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The feeling of leading a charitable and sustainable life is one that most of us want. For those of us that don’t straight-out donate to charity, making the right choices is essentially the best way to give back.

Sort of like that decision not to go to McDonald’s but to use the local bakery instead or buying a pair of TOMS, for example, we feel as if we’ve given something back without making any effort. Guilt-free consumption, if you will.

If you’re not familiar with TOMS, it's the shoe and eyewear brand with the ‘One for One’ philosophy. For every product bought, TOMS will help a person in need.

Of course, this reads a little like cheating on the part of the customer that wants to feel like a saint whilst getting those in vogue boating shoes. Well, actually I don’t think it is.

I think ecommerce and philanthropy are a natural fit, allowing customers to give something back simply by making the right choices.

In this post, I’ll be listing eight buy-to-give ecommerce companies and explaining why I think this movement might fundamentally change company culture.

Why ecommerce and charity are a good fit

Digital transformation

Transparency, sustainability, charity. These are more important than ever, as the giants such as Amazon are taking sales away from smaller merchants.

Adding an experiential aspect to ecommerce may be needed for some companies to stand apart in a very competitive market. If the product is desirable, teamed with a cause, and fairly unique (see TOMS) the result can be powerful. 

Fewer overheads

Of course, ecommerce operations mean charitable retailers don’t have to open on every high street. With ecommerce getting cheaper and easier to run, the technology is there and the public is ready. 

Easy to make that decision

It’s easy to choose a good cause. Products can be delivered, shopping habits don’t have to change that much, and the decision to shop charitably is as easy as visiting a different URL or installing a plug-in. 

Culture of transparency insisted upon

Every company has a mission statement, it’s nothing new. Giving back to the community, or the world, is often part of a mission statement.

What is new though is making a commitment to do something measurable and not over a short span of time. 

Possible problems?

Of course, this commitment isn’t made lightly. As these companies are for-profit (including TOMS), there has to be complete unbending commitment to never compromise on the charitable part of the business.

One could imagine the disintegration of a brand if it failed to meet expectations. 

The buy-to-give companies

TOMS

Shoe and spectacle seller that provides shoes and eye surgery to the developing world for every purchase.

Warby Parker

Buy a pair (of glasses), give a pair. This year Warby Parker hit 500,000 pairs given to people in need.

MyGoodness

MyGoodness is focused on making giving back to causes simple, easy and enjoyable.

The site offers a cool range of high end products (from gadgets to culture and fashion) all of which trigger donations back to charity when bought and you get to see exactly where your money goes.

The site is also the first place to stock all the luxury cause-marketing products, sustainable lines and leading buy-one, give-one brands.

Where products are stocked that aren’t produced with a charitable cause in mind, MyGoodness donates 10% of the sale to a good cause.

Give as you Live

This is a plug-in for your internet browser and you can also shop through the website proper, clicking through to a variety of retailers. It allows you to shop for over 3,000 brands as normal (and at the same price).

A portion of your money goes to your charitable cause.

BiddingForGood

An auction site where non-profits can raise money auctioning experiences. More than $200m has been raised so far.

Give Bones

Buy a collar, save a dog. Perhaps not on the same scale of some of these examples, nevertheless Give Bones gives 10% of the buying price to dog shelters.

Auxilium Art

A social enterprise dedicated to the sale of artwork. Its mission is to ‘showcase the work of a select group of artists, while supporting charitable organisations that benefit disadvantaged communities.’ 

Every single sale of artwork on the site directly supports an artist, institution, or non profit.

Filanthropists.com

Allows customers to buy and charities to sell, it also unites merchants with charities and vice versa.

 

Ben Davis

Published 5 November, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff

Just been introduced to http://www.roozt.com/ , another great example of the cause movement.

about 3 years ago

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webmoghuls

totally agree with you. Great post

about 3 years ago

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Charli

fairsharemusic.com is also a good one. A normal music download store that also gives 50% of its profits to charity.

about 3 years ago

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