When we set out to create a social enterprise with the mission of partnering with some of the best non-profit organizations in the world, we knew we had to understand two things: 1. Why exactly we wanted to work towards this mission, and 2. What it means to give first.
In exploring the reasons why we wanted to dedicate so much time, money and effort into this mission it became clear to us that there are some non-profit organizations that are simply great at what they do. They are efficient with their money, they accomplish great goals with very little, and they inspire thousands of people to partner with them and help them accomplish their goals. Take Charity: Water for example. They point out that 1 in 10 people in the world lack access to clean water, and they set out on a mission to solve this problem. They began collecting donations and building wells that have allowed thousands to have lasting clean water access. This all sounds great, but what makes Charity: Water amazing is that 100% of donations go into the field to build wells; not a single penny of donated money goes towards administrative costs. How is that possible? Charity: Water receives separate private donations to cover their administrative costs, so donors know that their money is making the maximum difference, and Charity: Water proves this by being completely transparent with their financial records. There is no other type of organization in the world, including governments and businesses that can say that they make as much as an impact with every dollar that Charity: Water does. Charity: Water’s fiscal accountability, and transparency inspired us to partner with these types of organizations because we could see no better way to change the world than to empower organizations that already do it phenomenally with the resources required to do it more. Non-profit organizations rely on the donations from individuals and businesses to do this type of work, so we could have just given as much of our wages as we could afford to organizations like Chairty: Water, but we knew that entrepreneurship was the vehicle to do more. Businesses create economic growth, and businesses that connect with their customers, tell their story, and provide excellent products, create the best kind of growth. We love businesses that set worthy philanthropic goals and follow through, but we believe that there is so much room for growth in this area. This is why we created Carry Your Cause, to help be part of the solution by partnering with customers who want to make a difference, and who understand that economic growth is the necessary vehicle for creating that lasting change.
The next question we asked ourselves is what does it mean to give first? A few years ago, Cassie and I were at a concert seeing one of our favorite artists. After the show we were browsing the usual merch tables and mingling with other concert goers and the people working these tables. One of the volunteers was registering people for the DKMS bone marrow registry. We began speaking with her and inquiring about the importance of bone marrow donors, and what it means to become one. We learned that she was partnered the Dear Jack Foundation, an organization that supports patients with blood borne cancers and helps them to get the things that they need, while simultaneously supporting their treatment. When you learn how difficult it is to find a bone marrow match you begin to understand how bleak the situation is for those who need a bone marrow donation. We immediately signed up to get on the registry, and although neither of us have been called as a match, we will both gladly be there if we are ever needed. Giving bone marrow is something that will not change the life of the donor, it simply takes a day of your time, but it is likely to save the life of the person who needs your donation. What a powerful thing a person can do for someone; what greater gift can one give than the gift of life? When we considered how to structure our giving for Carry Your Cause, we wanted giving to come first. This is why we don’t examine our profits at the end of an accounting period to determine what we should donate. Instead, we donate for every single sale based on the item that is sold before we even consider any other financial responsibilities. We then look at our ability to give further after the bills have been paid and we support our causes with additional donations based on our ability to give at that time. We designed our business practices around giving first. We also allow our customers the opportunity to choose which causes are most important to them, and then choose where the donation associated with their purchase will go. This is how we partner with our customers to make change. It is easy for someone to start a new business and simply say that they will give, or that they plan to, or that they have a heart for giving, but we wanted to start the business by giving. So, before we ever listed a single item for sale, we gave. We worked in partnership with the Dear Jack Foundation to find out how we could help them. Their director told us that they give care packages to their Life List Warriors, but that they don’t have anything nice to deliver them in. We knew we could help with that problem, so we designed and made Rocco backpacks, co-branded with their logo to give to their life list warriors. We aren’t a business with a ton of funding, we’re just a husband and wife, with two kids who had a dream and decided to follow it. We saved for years to be able to fund this startup, and we know that success in this business will be what allows us to fund real change, but giving is the life blood of Carry Your Cause, and that’s why we started with giving.