Socially responsible companies have been around for decades.
For instance, Patagonia has been donating 1% of its annual sales to environmental causes since 1985, with the mission "to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
Stonyfield Farms also donates a hefty portion of its annual profits -- 10% -- to nonprofits that help protect and restore the earth.
While these companies have been socially responsible for years, many businesses started within the last decade have been founded from the ground up with a socially conscious mindset. In other words, they have business models that are as much about making money as they are about giving back.
The difference between corporate social responsibility and socially conscious companies is that the latter incorporates philanthropy and giving back into the core mission of their businesses, not just donating a percent of their sales every year. These companies are established as socially conscious companies from the beginning and partner with organizations with the same values and progressive mindset.
Enter TOMs Shoes ...
Started in 2006, TOMS was founded by Blake Mycoskie, currently the company's "Chief Shoe Giver." He wanted to create the socially conscious company after a trip to Argentina, where he saw children growing up without any shoes. Mycoskie wanted to help in some way, so he decided to start a for-profit company that did not have to rely on donations to be sustainable to make an impact.
The concept of TOMs is that for every pair of shoes sold, one pair of shoes is donated to a child. With more than 10 million shoes sold and donated since 2006, TOMs expanded and added a line of sunglasses to its portfolio of products. With every pair sold, the company pledges to give one person the gift of sight.
TOMs' “One for One” movement has brought shoes to people in more than 60 countries and restored sight to people in 13 countries. Other companies have caught onto this business model and joined the efforts to provide individuals the ability to shop for good with TOMs Marketplace, which launched this week.
Creating a 'Different Way to Shop'
TOMs Marketplace is the next step in the company’s mission to help even more people in need, and it is doing so by joining forces with 30 other brands to provide over 200 products for shoppers to purchase and subsequently give back.
In the Marketplace, you have the ability to shop in a variety of ways:
Shop by a particular cause, including children, education, health, job creation, nutrition and water.
Shop by brand.
Shop by a particular region of the world.
Shop by product type, including jewelry, accessories, bags, apparel, home, tech, and more.
TOMs also has a page for the holiday shopping season called the "Gift Finder," featuring gifts for him and her as well as for "explorers" and fashionistas.
Featuring nonprofits like charity: water and brands like Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company, TOMs has brought the leaders in the socially conscious space together to create a destination for shoppers looking to purchase high-quality products that also make a direct impact on the world.
What benefits do you see of socially conscious companies leveraging products to change the world?