It's natural for people - upon hearing that a company donates a portion of its revenues to charity - to question exactly what the impact of such a strategy is. To wonder how much is being raised, and whether or not their purchase is really going to make a difference. Well, there’s one company that answers this question straight out with donation totals displayed right at the top of the page, and it’s awesome.
“We typically won’t do less than $15,000,” said Dale Partridge, CEO of online cause marketplace Sevenly, “...Ever, really.” That number - 15,000 - isn’t raised yearly or even monthly, but weekly and it’s often much higher than that.
The idea is simple, but has proven overwhelmingly effective: Each week Sevenly partners with a new non-profit and $7 from every sale goes toward supporting it.
“We weren’t called to the field,” Partridge said, explaining how the idea came to be, “But we felt really called to the people called to the field.” After starting five other companies and searching for a more fulfilling experience than profit alone, Partridge began thinking of ways to blend value and meaning. He did some research and was surprised to find that there were thousands of charities out there, all doing great work but struggling nonetheless. “Dozens of these guys are closing their doors every day,” he said, “and it’s not for lack of passion.” It was funding. Funding, and attention. Sevenly became a means of funneling those two life giving resources to the people who could make the most out of them.
They do this by selling custom shirt designs for every cause, hand drawn in house and produced right here in the U.S. under the strictest sustainability guidelines. Shoppers also have a chance to multiply their social impact by buying any of more than 250 other products from various socially beneficial brands. Just three years ago Sevenly existed as nothing more than an idea. But already they’ve backed dozens of causes. From the humane treatment of animals to the end of human trafficking Sevely’s supported it all. A weeklong campaign for 4 Paws for Ability raised $31,434 to support the placement of service dogs with disabled children. A campaign for Autism Speaks raised seven times that. All told more than a hundred campaigns have been run so far and nearly three million dollars donated.
It hasn’t been easy.
“Logistically it’s crazy,” Partridge said, “non-stop work.” New designs must be drawn up every week, along with pictures taken, ads created, and campaigns tracked. Products are ordered 24/7, and the whole thing starts anew every single Monday. At one point Partridge worked more than two hundred days straight. “Now,” he said, “we get weekends off, sometimes.” All the work isn’t without it’s benefit though. Theres the obvious reward of supporting so many good causes, but it also provides a formidable competitive advantage.
“We never worried much about competition because we doubt anyone else has the stamina we do.”
As the company grows they’ve begun putting systems in place to ease the workload. In the coming years Sevenly aims to be the world’s largest online cause-marketplace. A mix between Fab and Kickstarter. A place where you can get the things you want from the brands you love, and support a great cause while doing it. Check ‘em out here to find out more.
CONSCIOUS CAPITALISTS is an ongoing series of profiles of for-profit social entrepreneurs on CATALYST.
Ethan is a Contributing Writer for MISSION.tv, a traveler and an entrepreneur. In addition to writing for CATALYST, and SocialFinance.CA he blogs about all sorts of things over at An American Afoot. His recent work focuses on people who are using business to change the world for the better. Always interested in new and fascinating stories, he can be reached via twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org