When asking whether the Buy One Give One model of business giving really helps to improve lives, it might help to follow it with another question.
Whose lives are we aiming to improve?
The giving model of Buy One Give One (B1G1) may appear to be all one sided – businesses give and charities receive.
Ask a few more questions and you’ll see the giving goes much deeper… and wider, making a difference in a myriad ways. It positively affects the business, their chosen projects, and ripples through staff, clients, family and community.
Business – Adding an extra heart
Chairman of B1G1 Paul Dunn is on the ‘frontline’ – talking with giving businesses every day. When asked if people join B1G1 because it’s good for their business, he’s quick to reply “Never!”
“People join B1G1 because they want to make a difference. It happens to be very good for their business, but that’s never the reason they join.”
B1G1 is all about the power of small. It doesn’t rely on big business to make big impacts; it’s about every business doing what they can in whatever way they can.
Solo businesswoman Chris Wildeboer of Balance Central puts it perfectly.
“I joined Buy One Give One because I saw it has an opportunity for a micro business owner to contribute – even in a small way. B1G1 is attached to every program or session I share with others. So for me, it’s added extra heart, and an extra way to give.”
Miren Oca of Ocaquatics runs swim schools throughout Florida, USA. She discovered an unexpected, practical benefit to being a B1G1 partner. “Since we give an amount for each lesson, we actually track each lesson more carefully. We always did this but now that we send in payments each month, we actually break it down in several ways for our own statistics. It has helped me track the trends in my business weekly.”
Team – Creating meaning
Getting your team on board with the giving activities can make an incredible difference.
Most B1G1 businesses involve their team in the process of choosing projects. Many invite team members to create their own giving accounts through the business.
Some turn the giving into an incentive so team members are striving not just to benefit themselves, but for the good of others.
The majority of Miren Oca’s team members (about 100 strong) are millennials.
“We find that millennials want to do business with or want to work for a company that makes a difference. They want to feel like they are changing the world when they spend their money or when they go to work each day. It is just the way they are wired. We feel that social responsibility can be a really powerful tool in our recruiting efforts for employees.”
Clients – Connecting in a real way
You’ll hear members talk of change taking place in their client base once they start integrating the Buy One Give One model into their business.
Author of ‘Start with Why’ Simon Sinek succinctly states “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
Deborah Harris of Gil McKerrow Accountants describes it as “Watching a slow evolution of our client base. We are more in tune with identifying people who share those values.”
“If I start talking with a client about Buy One Give One and their eyes glaze over, I know we probably won’t be well suited for a long term business relationship.”
Social Media Strategist Adam Houlahan says “We have two words our company is known for now through our partnership with B1G1 – Connection and Impact. We find our clients tend to remain clients longer than they used to when we create impacts with them, we also have seen a lot more referrals from existing clients. In fact, referrals are now one of our top sources for new clients.”
For Chris Wildeboer who works one-on-one with clients, the response when giving a B1G1 Gratitude Certificate was priceless. “WOW this is amazing, I’m going to put this on my fridge and let my visitors ask questions!”
Family – Taking business home
When you take B1G1 home, wonderful things can happen. Deborah Harris’ shared just how impactful this decision can be.
“Our daughter Jessica came home one day and told us about some of the 16th Birthday parties her classmates were having. She said she didn’t want to have a party like that – it was a waste of money and superficial.”
Jessica had been on a B1G1 study tour to Cambodia. For her party, she came up with handcrafted invitations requesting “Please do not bring gifts. Instead I would like you to bring $16 and together we can share my birthday with the world.”
“Those students – boys and girls – throughout the evening all logged onto B1G1 and gave their $16 gift to a project that took their fancy. At the end of her party, each one received a Gratitude Certificate outlining collectively the impact the group had managed to have.”
“One lovely young man turned to me and said “Mrs Harris, this is the best party bag I have ever received.” Can’t argue with that!”
Community – Reaching out further
Peter Dobias had a very simple reason for joining B1G1. “Our mission is to help as many dogs as possible and B1G1 seemed like a great organization to help humans, the environment and animals around the world.” Dr. Dobias is a Holistic Veterinarian based in Vancouver, Canada.
“I feel it’s opened our eyes and hearts to so many worthy projects and given us a deeper sense of connection and community both within our community of Dr. Dobias Natural Healing and also on a more global scale.”
“We involved our community in choosing the projects. We sent out a survey which allowed us to share options and hear what was most important to them which ended up being a range of projects including health, education, environment and of course animals.”
Here are a few comments that made us smile;
“Wish more companies would do the same!”
“A great idea and I am very excited about this opportunity to help others.”
“I did not choose a country, because I feel everybody should be helped!”
People and Projects – 200 million smiles
With close to 200 million giving impacts to date, there is no doubt the model works for the hundreds of Worthy Causes around the world – be it as simple as providing access to water for one day, as life-changing as cataract removing surgery, as personal as a new school uniform or as long-term as building a new classroom one brick at a time.
On choosing projects, Adam Houlahan said “Some are chosen simply because of the importance of supporting them, such as access to clean water. Others are from personal values (projects that help children) or we align the project in some way with the product or service.”
“An example would be when people purchase my first book we give the gift of sight, with my latest book we give access to library books for girls in Cambodia.”
Miren Oca likes knowing all her giving is going to her chosen project. “I really like the idea that my membership pays for the overhead and that anytime we make a donation, 100% of that will go to a project on the ground.”
As for her projects – that was an easy decision.
“WATER! We use so much in my business and I think that most of us take water completely for granted. I thought this would be an opportunity to keep the water challenges that others have forefront in the minds of my team members.”
Personal – Every giving gives back
People talk of giving as a selfless act, yet we hear time and time again that it’s the giver who receives so much more.
Peter Dobias puts it this way “There is a great sense of happiness that comes with knowing that when you are doing well as a company, in turn that translates to helping others. Having a habit of giving also gives a constant reminder to be generous and contribute what you can, be it time, money or items to causes that you can help.”
Deborah and Jeremy Harris took their whole family to the B1G1 conference this year. She said there were many highlights, but one in particular still brings tears to her eyes.
“Prior to the conference, we were all given the opportunity to contribute to the work of the John Fawcett Foundation who operates a mobile eye clinic and operating theatre van in some of the poorest villages of Bali. My sister is legally blind and I care deeply about helping families who have a cherished member struggling with issues around sight.
“Our family chose to contribute to the project and visit the clinic. They donated on my behalf one cataract surgery. At our visit, I just couldn’t stop crying.”
“I couldn’t believe all those people could have glasses for just 15 cents; I couldn’t believe it could be just a few hours from diagnosis of cataracts to watching someone have them removed. I stepped into the surgical van to watch the procedure being done and I heard some quiet clapping from the theatre end. The young surgeon had just managed to remove the whole cataract from her patient. She quietly slid open the door connecting the theatre and the waiting area and handed me the cataract on a piece of gauze.”
“How can I describe the incredible joy! You see that was “my” cataract! Not much to look at – of no value in its own right but more precious to me than diamonds.”