NOTE: This is a guest post by Mark Moschel, Director at Mirza Minds, a product design and brand development firm.
$2 isn’t enough to buy a toothbrush at Walgreens, a bottle of Fiji water or even a hotdog at Wrigley field.
Do you know how many people live on less than $2 a day?
3,350,000,000. That’s 48 percent of the world’s population.
Could you live on $2 a day?
Luckily, many of us don’t have to. We have worked hard to ensure our families and those we love can live a comfortable life. We can afford the luxury of clothes, nice food, housing, travel, etc. We own hats, headphones, bags, books, games and toys. We spend more than $2 on our morning coffee.
To give back, we donate money to charities supporting those less fortunate than ourselves. We cut a check, and then continue with our lives, satisfied with the good we have done. While this is great, there is potential for so much more.
It is estimated that Americans spent $10.7 trillion shopping in 2011. If we can harness the collective power of our consumer behavior toward social good, we can create a massive, positive impact on the world.
So how do we encourage consumers to be this powerful source of good? By making charity and service core values of our products and our businesses. By integrating awareness for important causes into the commerce culture. By changing the perception of charity from a standalone act to a seamless component of society.
Charity as a core value isn’t just a marketing ploy. It’s a way to engage a new audience in a charitable endeavor, bring awareness to important global causes, and provide a tremendous amount of change in the world. The value of one’s dollar certainly goes further if donated directly than if used to buy a commodity that supports charity, but that’s missing the point. If we want to create a culture of giving, it should be present in all aspects of life. People will always buy commodities, so why not buy ones that support a cause?
Being aware of the cause and feeling good about the charitable act associated with it is the first step toward developing that charitable habit. We must stay mindful of the causes we care about, since they do not disappear when we donate. Socially-conscious products keep us mindful by being a physical representation of the causes we support. The product acts as a visual trigger to maintain our passion and to raise awareness for the people around us.
We also need to change the context in which we perceive donations. Money is a vehicle to create positive change, but it is the actual change, not the money, that should be valued. As a society, we need to remember that while donating money is great, it is the change this money creates that is truly transformative. It is the actual change that we need to understand and feel good about.
Businesses should be empowering their consumers to change the world by clearly showing them the impact they are making. Don’t simply enable people to donate money, empower them to donate actions – feed a child, quench a thirst, help find a cure. By thinking in the context of actions, we are developing a cultural mindset focused on results.
This trend of socially-conscious goods is still very young, but it’s starting to grow rapidly. To further this movement, we have created the 1:Face Watch, a fashion product with a humanitarian heart. With every purchase, the 1:Face Watch empowers consumers to support one of six different global causes, including cancer, hunger, water, the environment, AIDS and breast cancer.
The project is in alliance with the American Cancer Society, One Day’s Wages, Charity: Water, The Adventure Project, Keep a Child Alive and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The watches, selling for $40 each, are color coded according to cause and fulfill charity specific metrics. For example, One Day’s Wages will provide food supplements to 16 children in the Horn of Africa for every white watch sold, while Charity: Water will build a well to support an entire village in Rwanda for every 625 yellow watches sold.
The project launched on October 1st on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. In just one month, contributions will provide 15,264 children with food, 131 charcoal-efficient stoves to families in Haiti, 28 mammograms, 129 months of AIDS treatment, support for 11672 cancer patients, and 61 percent of the funding necessary to build a well in Rwanda.
A lot of our customers are young and excited to be making an impact in the world. When they check the time, they are reminded of their own good fortune and their potential to help those in need. Each and every one of them has the power to change the world. Let’s help them do it.
Photo courtesy of 1:Face Watch