Monday, May 2, 2011

Tēvolution: Tracking the Impact

As attitudes toward giving continue to evolve, plenty of businesses claim to support charities or non-profits with a chunk of their proceeds, but do you ever find yourself wondering how those dollars and cents get spent? How often are you able to follow up, to really learn the details? A new beverage company, Tēvolution, has addressed just that problem by allowing customers to trace the path of their contribution straight to the cause it's helping to fund.

As Ian Simpson, who co-founded Tēvolution with Gerard Artavia, described it to me, "Customers want to know where their dollars are going. For so long we've heard things like, 'a portion of the proceeds go to charity,' and we thought, 'What portion? How much? What if people knew exactly what their purchase led to?'"

And so they conceived of a concept to do exactly that, dubbing it "Track Your Impact." For every bottle of their four flavors of iced tea sold, Tēvolution donates a quarter to one of its non-profit partners, encouraging the customer to take part in the process by peeling the label off the bottle to reveal a unique four-digit numerical code, which allows them to follow their donation at

As we've seen with many socially conscious businesses, Tēvolution uses social networking to augment the process in some really fun and innovative ways. Customers can create an account to track the charitable proceeds of their purchases. Says Simpson, "Now we give customers a dashboard on our website, and they can link their Facebook and Twitter accounts to share their giving with their friends. So it's not just personal - it's social, and that's great for our nonprofit partners as well. The upside for customers is an added layer of authenticity: by drinking and posting, they tell their friends that they believe in what we do, are proud to be a part of it, and want others to see and know about it. We're cultivating a community of supporters and advocates, which grows as we expand to new stores and locations."

Encouraging that level on involvement on the part of the customer is a smart move. The Tēvolution network informs them where and how their donations are being spent, building awareness for the nonprofits, but also leveraging social media to spread the message of the core brand, which is beneficial to their causes, and heck, a clever way to sell more iced tea. It's another reminder that what is good for the community can still, at the end of the day, be good for the bottom line as well.

Hop over to their site and have a look around. The concept is novel and the tea is delicious. On Wednesday I'll be back to take a closer look at a few of Tēvolution's nonprofit partners.

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