Friday, April 3, 2009

What is for-profit philanthropy, and more importantly, why?

Peters Path was recently fortunate enough to be featured in an insightful and entertaining blog called Triple Pundit, for a series on philanthropy. The article focused on profitable philanthropy and talked about how many companies engage this model later in their business plans as a reaction to consumer demand or to remain viable in a market that's shifting toward corporate consciousness and social responsibility, but highlighted Peters Path as a company that was actually established on this model.

This got us thinking about the concept in general and how the fashion industry plays a part. It also made us realize not many people know about the concept at all. In fact, people often say, "why don't you just give money to charity instead of forming a company to do it?" So, I thought I would explain our philosophy and the difference between us and some of the big brands that are considered for-profit philanthropers.

Companies like Ben & Jerry's, The Body Shop and even Gap, with its (PRODUCT) RED campaign, which no doubt have altruistic characteristics, were not founded for the purpose of giving. These companies engaged in philanthropic endeavors later and have now become known for their compassionate consumerism--something Peters Path set out to do from the beginning.

We knew we had the passion and motivation to do the work it took to establish the company. But some may wonder if this model, while nobel, is sustainable and relevant. As Triple Pundit points out, experts say it is. They site a study by Cone revealing that the move toward cause branding and corporate responsibility indicates an evolution in consumer thinking about the ways businesses interact with society, and that an overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) say they would switch to a more socially conscious company's products or services, making this a competitive differentiator--and critical market advantage--as well.

We look at this as a great sign that, even in a down economy, people are socially consious and care about philanthropy. We also know the reality is, it's hard to continually donate money to charities. That's why we believe our company is truly making a difference. By creating an opportunity for people to "shop for social good", we offer a sustainable source for recurring contributions. We realize the ongoing potential for charitable giving by offering customers a way to give through compassionate consumerism. We knew we wanted to help various charities more immediately than we could do through sometimes tedious grant applications or donor solicitation, which may result in small, one-time donations.

Our passion is what drove us to create this company. We want to make a difference and we want our customers to help us with their share love of fashion. Passion Fueled Fashion! That's what it's all about.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,

    It is very refreshing to read about the philosophy and actions behind Peter's Path. Your sincerity and gracious frame of mind is not always shared by the competitive fashion business owners...

    (I found you because you are a Twitter friend, and you sent me a link! Please contact me at when you get a chance. I would love to speak with you about featuring you and Peter's Path! Interested in answering some interview questions?)