I’ve been advising people about their philanthropy for over a decade. In person and through this blog I’ve always encouraged them to go beyond giving money to charity and think about all the assets they can bring to the table, and how they can especially use their power as investors and consumers to bring about the changes they want to see in the world.
Philanthropy as we have known it for the past few decades has been about giving money. But as we progress in the 21st century, I believe it will be about spending money: people are becoming more aware every day that we are shaping ourselves and the world around us by voting with our pocketbooks everyday.
The evidence is everywhere:
- The exploding local food and “slow food” movements, rejecting the agro-industrial complex in favor of healing the economic, environmental and social health of our communities;
- The growing fair trade movement, which provides fair wages and working conditions for workers and prevents the exploitation that often accompanies the production of cheap goods for consumption in the US;
- The call echoing out from Occupy Wall Street for conscientious citizens to move their money from big commercial banks to local community banks, personified in the Move Your Money campaign;
- The surveys that show that consumers want to purchase from socially responsible companies;
- The growing voices of Millennials looking to work for socially responsible companies, or better yet, that want to start their own;
- The expanding corps of investment advisers who specialize in “socially responsible investing” or “impact investing” a market estimated to grow to over $500 Billion in invested assets in the next 5 to 10 years;
- The rise of services like Moxy Vote, which help you vote your values on any shareholder resolutions that come before companies whose stocks are in your investment portfolio
In addition to these trends, maybe you have heard the term “collaborative consumption,” which is being used to describe an emerging approach to people and their stuff–an approach based on borrowing, renting, sharing and accessing rather than owning outright. Early examples include Netflix for DVDs, car sharing services such as ZipCar or iGo, and more recently the peer to peer travel booking site Airbnb, and for designer gowns, Rent the Runway.
I’m so drawn to the concept of collaborative consumption, I am excited to tell you that I have launched my own social enterprise, one that applies the concept of collaborative consumption to an industry out of control: parenting.
Good Karma Clothing for Kids is a subscription baby clothing service that provides busy, socially conscious parents with like-new baby clothes in sizes newborn through 24 months so they don’t have to spend a fortune keeping up with fast growing little bodies.
We send a bundle in the size the baby is now, they wear, wash, enjoy, then send them back in the prepaid, reusable shipping bag when they need to exchange them for the next size up. We only use environmentally- and baby-friendly Selestial Soap to further reduce the environmental impact of the clothing, and we turn stained, ripped or worn out clothes into “upcycled” hand-made bibs, baby quilts or stuffed animals.
Our web site is live and we are now in our public beta. Check it out at www.goodkarma.co