The channel gives generously to causes that resonate deeply
“We live out our values by being the change for a better world.”
– Will Templeton, Director of Global Amway Brand, Amway
Companies in the direct selling channel often have a formal charitable giving program that matches the passion of its distributors. Some programs are founded in a moment of clarity to meet a defining need, such as Pure Romance’s Patty Brisben Foundation.
CEO Chris Cicchinelli says, “My mom and I were at a Denver meeting of cancer survivors as she was going to be the closing speaker. As the medical panel was finishing up and taking questions, a woman stood up and asked, ‘When is my husband going to touch me, hold me, treat me like a woman again?’ This room full of survivors was in tears. And the doctor responded with, ‘You know, you’re just lucky that you’re alive. Sex is a luxury.’
“The woman said, ‘It’s not a luxury to me. This is our relationship. It’s very important to us.’ And I remember my mom leaning over to me and saying, ‘We’re doing something about this when we get back to Cincinnati. Every woman deserves education and resources, to feel comfortable and confident in her own body.’ ”
Cicchinelli adds, “That’s why, over the years, we’ve raised almost $5 million in sexual health grants for hospitals like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, among others.”
This approach is called corporate shared value (CSV). The idea of CSV originated in a 2006 Harvard Business Review article by Harvard professor Michael Porter and Harvard-Kennedy School of Government senior fellow Mark Kramer. In essence, with a corporate shared values approach, companies try to address social problems as a core part of their business strategy.
Dora Lutz, the founder of Giving-Spring.com, a company that helps businesses create corporate giving programs, sums up the CSV approach as a company asking, “How can we engage meaningfully in the community.”
Other direct selling companies look for giving opportunities that align with their products, such as Nu Skin’s Nourish the Children (NTC) program. NTC—which is one segment of a three-part giving strategy—provides VitaMeal, a nutrient dense porridge, on an ongoing basis to numerous charity partners that focus on feeding children.
Heather Cruz, vice president of corporate social responsibility and sustainability, who oversees all the company’s charitable giving initiatives, says, “NTC is a purchase-to-donate program; a for-profit initiative. We’re very careful about saying that it is a for-profit initiative, because the brand affiliates do earn commission from selling it.
“We’ve gone back and forth internally considering whether we should make this purely humanitarian, so there’s nothing (the distributors) get from it, because it’s a hard thing to talk about a charitable effort where you’re getting something from it financially.
“I went through a Harvard class last December on the concept of shared value, and what it digs into is how charitable projects that companies are working on should have benefit to the company as well as a benefit to the people you’re helping,” Cruz says.
“Since then I’ve looked at VitaMeal with a different perspective. Yes, this is a product where they are earning something, but it’s doing a lot of good. It’s feeding a lot of children. So why is it bad that there’s an incentive for them to participate? In some ways it is brilliant that there is an incentive for them. They’re participating, and it’s sustaining itself.”
The NTC program isn’t a one-and-done initiative. The program is focused on certain schools and consistently providing food for those, long term, so that those children receive what is, for many of them, their only meal of the day.
Cruz says, “That’s the thing that I like about the VitaMeal program; meals are consistently going to the same places over and over. This means the effort isn’t like spreading peanut butter super thin everywhere; but is focused and therefore effective. To date 750 million meals have been provided to children in need.”
Nu Skin also provides an opportunity for localized giving to children’s surgery initiatives through commission deductions of 1 percent, as well as a product line with a built-in donation of 25 cents per product purchased going to the charitable initiatives.
More recently, Nu Skin has created the opportunity for top donors to the localized initiatives to self-fund trips to visit the surgery centers and see the hospitals and meet some of the children they’re helping.
Nature’s Sunshine also focuses on creating impact in alignment with its product mission, utilizing the healing power of nature.
“At Nature’s Sunshine, giving back is in our nature and is part of our founders’, Gene and Kristine Hughes, vision for the company,” says CEO Terrence Moorehead. “Our work through the Impact Foundation is dedicated to sharing the healing power of nature with hundreds of thousands of women and children, providing them with essential vitamins, nutrients, and other essentials they need to survive.”
Moorehead says, “I am proud to say that the Impact Foundation has and will continue to make a difference as we help provide opportunities for women and children to live a happy, healthier lives.”
Alignment with Immediate Need
For Rallyware, its charitable giving became intensely personal when part of its staff was suddenly in a war zone. CEO George Elfond says, “This year, Ukraine has dealt with a barbaric war. Being a globally distributed team with staff in the USA, Canada, Spain, Peru, Poland and Ukraine, we have been proud to support not only our team members in Ukraine, but also hundreds of Ukrainians with humanitarian help, relocations, and defensive equipment, securing people’s safety and livelihoods.
“This large-scale crisis has made the Rallyware team stronger than ever before, and we will continue supporting peace and democracy in the world.”
For Pure Romance, In addition to the Patty Brisben Foundation, it has another charitable initiative that is the outgrowth of CEO Cicchinelli’s family’s experience and immediate need: the Living With Change foundation. The foundation helps families with transgender youths. Living With Change has a specialized center at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, with full-time doctors and therapists, as well as research and advocacy programs on site.
The foundation also offers education, medical care and community for families with a transgender youth. Pure Romance’s Consultants can support the foundation through donations, and it has also garnered corporate sponsorship from companies in Ohio and throughout the U.S.
For some companies, their giving is an outgrowth of the legacy the company has created. Will Templeton, director of Global Amway Brand, says, “One of the traits that has always made Amway—‘Amway’—is our commitment to those around us. We live out our values by being the change for a better world. As a company, we embrace this broadly and focus our philanthropic efforts on these three key pillars: Nutrition, Health and Wellness; Empowerment; and Engagement.
“We believe that it is our responsibility to use the best of our business and the passion of our people to impact communities in every market where we do business.”
The company focuses on grant funding priorities and has donated millions of dollars to more than 130 nonprofits as well as empowered its team to be change agents closer to home, near its headquarters in Ada, Michigan. Templeton says, “Clocking more than 2,700 volunteer hours, employees supported 24 projects including outdoor yard maintenance, assembling a playground and packing meals for distribution.”
According to Templeton, Amway’s CEO Milind Pant says it best, “Our founders believed in the potential to help people live better, healthier lives. We are proud to act progressively and move this vision forward in everything we do.”
Health and wellness brand AdvoCare, too, honors a legacy of giving in its charitable efforts. CEO Patrick Wright says, “AdvoCare originated from the phrase ‘Advocates Who Care,’ and we have stayed true to that mantra during our almost 30-year history. We show that we care through donations of time and treasure to our hometown organizations.”
The company also supports the AdvoCare Foundation, which has donated more than $1 million in its first seven years to organizations throughout the U.S. “The AdvoCare Foundation focuses on helping families live happy, healthy, and safe lives,” Wright says. “Through our years-long dedication to helping underserved children and families, we have seen many make incredible progress in their health journeys that will impact generations to come.”
For Ruby Ribbon, a company that began with a comfortable and supportive cami as an alternative to a bra, its charitable initiatives have included the National Breast Cancer Foundation. As its product line has grown to include a more comprehensive line of clothing, the company has added donations to White Pony Express, which helps eliminate hunger and poverty by providing food, clothing, and other items to families in need.
CEO Clint McKinlay says, “Each November, we partner with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to donate thousands of camis to women in acute need. Our products provide comfort and support to women at so many life stages, including a woman’s journey through breast cancer. We are also grateful to be able to make a product donation totaling $450,000 in apparel, including our signature camis, demiettes, skirts, leggings and dresses to White Pony Express.”
Jordan Essentials, a body and skin care company, has a variety of charitable giving programs throughout the year. Marian Smith, director of sales and communications, says, “During the pandemic, our focus was on Feeding America. As a made-in-America company, we felt this was a great fit for our company and our consultants. Feeding America focuses on people, especially children and families, across the country who were faced with a lack of food for healthy meals. With schools being closed, having resources for healthy meals at home was very important, and Feeding America provided an avenue to fill this need.”
Smith adds, “Our field fully embraced this program. I believe they saw how hunger affected people in their own towns and even their own teams. Knowing that by doing what they normally do—have parties and share products—they could make a difference, that made this something our consultants embraced.”
In October, Jordan Essentials supports Breast Cancer Awareness. This year it was through a social media campaign, “Know Your Boo-Bees,” to help educate people about breast cancer and how to be proactive. The company donates a portion of the sales from specific products to breast cancer awareness programs, such as the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
This year, with the stress on educators being a topic of concern in the U.S., the company also partnered with its independent consultants to send Back to School Blessing Boxes to teachers across the country. In less than 48 hours, over 750 teachers were nominated by a consultant or a customer to be blessed with a box.
The nominating consultants/customers donated $5 to help offset shipping costs of sending boxes with over $50 worth of products to teachers via the school, for both personal and classroom use. The total donation this year was $38,500 in product.
Another company that focuses on passion-inspired giving is SeneGence. Founder and CEO Joni Rogers-Kante started her company while juggling the responsibilities of being a single mom and CEO. A few years later she created the Make Sense Foundation as a way to give back to the community by helping women and children in need.
“The Make Sense Foundation Board and I are proud to have donated to the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, N.Y.,” says Make Sense Foundation Chairwoman Rogers-Kante. “We heard of this organization through our Independent Distributor MSF Charity Ambassador Rachel Johnson and found a true alignment in our the mission of this worthy organization and the Make Sense Foundation.
“Breast cancer impacts 1 in 8 women, and there is still much work to be done to eradicate this disease. As a breast cancer survivor, along with many within our sales force, we want to continue to raise awareness, promote early detection, and work toward a cure.”
While much of the funds for the foundation’s grants are raised through specific products that have an amount donated for each sale, there are also commission donations, credit card donations, and fundraising efforts via raffles and other specific sales at distributor events. Distributors who donate at certain levels yearly are recognized by the foundation.
More recently, the foundation has begun offering influential distributors the opportunity to lead fundraising efforts for local agencies as a means of creating even more impact.
Another beauty and skin care brand, Arbonne, has a passion and mission to empower everyone to flourish through sustainable healthy living, both mentally and physically. This aligns with the Flourish Arbonne Foundation’s focus on improving the mental well-being of youth across the globe.
CEO Tyler Whitehead says, “We empower youth to flourish through monetary grant funding via strategic partnerships with leading charities and non-profit organizations in each of the countries we operate in.”
The company and foundation’s multi-country approach contributes to nonprofits in the United States, Canada, and Australia that use positive means to educate youth about mental health and drive new ways to talk about, respond to, and understand mental health struggles through programs such as school chapters and lived-experience speaker presentations.
The company also partners with nonprofits in the United Kingdom and New Zealand that provide direct intervention services such as counseling, support groups, and chat services to youth who are struggling.
Their goal is to raise $10,000,000 to empower 1 million youth by 2030. Whitehead says, “Since 2020, we have already raised over $2.4 million and impacted over 330,527 youth.”
These are just some of the ways that direct selling companies go beyond creating opportunities for people to build an income to help achieve their financial goals. By creating opportunities for distributors to make an impact through charitable giving on a large scale everyone benefits.
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