There’s an interesting discussion taking place in the prototype forums in the Etsy community. The group having the discussion is one focused on exploring a new marketplace feature which will assist sellers in donating portions of their sales to non-profit organizations. The discussion is focused on openly “advertising” charitable contributions spurred by sales of merchandise. Apparently, the topic had come up on another board and it had been stated that some buyers are actually turned off by donation disclosure because it is seen as a marketing ploy rather than true charity. Another perspective expressed in the prototype discussion that not disclosing support of a non-profit forfeits buyers’ right to opt-out of contributing to a cause they don’t support or may even oppose. A third position states that giving shouldn’t be a public act directly tied to sales and that a truly charitable buyer will give to the cause he or she deems worthy independent of the choice to purchase any item sold anywhere.
Of course there is concern about the integrity of sellers who might claim to support this or that organization or cause for the sake of marketing and increased sales but never fulfill their public pledge. There’s also criticism, although not very articulate, for campaigns like the General Mills’ Pink Lids campaigns, stating that contributing to such campaigns should be possible without the necessity of a purchase. For what it’s worth, General Mills does have several options from which would-be contributors may choose that don’t require the purchase of General Mills products. Hopefully, anyone who hopes to get the warm-fuzzies because they’ve saved and redeemed yogurt lids will research the facts of the campaign and understand that General Mills’ pledge to donate 10 cents for each lid redeemed is capped at $1.5M.
This discussion is very interesting to me, but honestly, I don’t think that it’s relevant to my little shop. Maybe someday, but not today. I’m not quite ready to select an organization to which I am willing to tie my business publicly. The notion of charitable giving through my business, however, is appealing to me… But not through proceeds from sales of my merchandise. The better option for my shop’s philanthropic efforts is the donation of actual merchandise to fundraising events like silent (or not-so-silent) auctions, raffles and awards/prizes. The obstacle I’m facing in regards to this kind of charitable donation, because I haven’t selected a single, specific non-profit or cause, is knowing to whom I should make the donation.
So, at this point, I am researching auctioneers who specialize in services for non-profits and looking into what charity events may be up-coming in my community. Although I am interested in supporting a cause or organization that shares my values and conducts its business in a manner I find ethical and constructive, I believe that true giving comes from the heart, so I also hope to give support where I find an emotional bond. Finding that emotional bond may be something that I find directly, but maybe the most meaningful bond I find will come from your experience with an organization committed to service, education, welfare, research or civil rights (man or beast). I hope that if your life has been positively affected by an organization dedicated to helping others you will share your story with me. I promise that your story will remain confidential unless you give me permission to share it. If the group you nominate is one that is compatible to my goals, my first donation to that group will be made in your name, or in the name of the person you choose (unless you wish to remain anonymous).
If you don’t wish to share your story or nomination in the comments, please, use the form below.
Thanks in advance for helping with this important decision.