How Does Your Startup Pay it Forward?

August 25, 2021

The Village is all about paying it forward. Whether we are attending Community Bucket’s Tech Gives Back days or giving the proceeds of Pitch Atlanta to Girls Who Code, we are here to make Atlanta a better place for all people. 

We’ve all seen the ads with purpose, the ones that give you a cause, and if you’re anything like me you will end up on their website ordering something that you may or may not need. Studies show that consumers are 87% more likely to shop from a brand with purpose. People are more likely to show “brand love” if they see the cause, that means free marketing for your brand & product. “Beyond positive word of mouth, consumers of purpose-driven companies are taking their megaphones to social media. 68% percent of Americans say they are more willing to share content from Purpose-driven companies with their social networks over that of traditional companies.”

Be sure you are acting on your beliefs. Some examples of companies that have stood behind their mission and beliefs are MAC Cosmetics, Patagonia, and REI. In 1994, as HIV and AIDS continued to spread across the globe, M·A·C made HIV/AIDS organizations the beneficiaries of the company’s charitable focus and the M·A·C AIDS Fund was created. To date, the VIVA GLAM campaign has raised over $450 million for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Patagonia has pledged to donate the $10 million they saved due to tax cuts to environmental groups. In 2018, REI launched it’s #optoutside campaign where they announced they would no longer be open on Black Friday. When announced, REI stated that “For #OptOutside, all of our 12,000+ employees will be paid to take time off and be with family and friends. We’re asking each to take someone they love who might not get outside as much with them.”

Purpose should flow from the bottom up. Even in startup world when you have a small team, you can get employee buy-in by getting them directly involved. Encourage them to bring their ideas to the table and grow the grassroots movement that you are getting behind as an organization. When an entire startup team is passionate about something, it becomes clear to your customers that you truly want to pay it forward and do good. 

Give up your voice. Sometimes the people who will speak the most authentically about your brand are the people that it has impacted, not necessarily the people who created it. As your company grows, you will see that not everyone is going to agree with you and that’s okay. Be authentic and stand for what you believe in, even in the face of criticism. What does your company believe in and how are you backing up your Pay It Forward initiative? 

August 25, 2021
Hilton Thompson