Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly important in consumers' shopping decisions.
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Does your business give back? Social responsibility has become all but a requirement for companies looking to appeal to consumers who are focused on doing good in the world. Many studies have indicated that shoppers are willing to switch brands to support companies that contribute to a social cause, and this trend hasn't gone unnoticed in the business world.
"Businesses need to adapt a mentality of what I call "corporate karma" – supplying the world with the demands of tomorrow and allowing the world to give back in return," said Mayer Dahan, CEO of Prime Five Homes, a sustainable housing company. "When you engage in enterprises that are beneficial to communities and the world at large, business will flow in and you will reap the benefits of your positive actions."
Companies that practice social responsibility as part of their business model prove that no matter how large or small the contribution is, any act of corporate philanthropy goes a long way, both for the cause and the company. These 15 for-profit startups are just a few of the countless examples of successful socially responsible companies.
Accessibility Partners – Many people take their computers, smartphones and tablets for granted, but for those with disabilities, using these technologies can present significant challenges. Accessibility Partners works with private and public IT manufacturing companies, federal agencies and other organizations to test and review products that make information technology accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities. More than 70 percent of the company's employees have disabilities themselves, so the company promotes disability advocacy in all of its operations.
Altered Seasons – Kelly Reddington founded his eco-friendly candle company Altered Seasons in 2003 at age 14 with the help of his mother. When he assumed ownership of the company, he shifted it to a one-for-one model to do more for the community. For every candle sold, Altered Seasons provides a meal to an American in need through Feeding America.
Children Inspire Design – Artist and mother Rebecca Peragine began selling her whimsical wall art, cards and posters to promote environmental education for children. In addition to using recycled materials, eco-friendly inks and biodegradable packaging for Peragine's original designs, Children Inspire Design sells handcrafted paper ornaments made by a women's cooperative in Mexico, and a special poster whose full proceeds go to Future Fortified.
Cole and Parker – This Canada-based sock company does more than just sell colorful footwear. Through its partnership with microfinance organization Kiva, Cole and Parker donates proceeds from every sock sale to a fund that is used to provide small loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Do Good Buy Us – The mission of Do Good Buy Us is to sell "goods that do good." This e-commerce website is dedicated to changing consumerism by selling products made by organizations that support social causes. Additionally, 50 percent of the company's proceeds go toward fighting poverty, hunger, disease and other global issues.
Headbands of Hope – After a life-changing internship at the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Jessica Ekstrom decided she wanted to continue helping children with life-threatening illnesses by starting her own business. Her company, Headbands of Hope, sells made-in-the-U.S. headbands and donates a dollar of each sale to childhood cancer research through the St. Baldrick's Foundation, as well as a headband to a child fighting cancer.
HERO|farm – Founded by two laid-off advertising executives, HERO|farm is a social mission-focused marketing and design agency whose philosophy is "Do great work for good people." The duo behind HERO|farm made the decision to work with socially responsible companies after realizing how beneficial and impactful advertising can be when a company has an admirable mission. HERO|farm also does at least one pro bono campaign per year for a nonprofit organization.
Image Outfitters – Since its launch in 1998, promotional products manufacturer Image Outfitters has made annual donations to local charities. Last year, the company changed its sales model after seeing how adversely affected these organizations were due to the economic downturn. Through its proprietary platform, iShare, 10 percent of the total sale amount for new customer orders is donated to the charities of the customer's choice.
Juntos Shoes – This ethically conscious fashion startup designed a shoe inspired by traditional Ecuadorean canvas shoes. For each pair sold, Juntos Shoes donates a supply-filled backpack to an at-risk Ecuadorean child to help him or her participate more fully and effectively in school.
Mirage Spa and Recreation – Hot tubs are a big-ticket item. That's why Mirage Spa and Recreation is able to encourage so many of its customers to take part in the company's philanthropic initiatives: Customers receive 15 percent off their purchase when they bring in food, pet supplies or personal care items for Mirage to donate to a local food pantry.
Nicklaus Companies – Legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus founded Nicklaus Companies, a global business which focuses on marketing, licensing and the design of golf courses worldwide. Recently, Nicklaus and business partner Howard Milstein released a line of golf balls to be sold online and at Nicklaus Design courses, with a percentage of all proceeds to benefit the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. Customers receive a discount for purchasing online, but have the option to make up the difference from the retail price by donating to the foundation.
Out of Africa – Customers of cosmetics company Out of Africa do more than just purchase high-quality shea butter skin care products – they also help improve the quality of life for West African women and children. A portion of the company's proceeds is donated to organizations that provide education and medical care to children, and the company regularly donates to women's cooperatives that create jobs in West Africa.
PopNod – When people shop online at one of PopNod's partner stores, they earn cash back that can be donated in varying amounts to the cause of their choice. With nearly 100 causes to support and more than 250 major retailers in categories such as apparel, electronics, beauty and entertainment, there's a partner store and cause for every consumer.
Prime Five Homes – Homes built by Prime Five Homes aren't your typical houses. Each of these modern, sustainable homes is equipped to use less energy, gas and water, so buyers know they're moving into a property that's better for the environment. A portion of all sales goes to the company's nonprofit arm, the Dream Builders Project, which provides services and monetary donations to select charities.
SurveyMonkey – SurveyMonkey is best known for its easy-to-use survey creation software, but the company's nationwide survey service, Audience, was created as a way to give back to deserving causes across the country. Instead of offering cash and prizes to survey takers, SurveyMonkey donates 50 cents per survey completion to the taker's charity of choice. In 2013, the company has donated more than $1 million to organizations such as the Humane Society, Boys and Girls Club of America, and Teach for America.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.