Destinations can be as far afield as Uganda or Thailand, or closer to home in an American city.

8.     Whitten Grey

The "Little Grey Dress" project from Whitten Grey gives away a dress for every garment purchased with the aim of letting little girls experience the joy of giving.

With a Whitten Grey purchase you'll receive a code which you can enter on the site, decide which color dress you'd like to send, which country it should go to and even write a note to the girl that gets the dress.

9.     One Million Lights

The One Million Lights project distributes solar LED lights to replace kerosene lamps in areas around the world where there is no electricity. The lights help children study, help adults generate more income, and improve health and the environment.

You can simply donate a light, but there's also a buy one donate one option where you can purchase one of the durable lights for yourself and one will be given to a child or family in need.

The project is geographically far-reaching and has distributed lights in Haiti, Peru, Nicaragua, India, Ethiopia, and Kenya, among other countries.

10.  FIGS

FIGS ("innovative ties and bow ties for the modern man") runs on a "threads for threads" basis, under a school uniform donated to a child for every tie purchased.

In many parts of Africa, children cannot go to school if they don't have a proper uniform, so by buying a FIGS tie, you can give a child a chance to get an education. The uniforms are distributed in Eastern Africa, across over 100 schools within Kenya and Tanzania.

11.  Roma Boots

Roma's mission is to keep feet warm and dry by providing a comfortable, durable and practical pair of Roma Boots to every poor child living in cold and wet climates.

The company's "one for one" concept sends a pair of rubber boots to a child living in poverty for every pair bought. The goal is to reach 5,000 street children and orphans this winter and 100,000 children by 2012; initial efforts target Eastern Europe.

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