How to skim this article: Coral highlighted areas are sections, teal highlighted areas are linked, and yellow are important bits that may tickle your fancy.
I want to preface this article with the fact that there are scores of charities doing absolutely incredible work. They are in it for the right reasons and have spent significant time molding their programs to be what their beneficiaries truly need from them.
This broken rule is designed to be an always evolving list on the ways you can have incredible impact on the world around you.
The Dark Side of Charity
This idea, in its entirety, is extremely complex.
I once asked a peer how she perceives charities and she asked me, "Would you work yourself out of a job?"
This is but one of the many criticisms of the charitable world. There are inadequate incentives to fix root problems. If we can make the root issues disappear, than those charities disappear... with all of the government funding and jobs with it.
Then there's the ones who are only interested in how their foundation makes them look while they pocket all the funds. For example, Kids Wish Network (not to be confused with make-a-wish) has been accused of bringing in millions of dollars every year and yet only 3% of their funds go toward actually helping kids.
Don't even get me started on the inept systems in some charities...
"Collectively the 50 worst charities raised more than $1.3 billion over the past decade and paid nearly $1 billion of that directly to the companies that raise their donations." This point showcases just how incredible ineffective charity's operations can be.
Fallen Hero Bracelets had to dissolve and pay one million dollars in penalties for falsely leading people to believe their purchases were going towards charities for veterans.
I wish I could say these were uncommon examples, but that would be untrue. There's a special punishment awaiting those who take advantage of people's desire to do good in this world, in my fiery opinion.
There's hope though! Lots of it. I have come to realize there are a multitude of ways to have kickass impact on the world around us - donating money is only one of them.
Ways to Make the World a Better Place
1) Switch to Buying from Ethical or Sustainable Businesses
This is one of my favorite ways to have an impact for a couple of reasons:
- I feel good (without any extra effort) every time I use ethical products.
- It requires nothing from me other than a little research and a slight change in my budget. This point is important for the busy human on the go!
- I truly believe business can make a serious dent in our most pressing problems. By supporting these companies, I know I am voting for the world I want to live in.
I can't get enough of cool businesses with great products who are doing something to make the world a little better than how it was when they started.
I will continue to update this list as I go, but here are my most recent finds for ass kicking companies:
Tru Earth is who I use for laundry detergent and my all purpose cleaner. They created a condensed detergent that comes in strips that are perfectly measured and therefore have no large plastic jug that slooooooowly rots in the landfill. So far, by people switching to Tru Earth, they have saved 4,617,462 plastic jugs from clogging the earth AND the company has donated 8.1 million loads. There's also no gooey mess, so it made my life simpler.
Outcast is who I trust for my protein powder and super greens! I love them because they reduce food waste by collecting all the ugly and surplus produce, cleaning them up, and creating a dope line of nutritional powders that make my life easier. They are organic, non-GMO, and have no added sugar so my shakes are packed with nutrient dense goodness without the carbs.
Dock & Bay has my favorite compact towels. Made from 100% post consumer plastics, they are ultra light and are a much faster dry than cotton towels. (Pssst. You can fit MULTIPLE of these bad boys into our towel strap - enough for the whole family.) They donated 5% of their profits to conservation charities from general sales and 20% from their charity towels.
What ethical brands are you head over heels in love with? Comment below or shoot us an email so we can vet them and add them to the list!
The main thing I want you to take away from this is:
Not all heroes wear capes. Some of us exist 24/6.5 in a messy bun ('cause Friday night, right?).
We don't truly know the impact our small decisions can have. By buying sustainably and ethically, we are helping to create steady change. We are creating demand for even more businesses to adopt a Social or Impact business model (which we simply refer to as Doing Good Business).
We are supporting businesses that are working on sustainable impact by having a steady revenue stream; this gives them the power to show up for those who need it most.
For more on the types of social enterprises, check this out: The Six Types
HA. Didn't see that coming, did you?
Hear me out. I LOVE certain charities. I adore getting to know incredible people who are doing their best to truly be in service. One thing I invariably look for from foundations is evidence and verbiage that showcase they are actively talking to the beneficiaries.
We, as the western world, love to come sweeping in with our grand plans to help ease the suffering in other countries. Rarely, it seems, do we actually sit down to chat with the people who would be receiving our help to see what they truly want. There is nothing better in the "Doing Good" world than listening to lived experience.
An excellent source how to do better good is Tackling Heropreneurship. This report helped us make sure we didn't accidently shove our heads up where the sun doesn't shine.
Some of our favorite initiatives are the ones who are creating work vs giving charity. Many studies show that requiring the beneficiary to have "skin in the game" is an incredibly effective uptake strategy for new solutions. Sometimes charging as little as 5 cents can be all it takes to create buy in and lasting change in a community.
For more on how giving work instead of charity, I highly recommend the book Give Work by Leila Janah. She makes an incredible argument and has proved that her model is effective. (If you purchase the book, I recommend picking one up at your local bookstore! Gotta keep those gems open, after all xx)
Charities / Organizations that we love:
Five14 in Nepal - they focus on ending human trafficking by bringing sustainable income to villages that were otherwise trafficking hotbeds. They run an adorable B&B in Kathmandu and lead treks into the Himalayas. We learned so much from them, their model is sound and their work is spectacular.
Free The Girls - These lovely humans collect lightly used bras and give them to sex trafficked survivors. The survivors then start their own micro-businesses in their areas and create a financially free life and rebuild what was taken from them <3 I highly recommend doing a bra drive! It's a lot of fun (and has the additional benefit of setting you up to be able to judge your friends for what they've bought in the past haha!)
BlinkNow - Founded by Maggie Doyne, her journey started by simply backpacking through Nepal and falling in love with a little girl and the country itself. They now run a home for children, a school, a health clinic, and a women's center. I highly recommend you listen to Maggie's journey. It's inspiring as all hell.
Purnaa - An ethical manufacturer (ours, actually!) who creates work for survivors of exploitation and marginalization. They have incredible programs for those who have been exploited where they receive life training in the AM, and learn the trade of sewing i the PM. They offer scholarships to their employee's children and have a scholarship for their employees to further their education, even if it has nothing to do with a job in textiles! If you have a business project that needs t-shirts or hat swag, or if you create products yourself, check them out.
3) A Bunch of Other Ideas
- Donate blood
- Host a fundraiser, and get creative with it!
- Share your favorite ethical brands with your friends
- Pick up that piece of trash you see as you walk to your car
- SMILE and ask how people are. Pause. Make eye contact. Mean it. It can change someone's day.
- Give your gently used clothing away
- Have a couch or other items you don't need anymore? If you can, check in with friends or family and see if anyone knows someone who needs it more than you do.
- Take care of yourself. A happy you contributes to a happier planet <3 We'll be making an entire blog post about how to take care of your soul so keep an eye out!