Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Altruism Pays Off By Attracting More Customers

A recent article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram News, cited several businesses in the Dallas Forth Worth area that were offering free services or discounts to unemployed customers.

Sool Song of Custom Cleaners in Keller,TX ran an ad in the local newspaper offering free dry cleaning to anyone who had lost a job in this economy. Song was quoted in the article:

"Right now it is a very, very bad economy and some of my customers don’t have a way to make money," Song said. "Sometimes, they need to go to an interview or go to church and they need to dress up. I have to take care of them."

A local restaurant, Potager, in Arlington TX, has a “pay what you think the meal is worth” pricing policy. The restaurant owner hopes that these customers will not take advantage of this policy knowing that they contribute to the restaurant’s future. But Cynthia Chippendale, Potager’s owner believes in serving locally grown and seasonally available food on her menu, a concept that is sweeping the sustainable food trend in this country.

Even local auto dealers like Liberty Ford in Cleburne Texas, are offering to cover customers payments for up to a year, if they have lost a job.

Although his interventions were purely altruistic, Song discovered that his altruism paid off by attracting more customers.

Experts like, David Strutton, a professor of marketing at the University of North Texas, agree that altruism is good public relations by building relationships with their customers that have positive effects on the growth of the business.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weight Loss With a Mission

With 48,900 businesses in the U.S. in the category of fitness, gym, and health clubs in the U.S, there is enormous potential for using the members to raise funds for charity while getting more fit.
One opportunity is a "weigh off" with the help of an organization, Weigh to Give, that sets up the whole program. This works much like a marathon, where participants are sponsored for the pounds lost. The money raised can be donated to any of the charities that Weigh To Give, gives to, or the business can recommend a charity they would like to donate to.

Up until now charities have been using weigh offs for their fundraising, but this is a great way for small businesses in the health field and fitness industry to give to charity in a way that aligns with their business purpose.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Will a Giant Mob With a Carrot Support Your Business?

Can a trend started by environmental activists translate into business philanthropy?

Carrotmob is a consumer activist organization that sponsors reverse boycotts of chosen businesses in the community. The idea started in San Francisco and Brooklyn, Philadelphia and cities around the world have taken on the idea. The way it works is that stores participate in a competition to see who can contribute the most to doing good for the world. The winning bidder promises to use a percent of the profits from the Carrotmob event towards become more green. Carrotmob organizes a shopping day where the “mobs” come out to support the store. The philosophy behind Carrotmob is stated below in their section for those activists who would like to get involved.

“Carrotmob was created by an activist who was frustrated by the ineffectiveness of traditional methods of activism: protests, rallies, boycotts, emails to congress people, letters to editors, and most of all, silly chants. Unlike those other methods, Carrotmob has measurable results built in. If businesses aren’t willing to make significant improvements, there will be no campaign. But once businesses decide that winning a Carrotmob campaign will bring enough value to them that they’re willing to make some big changes, they will actually become our partners.”

For me Carrotmob’s message goes beyond the hoopla the events create. The message is that consumers are using their buying power to influence business behavior. Consumers can and will in increasing numbers support businesses that care about the environment.

Already businesses hope to bring in “mobs” by hosting charity events. Could it work in reverse? In either case, Carrotmob’s idea points to the power of consumer to affect business behavior in a positive way.

Check out their website for more info about Carrotmob, how to organize an event or to learn a little more about the impact that consumer activism can have.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Small Business Makes Pay It Forward Go Further

Small business owners may hesitate to give back to their communities because they feel their small amounts will not go very far.

But, the owner of a small business in Spokane Valley, WA, Call Realty, presented each of the employees with a 250.00 bonus at a weekly staff meeting. The stipulation of the bonus was that the employees were not to spend it on themselves; they needed to give it back to the community in any way they chose.

The employees took up the challenge of deciding who to give the money to and of finding creative ways where the money would go farther. Two of the employees pooled their money to host a charity benefit volleyball tournament, with the hopes of raising $1,000.00. Another employee is hoping to find local groceries to match the donations in gift cards for needy families. After assessing where the money would be of most benefit, another employee donated the $250.00 to the local Second Harvest Food Bank. She discovered that for every $100.00 received, Second Harvest could purchase $1,000.00 of food.

When you unleash people’s interest in helping out, their capabilities in researching best options, and the inspiration to create ways to multiply your giving, small amounts can add up to a lot more.

That doesn’t take into account the inspiration to others when watching the story on the local news station, or reading about it here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Local Small Businesses Can Give Back to Local Schools

Rick Hart of Hayward, CA, was working for a paper company and brought a truckload of paper to his son’s fourth grade classroom. The teacher burst into tears when she saw the stacks of paper. Up until then he knew that the school needed supplies every now and then when they would send “please help” messages home with the kids. But he didn’t realize how desperate they were until that day. That inspired him to come up with a way where the community can support the schools by supporting local businesses which then give back to the schools, creating a win-win-win for everyone.

He conceived a pilot program in Hayward CA, Business4HaywardSchools. The project has been such a success for the Hayward businesses and community that Rick and his son, Patrick have turned this idea into a start-up venture, Business4Schools that could service any community.

The way Business4Schools works is that a group of local businessmen join the cooperative program with startup and monthly membership fees. Business4Schools sets up and executes a marketing and promotion package which includes a support website for the program, complete with online profile for each participating business, brochure templates, in-store placards, stickers, customer thank you cards. Business4schools markets directly to the parents and the community. When a customer comes to the business through the program, the business sends a pre-determined percentage of the proceeds to the school fund which is applied specifically towards buying supplies. All donations are tracked on the website.

The simplicity of the idea and the benefits to the community and the businesses has caught on. Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay Area is looking into bringing this idea to their community through their Chamber of Commerce, Shop Local Program.

Business4Schools logo says: "Improving Business, Improving Education"

It’s simple, easy and it works!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Never Too Busy To Give-Small Restaurant Owner in Austin

Giving City, The Guide to Doing Good in Austin, wrote a story: “So why would a local restaurant donate to a local non-profit anyway? "

They included a You Tube video interview of the owner from the restaurant Rio Grande in downtown Austin. Pat MacGahran, hosted Philanthropy Week on May 4-8 at his restaurant. Every night 10 percent of the proceeds were donated to a specific charity.

I thought it was cool to let this man speak for himself about why as a business owner he gives back to the community.

Here is a partial transcript of the interview, but you can watch it for yourself on You Tube :

Or on:

Pat Macgahran: “I think probably any business that is part of a community should be active, it should be involved in all aspects of community so really it’s just an element of social responsibility.
I am never too busy to give. We are trying to create in our business, to say: ‘We’re busy, but never too busy to say ‘what does the community need?’.”

Rio Grande is a chain, with restaurants in Colorado and Texas, but this effort was a local one. Some businesses just give because they feel it’s the right thing to do!

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Gifts for Mom That Do Good

Every day since my last post I have discovered new businesses that sell great products and donate their profits to philanthropy or support a cause. My husband says that I have found the perfect career, blending shopping, entrepreneurism and philanthropy. I couldn't believe that I couldn't find a source for flowers that donated to charity, but I finally did. Please pass on any other ideas!

Here a few things that I came across on a great blog by Olivia Kuhn-Lloyd:
Thank you Olivia!

Flowers for Good: "Flowers for Good Celebrate a cause that's close to your heart. Choose from any one of our charitable bouquets and 5% of your purchase will go toward making the world a better place."

WATERBOTTLES, MUGS- everyone needs one!
We Drink: Half of the profits go to charity. Aluminum sports bottles, Steel water bottles, and mugs

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mother's Day Gifts That Do Good for the World

This Mother's Day you can give your mother a gift that will also support worthy causes. Everything from organic, sustainably grown food, to handcrafted jewelry and clothing can be found in stores and online retailers. You can also shop for a huge variety of gifts through online programs that give a percentage of the proceeds to charity. Here is a list of resources that I recommend, where you can shop for gifts for Mother's Day and you can make your mom and moms around the world happy.

Cooking Things Up! A Webstore on Great items for cooking. Donates 100% to childood hunger through GlobalGiving.

Pura Vida Coffee
Their slogan is “Do Good”. Their mission is to "sell coffee to create good". Their coffee can also be purchased online. They sell organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee to 325 college campuses, and thousands of churches and scout troops sell the coffee as fundraisers. Pura Vida uses its funds to provide education to the farmers, clean water and latrines to the communities, helps bus children to school and supports a variety of other projects. They have Mother's Day gift baskets with coffee and chocolate!

Greystone Bakery
Do-Goodie’s sinfully rich, chocolate brownies, support community develpment programs.You can also buy a Greystone Bakery Cookbook where you can find their recipe for yummy brownies.

Whole Foods supports the administrative costs of their foundation, Whole Planet Foundation. Check out their website for information and stories about their goals, their partnerships, their suppliers, their employees, and they spotlight the micro entrepreneurs that they have been helping.

Every cent of their profit goes Newman’s Own Foundation which supports worthy causes. Paul Newman started the trend of food companies as social enterprises.

E-bay’s, a site where your shopping shapes the world. offers a new and easy way to show the positive impact your purchase has on people and the planet. It allows you to shop by your values for products ranging from food & clothing to art & house wares.

Global Girlfriend specializes in fairly traded apparel and accessories hand made by women in communities in need. Help women globally by purchasing products that not only fit your unique style, but really make a difference.

From Kenneth Cole: "After 25 years of addressing meaningful (and some not so important) social issues, we wanted to commemorate the occasion by focusing the charitable endeavors of our company under one empowering initiative. It seemed only fitting to call it, AWEARNESS –KENNETH COLE."
You can buy t-shirts, bags and don't miss the AWEARNESS book - 86 essays and conversations by individuals who have been inspired to do their part to effect meaningful social change.

NORTHFACE SPECIAL, HURRY! Proceeds to GlobalGiving! Choose the clothes you want, choose the cause you want those clothes support.

Bead for Life eradicates extreme poverty by creating bridges of understanding between impoverished Africans and concerned world citizens. Ugandan women turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful bead jewelry. All net profits from BeadforLife are invested in community development projects that help people work their way out of poverty.

TOMS Shoes, is a shoe company that manufactures lightweight, slip on, colorful and fun looking shoes that can be bought online and some retail outlets. TOMS uses the “one-for-one” business philanthropy method, where for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will deliver a pair of shoes to a child in need. is the world’s leading online pearl company that donates strands of pearls to charitable and non profit organizations for their auctions.


"In the Buy1GIVE1 world, every single transaction gives back automatically to make a difference. Someone buys a book, a tree gets planted. People dine out, hungry children get fed. A TV gets sold, a cataract-blind child gets the gift of sight. When someone buys a cup of coffee, people in Africa get access to pure, clean water as a direct result. And much, much more; all automatically.
Now you can order your books from Amazon AND make a difference to the environment through the new Amazon-B1G1 partnership. And around 100 more name brands are joining Buy1GIVE1 as we get ready to launch the B1G1 Shopping Village really soon.
So go ahead and order your books now! And be sure to keep coming back for more great stuff from B1G1."


"Shopping Responsibly means giving back to the community while shopping and booking travel. A percentage of what you spend goes to your cause. Why shop any other way?

"Up to 30% of every purchase will go to your favorite cause! Find coupons and deals for more than 1,000 stores."

"It's so easy! You can earn money for your cause or school by doing what you already do -- shopping with your favorite merchants."

"Shop with us and up to 25% of your purchases are donated to your favorite cause - for free!"

AND-For new moms and moms-to-be
Lucky Baby Slings: "baby slings that are durable, reversible and easy-to-use. Made of designer and organic fabrics. What they do for the world: 'We are dedicated to helping others and giving back to our community and world. We hire moms and dads who work from home while doing what they love. We give back to the community. We also give part of the proceeds from all sales to a charity to help a child or family in need. Our current charity is ROCKY MOUNTAIN CANDLELIGHTERS FOR CHILDHOOD CANCER. We are also actively involved in the local community volunteering time and effort to help others.'”