Today's blog post is a guest post from our friends at SHE Changes Everything.
Image via SHE Changes Everything (L to R: SHE co-founders Jennifer Klotz, Lindsey Raymond, Janice Hamm, and Heather Young)
Are you making purchases that support a good cause or give back? Can we totally high five? Here at SHE Changes Everything, we're huge fans of making sustainable, healthy, ethical choices —especially when you shop!
It's so encouraging to us to see a growing number of companies, like Fashion & Compassion, that are on a mission to do good AND make a positive impact in the world! It’s also something that more and more consumers are demanding (hurray!).
But with so many socially conscious companies popping up, it can be hard to know which ones to support. So as you travel along on your socially conscious journey, we want to encourage you to watch out for something called “cause-washing.”
Cause-Washing happens when companies use marketing to claim social impact, when in fact, there is no social impact.
We know it’s crazy and it’s definitely misleading, but there are people that do it! That’s why we’ve put together six ways to avoid supporting companies and brands that aren’t having a real and powerful impact:
- LOOK FOR SPECIFICS. Companies should list their cause-related goals and mission very specifically. If you’re only seeing general, emotionally manipulative language, they might not be legitimate. They should also be linked to an actual non-profit or organization that’s helping them do the work. Claims that a company “gives eyeglasses to low-income Africans,” without explaining how that happens is a major red flag.
- LOOK FOR NUMBERS. When you see stories of people or communities being helped, but no numbers or specifics of how or when that's being done, that’s another red flag. Story-telling is powerful, but it’s also easy to fake. So make sure to look for companies that back up their stories with real numbers and real results.
- LOOK FOR REAL INFORMATION. If a company has a link to an organization they support or their social-related work, check the link! We can’t tell you how many times we’ve clicked a link to learn about a company’s social claims only for it to go nowhere.
- LOOK FOR CONSISTENCY. Unfortunately, one of the worst “frauds” we see is a company that says it does something good…but only does it once. For example, a company that supports education, but has only built one school in the last 10 years and keeps showing you the same building and sharing the same stories is another red flag. Companies passionate about social good want to grow and do more, not ride a single success from the past. Look for ongoing results.
LOOK FOR GOOD REVIEWS AND LISTINGS. If a company tells you it is partnering with a non-profit and giving a portion of your purchase to it, check it out! At a minimum, you should at least Google the non-profit and see if something comes up. There are lots of tools for checking out if a non-profit is legitimate or not. Here are a handful of our favorites:
- GoodGuide.com: This site rates products on a scale of 0 to 10 for their health, environmental and social impact. It's awesome!
- BBB Wise Giving Alliance: This organization provides you with detailed information on hundreds of nonprofits.
- GreatNonprofits.org: Here, you'll find firsthand reviews by a nonprofits' clients, volunteers and stakeholders.
- Charity Checklist | Federal Trade Commission: This site is full of useful advice, designed to help you determine whether a charity you’re considering supporting is genuine.
- LOOK FOR A FOCUS ON CHANGE, NOT CHARITY. One of the worst things we can do is support a company that has good intentions, but no real impact or change on the population or community it's intending to serve. You can read more about Fashion & Compassion’s co-founder, Michele Dudley’s expereince in her blog, “Aid That Hurts, Aid That Heals: Find The Difference” on the SHE website. (While you’re there, also be sure to check out our fun interview with her and the other co-founder, Celeste Bundy!)
After starting her own socially conscious venture and doing tons of research, Michele was shocked to learn that "foreign aid and charity often do more harm than good…aid often leads to corruption and dependence, rather than self-sufficiency and independence.”
The best companies to support openly acknowledge that there is a difference. And although it is hard to find the most effective aid, it’s a worthy struggle the best companies engage in — and openly talk about.
We firmly believe that you can find amazing companies just like Fashion & Compassion that create real impact and positive social change through their business models.
In fact, for the next 4 days (Thursday, August 25th – Sunday, August 28th), Fashion & Compassion is teaming up with SHE Changes Everything to support one of our favorite organizations, Refuge for Women!
Refuge for Women provides long-term care for women who have escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation. They offer safe housing with 24-hour-a-day staffing.
The program is designed to help women recognize their goals in life and assist them in reaching those goals, while helping them heal. That’s huge!
And Fashion & Compassion has generously offered to donate an additional 10% of all sales through Sunday, August 28th to Refuge for Women.
Just use the code SHEEMPOWERS so they can track your order AND give you FREE SHIPPING* (awesome!).
Your purchases can make such a huge difference to so many people. To make sure that happens, you just have to stay savvy and take a few extra moments to confirm the claims.
Then you can rest easy knowing that your purchases will continue doing a world of good!
- The SHE Changes Everything Team
*Free Shipping applies to standard rates only. Offer is valid from 12:01am EST on Thursday, August 25th, 2016 - 11:59pm EST on Sunday, August 28th, 2016.