With the dawn of a new year, no matter if you chose to make a New Year’s resolution or not, one thing remains the same: We’re all hoping for a better future. Even if you’re part of the majority of resolutioners who have bailed on their personal goals for 2020 by now, there are steps you can take to help make this world a better place through your company’s swag selections in the coming year.
Through a wide range of partnerships with non-profits and charitable organizations, promotional product purchasers have a growing list of opportunities to support social causes that are close to the hearts of their companies and customers. My eyes were opened recently when I met with our Merchandising Director, Matt Gonzales, to gain an understanding of the types of initiatives marketing, HR, and procurement professionals can contribute to through their custom branded product and apparel choices. Read on to see what I learned.
Military & Veteran Services
Initiatives supporting our current and former armed forces personnel tend to focus on 1-to-1 donations, where a portion of sales proceeds are given directly to one specific organization. Two wonderful nonprofits and their partners are highlighted here.
A portion of sales of all Patriot Tumblers is donated to help support Homes for Our Troops. For the past 15 years, HFOT has worked to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans. According to their website, “Most of these Veterans have sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury. These homes restore some of the freedom and independence our Veterans sacrificed while defending our country, and enable them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives.” See Patriot Tumblers >
Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) provides a variety of programs and services to help veterans and service members who incurred physical or mental injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military on or after September 11, 2001. This program is free for all participants, helping them take the steps to transition back to civilian life in a way that’s unique to their specific needs. Through its newly announced partnership with WWP, Basecamp® has committed to donating $100,000 in 2020 to support their mission. See Basecamp Products >
There are so many worthy environmentally-focused initiatives across the globe that brands within the promotional products sphere often choose to spread the wealth of their donations across multiple organizations. Matt and I talked about two programs like this:
A portion of every MiiR product sale helps support one of 60+ ongoing projects across 26 countries. Their Product to Project® program focuses on clean water, healthy environment, and strong communities initiatives. Each product ships with a Give CodeTM that item recipients can use online to see what specific project their gift supports. They can even receive ongoing progress updates on their item’s initiative if they choose to. See MiiR Drinkware >
Like MiiR’s Product to Project program, 1% for the Planet reaches many environmentally-focused organizations in the U.S. and abroad. According to their website, “Since 2002, 1% for the Planet has helped direct hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofits all over the world.” (😲 #mindblown) Joining the ranks of Honest Tea, Patagonia, and Brushfire Records, EcoSmart® custom branded products proudly donates 1% of sales to their partners in 1% for the Planet’s network. See EcoSmart Products >
Similar to environmental initiatives, swag suppliers who want to support community growth programs sometimes find it easier to work with a single organization that can help support the needs of many.
Since its inception in 1977, product manufactures like 3M and Crayola have worked with NAEIR to provide materials and needed supplies to qualified schools and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States at no charge. Although some companies donate only leftover inventory to the organization, there are many promotional product manufacturers who donate one item to NAEIR for every item purchased. Matt explained the unique arrangement like this, “There is a direct 1:1 commitment that, for every qualifying product sold, an equal number of the same or comparable items are donated by the product manufacturers to NAEIR. NAEIR acts as a conduit to distribute the products to schools, churches, and other non-profit organizations in communities that need the items most.” See Buy One, Give One Products >
Now that you’re armed with the basics of some fantastic programs that help to make our world a better place, where to go from here? Getting started can be as easy as reflecting on your company’s mission or initiatives that speak to your clients most, then using that knowledge to choose the cause(s) you support. The great news is that, as more and more consumers become socially conscious (according to Forbes, that’s 79% of Millennials!), they will expect the same social awareness from the brands they use. As this happens, this list of five will quickly become just the tip of the iceberg.
*This post was updated on January 24, 2020 to reflect Basecamp’s new partnership with Wounded Warrior Project.