Monday, March 9, 2009

Whole Foods Innovative Ideas for (not food) Philanthropy

Whole Foods is having a campaign for their Whole Planet Foundation until March 31st to raise $1,000,000.00 towards their micro credit program for poor communities around the world.

They have taken in-store fund raising to a new level. In addition to having the box on the counter for spare change, a customer can also choose $1.00 or $5.00 amounts to be added to their bill, and if they bring their own bag, the $1.00 credit can be applied towards a donation to the Whole Planet Foundation. They underwrite the administrative costs so that every amount donated goes towards helping others.

Whole Planet Foundation also collaborates with businesses, groups and individuals, like Grameen Bank and other micro finance organizations. They develop strategic partnerships and alliances with their suppliers and growers that participate in scanback programs. They contribute not only to the global community, but locally as well, by supporting their local growers with funding, contributing to local food banks, and sponsoring a "5% day" every month where they donate the proceeds to a local community charity. They encourage and enable individual employees and teams to develop in-store fundraising programs for local causes.

Whole Foods doesn't stop with one idea.The way they network, build alliances and leverage every dollar raised, is a model for the innovative thinking that businesses need to develop in order to get more value for their philanthropic dollar and effort.

Their website for Whole Planet Foundation has a lot of information and stories about their goals, their partnerships, their suppliers, their employees, and they spotlight the micro entrepreneurs that they have been helping. Check out their website for wonderful information about their projects.

I would love more information to be provided throughout the store about the projects and the partners of the Whole Planet Foundation. This isn't about just tooting their horn, but as a customer I want to become more educated about what they do. I would love to see videos on screens around the store about the projects they fund, a slide show featuring the micro entrepreneurs, printed materials about how they operate, more books for sale on micro financing in their book selection, little tags on the product displays that show which supplier and vendor participates in the scanback.

The best fundraising efforts are through education and I, for one, would love to learn more while I am walking around my local Whole Foods store.

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