Thursday, April 19, 2007

Buy (Less)

I am not opposed to the idea of donating part of the profits to help boost sales, but I haven't been a fan of (RED). There were some thoughtful comments recently on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. Don't miss the comments either...
What’s wrong with all of this ostensible “corporate generosity”? First, it is self-serving, further diminishing true altruism in the corporate world. We live in a society where values are threatened, and avarice and greed need to be better balanced by a sense of the greater good – the commonweal. If values erode further in the market, nonprofits and the rest of us are all in deeper trouble. Second, all of us need to understand that, in the words of Buy(Less), shopping is not a solution. We cannot consume our way to charity and to a better world. Doing good sometimes requires sacrifice, and we ought not allow ourselves to be convinced that we’ve done our part because of the color of what we use. Third, we generally don’t know how much goes to the cause and how much goes to profit for each sale or in the aggregate; there is no true transparency or accountability. What do direct and secondary benefits add up to for the corporation? Are charities being fairly compensated for those benefits? Fourth and last, we need to remember that there really is a profound difference between doing well and doing good. To the degree that we confuse the two, we substitute ourselves for the other and are diminished rather than enriched.

Check out Buy (Less).


bogart said...

Well.. Doing well is not doing good. And I agree. On the other hand you could argue that who works in the non profit sector should do it voluntarily and no on a renumerated basis.

There is no doubt that corporations donate for tax deduction reasons and because it makes them look good. It's a surrogate of paying for marketing ( actually double that, as they pay marketing to organise the campaign and renounce to some profits.)

I got recently interested in microfinance and to me, to realise these project cooperating with banks and being backed by them defeats the point of it all. I asked the same question to the CEO of Opportunities International and
he pointed out that without the help of the banks the all project would have only reached and helped, a smaller amount of people.
And probably I have to agree with this to.

Pavlusha34 said...

Banks can do good things. I have learned a lot by discussions about the Bottom of the Pyramid and the role of business in development. I think there are some convincing arguments, thought it doesn't mean that markets solve every problem, as if I needed to mention that to you.