27 Jun How Companies Can Be Leaders in Product Philanthropy
At Good360, we have long championed product philanthropy as an excellent way to realize the triple bottom line — people, planet, and profits.
By instituting a regular practice of donating goods, companies can drive real benefits in all three areas. Product donations can improve the bottom line while directly helping communities in need around the country and internationally. They can also reduce the amount of excess goods that end up in our landfills.
Product philanthropy can serve to better engage employees in the company’s mission and create a “halo effect” that helps in recruiting fresh talent. It can build brand equity and increase the loyalty of consumers who are increasingly voting with their pocketbooks to support socially conscious businesses.
Visionary companies understand the value of doing good through giving goods. We established our Circle of Good Awards, given out for the first time in late 2016, to recognize a few of these leaders in product philanthropy.
Here, we’re taking a closer look at what these companies are doing that could serve as best practices for other brands. Each of the following key takeaways comes from one of our 2016 Circle of Good Award winners.
Make Product Donations a Sustainable Practice
Cleaning out your warehouse once or twice a year, and donating the excess goods to a charitable organization such as Good360 is a fine thing to do. We welcome any donations that can be of use to our nonprofit partners. The greater good comes when companies integrate product philanthropy directly into their supply chains, making it a systematic part of how the business operates day in and day out.
Walmart is one such company. Because its business relies on incredibly complex logistics, Walmart has long put systems in place to ensure that excess products that can be donated are regularly identified, taken out of distribution centers, and sent to the appropriate charities. Much of this work — the industry calls it “reverse logistics” — happens at Walmart’s massive return centers, where unwanted items purchased by customers are received and sorted.
Our Circle of Good Awards honored three of these return centers (in Bentonville, AR; Las Vegas; and Johnstown, NY) for their role in collecting and distributing millions of dollars in product donations.
Walmart is also one of just a handful of corporate partners participating in Good360’s Direct Truckload Program, along with Grainger, Tempur-Sealy, and The Home Depot.
Every week, Walmart prepares semi-truckloads loaded with thousands of items each, including toys, diapers, home goods, cleaning supplies and personal care, and storage containers. Each of these trucks represents tens of thousands in household goods. This means nonprofits who receive these shipments are paying pennies on the dollar for these goods.
Make Donations a Part of Your Brand Promise
Another Circle of Good Award winner, Tempur-Sealy epitomizes Good360’s philosophy of purposeful giving where companies are making donations based on their core values, brand promise, mission and vision.
Tempur-Sealy states in its mission statement that the company is “dedicated to improving the quality of life for people around the world by providing bedding products.” It backs up this brand promise by not only making one of the industry’s best-quality mattresses and allowing millions of people to sleep better each night, it also has donated tens of thousands of its products to nonprofits through Good360.
In 2016 alone, Good360 was able to distribute millions of dollars worth of premium mattresses to more than 70 organizations, ranging from homeless shelters and veterans groups to refugee resettlement programs. For over six years, Tempur-Sealy has partnered with Good360 through the Mattress Truckload Program — each truck is loaded with hundreds of thousands of dollars in mattresses, from twins to kings.
As anyone who has suffered through the night sleeping on a bad bed knows, a high-quality mattress can be a life changer. So by focusing its product philanthropy on its trademark product — and not something unrelated such as office equipment or computers — Tempur-Sealy ties its donations directly into its brand promise to improve lives through better sleep. This gives consumers even more reason to be loyal to the company, and in turn, allows the company to keep donating more mattresses.
Make Sure Your Donations Are Super Useful
It’s the reality that many products given to nonprofits end up getting sent to the trash heap because they couldn’t be used for one reason or another. It may be medicine or food that’s expired, or computer equipment that’s too outdated, or enormous piles of used clothing.
This certainly isn’t the case with the products donated by another Circle of Good Award winner, Red Wing Shoes. Everyone needs high-quality foot wear. In some circumstances, shoes are not only essential, they can be life-changing.
Through Good360, Red Wing has donated shoes to men and women staying at homeless shelters. For this vulnerable population, the value of quality footwear cannot be overstated as it’s an expense that many simply cannot afford. Additionally, many of these people need good shoes to perform in their jobs. Red Wing’s generous donations made sure their path to recovery wasn’t hindered by the lack of this basic necessity.
Red Wing was also able to step in and fill a real need after flooding devastated parts of Louisiana in August 2016. Closed-toe shoes were an absolute necessity for people who needed to wade through the mud and muck to sort through the mess in their homes. At a time when going out to shop for a pair of shoes may have been the last things on their minds, these families who lost everything got exactly what they needed in the moment.
Transforming Lives Through Product Philanthropy
These Circle of Good Award recipients demonstrate what leadership in product philanthropy can achieve when the practice is thoughtfully integrated into your business operations. We honored these companies because they epitomize our belief that purposeful giving can create incredible benefits for both businesses and the communities that they are helping.
As these best practices illustrate, the key is to be highly strategic about what you’re giving so you’re delivering the right products to the right people at the right time. For decades, Good360 has been working to be the bridge that brings together corporations and nonprofit partners to realize this vision.