photo via: Huffington Post
photo via: Huffington Post

The other day I sat in a meeting for a non-profit I’m involved with and the conversation was on branding. The topic quickly turned to cause marketing or how to use your good deeds to get love for your brand. The organization I’m involved with already does good deeds, it’s a non-profit for goodness sake!  But I walked away from the meeting pondering the question, are we truly being authentic or are we taking away from our purpose when we use it for gain?

I do think when you are doing great work in your service towards others,  you want the world to know it and you should. This is what non-profits have been doing for decades. Many corporations have built their business on their authentic support of community, such as Wells Fargo. Not for gain but because it is what is right and part of their core corporate culture. It is simply what they do.

The question becomes more perplexing when you are a business. A for profit business. There has been a recent development in the past few years of for profit businesses establishing themselves as B Corporations by earning a B Corp Certificate from the nonprofit group B Lab. These companies are not non-profits but support non-profits. One example is Jessica Alba’s Honest The Honest Company. The Honest Company sells and delivers monthly organic diapers and other non-toxic chemical free products. They give some products and revenue to related causes.

The Honest Company is going public and is raising $150 million dollars. Like any public company’s mission, their goal is to maximize its return to its stake holders. The stake holders are the beneficiary in public companies, not the cause. Honest or not? Is this a win-win or a very gray area?  Which brings me back full circle to where we began, is being good simply to gain, really good?

I am not sure. What do you think?

Charity Matters.


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