I’ve blogged before, and likely will again, about companies like Warby Parker glasses and TOMS shoes, who have implemented the business model of buy-one-give-one. They are set up so that for each item a customer purchases, a similar item is donated to a community in need. It’s a good model, and is being more readily adopted by more companies, and provides the opportunity for customer loyalty to extend to cause-based issues, education about a chosen problem that can be addressed, and chance for retail to do well while doing good. Bottom line for a business needn’t be exclusively profit.
Since my normal stomping grounds include the travel industry, I am pleased to see footholds being made with this model in this arena as well. Elevate Destinations has launched a new Buy a Trip, Give a Trip model, where every client trip booked through this philanthropic travel company triggers a parallel experience for a child in a developing world destination. Working with local, on-the-ground NGOs, Elevate sponsors outings for youth groups that would otherwise not have access to the sites (and sights) that draw tourists from around the world. Children of Cape Town communities getting to visit Robben Island, for example, or Peruvian youth finally seeing Machu Picchu…it expands the experiences and understanding of marginalized young people.
For a while now, we’ve been aware of responsible travel practices and tools, like carbon offsets, that counter some of the impact we have on the planet as we engage with it…now, with this new Buy One Give One (#B1G1) model for travel…it could be seen as cultural offset, where your visit to a new community or destination leaves something more than footprints.
You probably already know about TOMS, the shoe company that was one of the early standouts in the each-one-reach-one movement, donating a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair purchased by consumers. Perhaps you even own a pair or three of the casual shoes. Now, TOMS is partnering with animal conservation organizations around the world to donate a portion of proceeds to protection of endangered species.
The philanthropically-focused company hopes to drive attention and fundraising energy toward several non-profit agencies, the first being The Virunga National Park to help support Silverback mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo that are targeted by poachers and are victims of habitat destruction. There are only about 900 of these majestic creatures left in the wild. A new limited edition shoe has been launched for the program, vegan Earthwise classics with the park’s logo embroidered on the side.
Other Virunga National Park projects include an elephant program, a bloodhound initiative training highly skilled dogs to help discover poachers in the wild, a fallen ranger program to help the families of the surprisingly high number of park rangers killed, and region-specific conservation efforts. Find out more, and consider making a donation via your hip footwear or directly.
It’s a bit gray and rainy here this morning, and spring hasn’t quite warmed us up yet for the season, so the invitation to spend the day without shoes seems a bit daunting. It’s not a surprise that I am a card-carrying member of the Blake Mycoskie fan club, and his paradigm-shifting company, TOM’S Shoes. The funky, simple shoes themselves have achieved cult status (I’m wearing my gray Botas right now–until I kick them off for this day). The company really set into motion what has become a well-known framework for sustainable giving–their One for One program, where, for every pair of shoes you buy, another pair of shoes is given to a child in need. The volunteer options are amazing, and the road to success of the company and the philanthropy if engenders is a roadmap for others.
Today, April 5, is One Day Without Shoes, a global barefoot movement to bring attention to the issues of those who have no choice, and the diseases and problems that can arise from having no protection for your feet. It gets people talking, makes people aware, and certainly makes us grateful for what we have. Just one day…no shoes.
Blake Rocks. He was a competitor on The Amazing Race, traveled the world before and since that high profile stint, and founded the paradigm-shifting TOMS Shoes. He has a rogue spirit and demeanor, audaciously taking on the world on his terms. He seems to do a lot of asking “Why Not?” and ultimately, nobody can come up with a satisfactory answer for why he can’t do something–so he does it. I long to absorb more of that spirit.
Blake, who holds the title of “Chief Shoe Giver,” came up with the grand plan for their über-successful shoe company: the One For One movement. When visiting Argentina a few years ago, Blake befriended local kids, learning that they had no shoes. It didn’t take a lot of deep digging to discover all sorts of pernicious diseases and conditions that befall populations that are forced to be barefoot, so his upstart shoe company donates a brand new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. TOMS Shoes have achieved an almost cult cool status as your feet broadcast the fact that you care about the world and take responsibility for helping with conscientious buying. It is a brilliant business model–and even better life model. Volunteers can join the TOMS Shoes gang for international shoe drops, where you go along to deliver hundreds or thousands of pairs of shoes to a community, fitting kids with what can often be their first footwear…but the trips fill up with enthusiastic volunteers almost immediately, and demand for those volunteer slots is enormous–giving that volunteer gig some cult status as well.
Shoe drops have gone out to South Africa, Rwanda, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United States, and more than a milion pairs of shoes have been donated.
Blake, a philanthropy rock star, has a great blog: Start Something That Matters, with lots of inspiration, a terrific title, and access to the mind behind the movement. I bookmark it and look forward to updates to get me fired up.
TOMS Shoes is a fantastic organization about which I’ll be writing more later (the short version: for every pair of shoes you buy, they provide a pair of shoes to a child in need. Every Pair), and Blake Mycoskie, the founder and “head shoe giver” is a brilliant example of hitting the right idea at the right time and being super smart about how he grows a movement, making change cool and desirable.
Tomorrow, April 8, people everywhere are going without shoes by choice, to help spread awareness of the difference a pair of shoes can make in the life of a child. One Day Without Shoes is being joined by some star power as well, like young actresses Kristen Bell, Heather Graham (“I’m pretty nervous about it because I live in New York City and it’s really, really gross here.”), and Brittany Snow.
Most people in developing companies grow up barefoot.
- In some developing nations, children must walk for miles to school, clean water, and to seek medical help.
- Cuts and sores on feet can lead to serious infection.
- Often, children cannot attend school barefoot.
- In Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil.
- Podoconiosis is 100% preventable with basic foot hygiene and wearing shoes.
Think about your feet, kick off your Manolos or Timberlands, and then commit to making a difference (shopping for TOMS shoes is an easy, one-for-one way to lend a hand).