If the Shoe Fits: The Changing Face of Corporate Philanthropy

When the economy began to turn for the worse, nonprofits saw their corporate partners pull back on their giving. While, corporations don’t give for the “tax-deduction”, they enjoy the community visibility can receive for their donation often in the form of an event sponsorship. The corporations association with doing good work in the community can also provide goodwill in the form of customers.

Recently, we have seen that corporations are including a philanthropy component in their business model by actively supporting their chosen nonprofits. Can an active role in the philanthropic world ultimately do good and attract more customers for these businesses?

One of the leaders, TOMS Shoes has a “one for one” philosophy. For every one pair of shoes purchased by a customer, TOMS Shoes will donate one pair of shoes to a child in need. Same with their newly launched eyewear line: “With every pair of eyewear purchased, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need.”

Instead of becoming experts in delivering nonprofit direct services, TOMS Shoes partners up with humanitarian organizations worldwide that provide new TOMS Shoes to children along with their own health, education and community development programs. TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie “We’re here to do more than to give. We’re here to learn about the needs of these communities; to listen and to act.”

While other wineries like FlipFlop Wines donate a portion of the proceeds to one charity: Soles4Souls, (http://www.soles4souls.org) the international shoe charity dedicated to providing footwear to those in need. Their goal is to provide one-pair of flip-flop sandals for each bottle of wine purchased last year up to 100,000 pairs for the first 100,000 bottles sold. Melanie Amezaga, Brand Manager for flipflop says “Partnering with Souls4Soles was a natural fit and is as simple as allowing those who enjoy a good bottle of wine to also make a personal difference in the lives of countless others.”

Since 2005, Soles4Souls has delivered over 16 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes. The shoes have been distributed to people in over 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States. “The reality of life for many individuals in developing nations is that having a pair of shoes is a rarity. It is not uncommon for children to grow up in these areas without ever having had a pair of shoes at all.”

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