Reframing The Buy-1-Give-1 Model For Business And Community Success

Randy Goldberg and David Heath were far from fashion or donation experts. In fact, neither of them had even worked in the fashion industry until 2013. That year, a revelation about homeless shelters prompted them to start the sock business called Bombas. Today, those fashion novices oversee a booming company that has sold millions of pairs of socks while simultaneously giving millions of pairs away to those in need.

The secret to their success can be found in both their innovative product and their growth-promoting business model. 

Changing The World, 1 Sock At A Time

ideaLike most people, Goldberg and Heath thought very little about their socks. But then the duo learned that socks were the most requested item in homeless shelters, and the vast need for something so basic inspired the men to ask, “What can we do to make this better?” It turns out the biggest problem with sock technology was that very few people were asking that question before Goldberg and Heath. 

The pair developed a sock that removed the fussy toe-stitch and added a honeycomb structure that could curve to a person’s foot. With this technology, people in colder climates don’t have to worry about their socks sneaking down their feet and into the toes of their boots because engineers designed each pair to stay put around the heels and legs. The material is also designed to wick away moisture and comes in darker colors to hide stains and grime. 

The sock was designed with the homeless population in mind. It put function and durability over argyle designs and clever sayings. It was the sock to transform all socks for those who needed it the most. And, what’s more, Goldberg and Heath realized their new design would be attractive to the average consumer too. 

That’s when their second idea was born. 

Following the buy-1-give-1 business model made popular by Toms, Goldberg and Heath started Bombas, a sock company that donates 1 pair of durable socks to homeless shelters for every pair purchased. They set a goal to donate their millionth sock by 2025 and beat that in just a matter of years. By winter 2019, the company had donated more than 16 million pairs of socks to homeless shelters across the U.S.

The Power Of Connectivity 

connectivityYou don’t have to be a large-scale business to make big differences. You can get to work in your own community by simply finding a need.

At The Newsletter Pro, we give back every holiday season through our organization Fostering Christmas. We took action when we learned that children who enter the foster care system after Thanksgiving likely won’t receive holiday presents. It started as a simple donation drive in partnership with our local counties. But it’s slowly evolved into a local mission to provide children in foster care with positive holiday experiences. Our goal is to show these kids that we actually Give A Damn. They matter to us, and we want them to know there are people in the community who want to support them. 

And giving a damn about the community you live in can change your business for the better. Studies show that employee satisfaction and engagement improve after company initiatives, both business and community-related. Employee engagement is a powerful component of your company’s success. When you sell your employees on your community involvement, you will find employees who will stay and improve your business. 

What’s more, your name becomes synonymous with something positive that isn’t solely related to your brand. Helping others makes your name known in an unconventional way that doesn’t even have to be related to your business. You’re now the first person people associate with the cause, which makes them more enthusiastic to utilize your services. As long as you do this with authenticity and actually want to help your community, it will make a lasting impact on consumers and your community.

Beyond Socks, Shoes, And Glasses

betterOn the surface, the buy-1-give-1 model is a socially conscious, friendly way to do business. It offers consumers an opportunity to invest in a company that is putting good back into the world. What could go wrong? 

Unfortunately, the buy-1-give-1 model doesn’t actually address the underlying causes of poverty and sickness. Instead, these initiatives offer a Band-Aid-like solution to a recurring, systemic issue. If companies are going to make a real impact and change the world, they need to become more active. 

Companies should look for ways to connect and foster real change within the communities they serve. As Toms — the original buy-1-give-1 company — started to grow, its business leaders saw an opportunity to do more. Donating shoes was a great contribution, but those communities also needed other basic necessities. 

Toms changed their model beyond donating shoes. Now, the company helps develop clean water access points, provides eye care and vision correction, and even donates millions of dollars worth of grants designed to heal the root causes of poverty and other systemic problems. What started as a mission to provide footwear has expanded into a series of effective social programs.

While the buy-1-give-1 model on its own is not sustainable without a real action plan, it can still grow a business and tangibly change lives. Giving back can be 1 of the best decisions you make for your business and your community. 

Just ask yourself the same question Goldberg and Heath asked: How can we make this better?

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