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If you want to be a successful company, you have to sell a great product or service. That’s business 101.
But there’s a growing piece of the business equation that not enough companies are talking about: how you give back to the world around you.
It doesn’t matter if you call it “social good” or “corporate social responsibility.” What does matter to a growing section of your customers? Knowing what you and your company stand for and how you are helping the larger world.
An early poster child for this approach was TOMS Shoes, which launched an initiative to donate a pair of shoes to children in need for every pair sold. This model has been repeated by many others.
Just this past week, for example, I bought a Roo camping hammock from Kammock after learning that for every purchase, they donate a mosquito net to help fight malaria in Africa. Even though their product was roughly $30 more than the hammock I had planned to buy, I went with Roo because they were doing something more for the world.
We want to know that our dollars are going to companies who care. I’m not alone in this thinking. Peter Shankman’s new book, Nice Companies Finish First features numerous stories about exactly this.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for how companies should do good. Every corporate culture is unique and needs to determine how best to give back.
Perhaps you want to focus on giving back locally. Or maybe there is a specific global issue that fits best with your mission. The trick is determining something that is core to the company and makes sense. Giving back just by writing a check is not going to help anyone.
Take one look at the Life is good Company and you know that their service efforts go hand-in-hand with their values. They are all about having fun, being optimistic and making sure that the children of the world keep a smile on their face by playing as much as possible. Yes, they are a clothing company known for fun T-shirts and hats. But I don’t really need any more shirts. Somehow, though, I find myself going back to them again and again because I know some of my money goes toward helping others.
In the coming years, you are going to see more of this outreach. Society is finally recognizing the importance of thinking beyond our individual walls. We are in this together.
Make money and be successful, of course, but do it while helping those around you.
C.C. Chapman is a Boston-based storyteller, explorer and humanitarian. Since graduating from Bentley in 1996, he has launched and sold a successful marketing agency, addressed audiences around the world, and written two best-selling books. His newest book, Amazing Things Will Happen, is out now. Find out more at cc-chapman.com.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.