DIY Philanthropy: How To Be A Genuine Do-Gooder In 4 Easy Steps
Traditionally speaking, philanthropy is about giving but let’s be real, it’s called cause marketing for a reason. The more you personally get from giving, the more you’ll work to promote the cause, resulting in greater benefits for the charity you’re supporting. This is a two-way relationship; it isn’t just about giving, it’s about making positive change in your own life and the lives of others. Philanthropy helps to elevate your brand and profile, and at the same time makes you a genuine do-gooder! Your audience, your customers, your followers and your fans all want to know what you care about. If you’re a brand, your audience wants to know your values. Do you believe in sustainable business practices? Do you offer wellness incentives for your staff? Does your company do volunteer work in your community? And if you work for a company, do they offer these benefits? These days brands and influencers are expected to have some type of philanthropic initiative as a part of their core beliefs and actions.
Recently I was given the awesome opportunity to mentor at Create & Cultivate, an inspiring conference that gives a platform to creatives, entreprenuers, and business leaders. Over the years, I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to do great work with many brands, celebrities and athletes and preparing my presentation gave made me realize once again how lucky I've been to work with people that want to do good in the world. Below are my four important steps to becoming a genuine do-gooder.
1. SOUL SEARCH
What do you really care about? What makes your heart melt? And what really pisses you off? Pick a cause that you feel passionately about, one that impacts your personal life; a message that you would share with the world if you could. When you find a cause that really calls out to you, you can always make a difference for it, no matter where you are in your personal brand journey.
Keep A Breast works with Simply Straws, a brand that makes reusable glass drinking straws, founded by professional snowboarder Chanelle Sladics. Every day in the United States 500 million plastic straws are used and then thrown away. Simply Straw’s mission is to reduce single use plastic straws with the hope of reducing waste.They are a registered B Corp, which means they have made a commitment to meet social sustainable and environmental performance standards.
Simply Straws has two straws that support Keep A Breast. And as part of their “Straws for a Cause” campaign they give back to Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance working for a world free of plastic pollution and Protect Our Winters, a worldwide snow sports community that is leading the fight against climate change. Chanelle’s passion for eliminating plastic pollution inspired her to create this very cool brand. Simply Straws is a great example of an enterprise built on doing good.
Once you have a few choices, do your research and get to know what makes the organization tick. Who was it founded by and why? Check out their annual report to get an idea of their activities. Look at how they spend their money and how they spend their time. Then you can decide whether you agree with their strategies.
Brands and influencers contact me everyday to collaborate. Unbelievably, Carl’s Jr. once asked if we wanted to do an I love boobies! chicken breast sandwich. True Story.
We always take the time to do our research. Keep A Breast is a certified PETA humane charity and will not work with any brands that test on animals. When we are approached by beauty or food brands, we carefully examine the ingredient lists and do not partner with any company who uses known carcinogens in their products. Keep A Breast wants to partner with people and brands that share our values. It is important to know who you are potentially aligning with; be sure they measure them up to your beliefs and values.
Even if you are simply giving an organization a donation of your money or time, it is important to know if their work aligns with your personal beliefs. Your time and money are important and if you are going to give it to someone, you want to know that they are doing the work that attracted you to them in the first place.
3. MEET UP
If possible, meet with the organization’s founder and staff face to face. Get to know each other. How can you learn from and help one another? How can you create a relationship that is mutually beneficial? Formulate a plan so you’re both clear about your expectations. Check in regularly to keep the relationship vibrant and alive.
Technology has made it easy to connect with like-minded people that have a similar spirit. These days you can have a best friend that you’ve never met in person. It’s important to meet new partners face to face, even if it’s just on Skype. Working together is a marriage of sorts and it’s important to have a feeling of trust when entering into a new collaboration. An in person meeting can ignite excitement and passion about a partnership that you just can’t get from an email.
Last year we did a wonderful collection with 31 Bits, a fashion company using design to empower people to rise above poverty, started after a group of girlfriends witnessed the hardships faced by single unemployed mothers lacking healthcare in Uganda. I was familiar with the brand but when I had the chance to meet two of the founders, Alli and Jessie, I fell in love. Since it launched they have empowered hundreds of women to escape poverty.
If your personal brand is still growing and you can't quite get a meeting with the organizations founder, see if they are speaking anywhere and attend, or even check out talks they have given online. It's important to get the vibe of the person you are wanting to align yourself with and see what they are really about in the most transparent way possible.
4. HAVE FUN
Tell your network about your charity and any chance you get, weave their cause into your personal brand. Create a fundraising campaign and use the creativity that got you here to meet your goal. I’m sure you will exceed it. This can be done at any time in your life. Some of the best fundraisers for Keep A Breast have been put on by people organizing their own event and donating the proceeds. Nothing is too little and every act counts.
This is one of the most important steps. Working with a charity is not just about doing good, but enriching lives. Our partners have enriched my life in many ways that are immeasurable; they have brought me around the world, introduced me to the kindest souls and challenged me to become more open. Most importantly they have allowed me to live a purposeful do-gooder life. You don't need your own organization to feel this way, volunteering for your charity of choice or putting on your own fundraiser can introduce you to other do-gooders and form a life-long bond, spur an idea, or take you to another level in your do-gooder journey.
OK! With these four steps in mind, get out your do-gooder checklist and go make some magic!