Make 2017 The Year of Giving Back

06/01/2017

Money can’t buy happiness … unless you spend it on others. Well, that is according to numerous studies that have shown giving to other people or to charity/causes will put a much bigger smile on your face than spending on yourself.

Indeed, did you know that when you donate your time, expertise or money, your brain acts in a similar way to when you are having sex or eating chocolate?

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“Thanks to MRI technology, researchers are able to see brain activity when certain acts are taken and in a study on charitable giving when people donated to a worthy cause, the midbrain region of the brain lit up,” says American charity strategist, professor and writer Brady Josephson.

“This is the area of the brain that is responsible for our cravings (food and sex) and pleasure rewards, showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure.”

Thus, in a way, we are actually being both selfish and selfless by giving to others.

Businesses and brands everywhere have the resources and reach to provide a major positive impact in their communities and beyond.

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Whether it’s by supporting a charity, getting involved in an eco or sustainability initiative, volunteering services or teaching skills to those deserving, sponsoring an event that will benefit a worthwhile cause – the list goes on – participating in acts of “giving back” has extensive benefits for a business well beyond the obvious cause.

A philanthropically-minded business or brand (and this doesn’t necessarily mean throwing wads of cash around) will reap benefits from this mindset, including positive PR, high employee morale/engagement and improved connections — all areas that can aid in long-term profits.

The gestures do not have to be gigantic, but when the heart is in the right place, abundance follows.

One prominent benefit of a business giving back is the response from its employees. Typically, if they see that their employer is committed to good works, they will gain more respect for them. A work environment with a highly respected leader results in more communication and efficiency, since morale is likelier to be improved in a work environment where the leader is trusted and respected.

Similarly, if an employer gives their employees an opportunity to give back, they will feel more fulfilled in their work.

According to business philanthropy consultant Erin Giles, the ability to volunteer provides employees with leadership opportunities that can increase staff performance and provide a better sense of fulfillment.

People love feel-good stories, so it’s easier for a business to use giving back as an incentive to appear in news outlets positively, especially if it’s a public gesture like sponsoring a local charitable event or holding a free workshop for the underprivileged.

Positive news has a tendency of being shared rampantly on social media, which on a local Facebook group can be a fantastic way for a business to gain exposure in addition to becoming a well-respected presence in the community, resulting in more clients, profits and overall connections.

Philanthropy can be a wonderful gateway into a network of professionals and leads alike that can help elevate a business from obscurity to prolific success.

Similarly, giving to their local community can provide a business with connections to local leaders who can rapidly make a business the local “go-to” for that specific niche with their endorsement.

Charitable giving in Australia has grown significantly in the last 12 months, buoyed by reduced levels of consumer anxiety, according to recent research by National Australia Bank.

The NAB’s bi-annual Charitable Giving Index showed overall giving to charity grew by 6.5 per cent over the year to February 2016, up from just 2.4 per cent a year earlier.

The Giving Index showed that the average donation size across all charities actually grew by $12 to $348 per donor, with average annual donation size increasing in all states except Western Australia, and all age groups except 15 to 24-year-olds.

There are all sorts of ways, big and small, to give back. It might be backing a cause in your local community or supporting a brand you stock with their philanthropic, environmental or social awareness campaigns. We take a look at a few examples:

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

Taking no more than you need, not being wasteful of resources and replenishing them where possible, as well as exercising mindfulness about how you dispose of things no longer required, are powerful contributions, especially in terms of the environment.

oil-spills

Who would have thought those random bits of hair trimmed every few weeks or months could make such a massive difference to clearing up oil spills and thus protecting the animal life endangered by them

Collecting cut-off hair from salon floors, that otherwise would end up in landfill, can now support causes such as oil spill clean-up projects, community gardens and charitable wig-making services.

That’s one of the many initiatives offered by Sustainable Salons Australia, a revolutionary resource recovery program designed  for salons to achieve zero waste, reduce their carbon footprints and implement sustainable work practices that benefit local communities.

SSA was founded by Paul Fresca and Ewelina Soroko, also co-founders of the award-winning sustainable foil brand Refoil, and student paper The Mane Edition, aimed at enthusing, guiding and inspiring young and upcoming hairdressers.

Paul, a hairdresser for more than 20 years who spent most of his career travelling the world styling an elite clientele, is also a director on the board of the Australian Hairdressing Council, responsible for improving environmental practices in the industry.

Ewelina is a sustainability expert who, prior to starting SSA and Refoil, was consulting to European fashion brands in environmentally responsible production processes and recyclability of their garments.

“Our research showed that the industry is suffering from a major waste problem,” Paul and Ewelina say. “Salons send an estimated one million kilos of foil, 500,000 kg of colour tubes and 400,000 kg of hair to landfill yearly.

“The recycling facilities offered to salons are limited, causing many waste materials to pollute waterways and contaminate our soil.

“SSA is the solution to the salon waste problem. We are an industry first-and-only resource recovery service committed to:

  • Reducing a salon’s ecological footprint by implementing environmentally-sustainable practices
  • Achieving zero waste by collaborating on re-use solutions
  • Supporting charitable cause
  • Keeping people, planet and profit in mind with every business decision made.

“We believe that if we as an industry come together and share a common goal of zero waste we can make a change that will have a positive outcome for future generations, the environment and our industry as a whole.

“We’re not affiliated with any international bodies and our concept is unique to the salon industry. The SSA model is also designed to be a sustainable business. It doesn’t rely on Government support.

“However, we believe that co-operation with industry leaders is important to educate all stakeholders in the importance of developing the industry in a sustainable way. So we are always open to new partnerships.”

SSA provides members with a customised bin installation to get the salon set up and a regular door-to-door pick up service. The salons are rewarded by being able to redeem earned points for products, tools and/or services that benefit the business bottom line, the community and the planet.

“We provide education and the right marketing tools to communicate the newly- implemented policy to their clients and potential customers,” Ewelina says.

“The education we provide goes beyond the salon environment, though. It’s about taking a stance in life, not being afraid to care, which means changing habits and everyday behaviours in order to give future generations a fair go.”

“We’re not affiliated with any international bodies and our concept is unique to the salon industry. The SSA model is also designed to be a sustainable business. It doesn’t rely on Government support.

“However, we believe that co-operation with industry leaders is important to educate all stakeholders in the importance of developing the industry in a sustainable way. So we are always open to new partnerships.

Once a salon becomes a member of SSA they become part of an holistic scheme that supports their goals in achieving environmental sustainability, community engagement and business growth.

“We provide members with a customised bin installation to get the salon set up and a regular door-to-door pick up service,” Ewelina says.

“The salons are rewarded by being able to redeem earned points for products, tools and/or services that benefit the business bottom line, the community and the planet.

“We provide education and the right marketing tools to communicate the newly- implemented policy to their clients and potential customers.

“The education we provide goes beyond the salon environment, though. It’s about taking a stance in life, not being afraid to care, which means changing habits and everyday behaviours in order to give future generations a fair go.”

TREE CHANGE

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Through their ongoing partnership with award-winning global tree planting organisation Trees for the Future, Éminence Organics skincare is planting trees in 19 developing countries, including Burundi, Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania in Africa.

Agroforestry provides families with the education and tools to create their own tree nurseries.

The profits allow them to support their basic needs, while also benefitting the environment and fighting deforestation.

And planting a viable, indigenous tree in a non-harvest location for every retail-sized emerginC skincare product sold at last count had “given birth” to over 500,000 trees!

SUSTAINABILITY SUPERSTARS

sustainability-superstars

Along with its tree planting initiative, emerginC is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

Its New York headquarters is run on 100 percent wind power and 80 percent of its products are manufactured with same (by the by, the team grows herbs, fruit and veggies and keeps chooks on the roof terrace!).

The brand has partnered with CARBONFUND.ORG to reduce its carbon footprint. For instance, brochures and product boxes and manufactured with paper from sustainably managed forests, shopping bags are made with 100 percent biodegradable stone paper, non-toxic vegetable inks are used to print.

Orders are packed with reusable and biodegradable shipping peanuts and sent via UPS’ carbon neutral shipping option.

By enlisting wind and solar power energy in the making of products, recyclable packaging with vegetable-based inks, geothermal heating in the laboratory and an eco-alternative design of the head office, Éminence Organics skincare also does all it can to combat climate change and its fallout.

Another skincare house committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility is Babor, the iconic 60-year-old German brand.

“In response to our shrinking planet problems, these values are more highly emphasised by BABOR,” says Jenny Millar, Babor Australia’s sales and brand manager.

“Eighty percent of our raw materials are of purely natural origin. Since 2006, Babor has had its own plantation of wild service trees.

“The solar panels on the roof of the Aachen HQ in Germany produces renewable energy and it has been paper-free since 2011, saving 30,000 sheets of paper a year.

“Importantly, Babor never has, and never will, conduct animal testing.  The modern consumer wants to know that the products they are using have been sourced ethically, and are not only paraben-free but but have not been tested on animals.

The owner of Australian certified organic skincare ranges Sanctum and Organicspa, Cawarra has installed a self-sufficient solar system in all five factories at its Billinudgel headquarters in the Byron Shire of northern NSW.

The customised system from Tweed Heads-based company SAE allows them to produce enough electricity to power their factories during daylight hours without relying on the grid.

“Rather than feeding power back to the grid and receiving compensation on energy bills, it means we literally produce and consume our own electricity independent of the grid,” says owner Greg Milham.

“Despite a cloudy sky, Cawarra’s first day with the panels saw enough solar energy produced to power the entire facility, with a surplus of 60.9KW donated back to the grid.”

Now the business can proudly claim that every piece of machinery – including air conditioners, filtration machines, tube fillers, heated mixing vats, lighting and even two forklifts – is powered by the sun.

BODY SHOCK

faby-brookefaby-logo

Every year, approximately a million Australians suffer from an eating disorder. It’s the most misunderstood mental illness in Australia yet equates to the highest fatality rate compared with other mental illnesses.

During the month of May, The Butterfly Foundation’s Mayday for Eating Disorders campaign aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of this issue and funds for research and improved treatment and prevention services.

By starting a conversation around the causes and effects of eating disorders, The Butterfly Foundation – dedicated to bringing about change to the culture, policy and practice in the prevention, treatment and support of those affected by eating disorders and negative body image – aims to remove the stigma associated with this mental illness; to create a society that celebrates individualism, healthy lifestyles and encourage positive body image.

Faby Nails teamed up with The Butterfly Foundation for the first time in 2014, inviting interested businesses, celebrities and individuals to paint their middle finger – “flipping the bird” – during the month of May as a symbol against negative body image and the devastating fallout it can cause.

The Don’t Dis My Appearance awareness campaign was fronted by celebrities such as Brooke Satchwell (pictured above) and Andrew O’Keefe. Faby donated 100 percent of profits from retail and online sales of selected nail lacquers sold during the month.

All funds raised for the Mayday campaign goes towards better prevention and treatment services and greater community education on the devastating impact eating disorders has on sufferers, their families and the community.

IN THE PINK

skeyndor-pack

Skeyndor Australia has partnered with the Thinkpink Foundation and The Living Centre, launching a new campaign Wear Pink to Think Pink.

The ongoing collaboration aims to raise awareness and vitally needed funds to contribute to the mission and generously support the tireless work and exceptional team at The Living Centre.

The Living Centre has created many programs and unique services to walk every step of the way breast cancer patients and their loved ones, to improve their experiences and journey overall.

Many of The Living Centre programs, such as Day of Indulgence or Blokes and Families have, up until now, not been available through our healthcare system or other support centres.

The first of many Skeyndor projects to come, the Wear Pink to Think Pink campaign donates all profits from the sale of its Think Pink Beauty Pack (containing Hydra Glam Extreme Glossy Lip Crayon and
Age Defence CC Cream SPF30) to The Living Centre.

SAVING THE CHILDREN 

eminence_kids_foundation15

A childhood battle with leukaemia has made a lifelong impression on Boldijarre Koronczay, for more than the obvious reasons.

The president of Éminence Organics skincare attributes a large part of his recovery to his mother’s insistence on bringing him home-prepared meals throughout his treatment based on all- organic ingredients, instead of eating hospital food.

“My first-hand experience of a childhood disease is what drives my passion to help kids going through similar health challenges,” says Boldijarre.

“We are proud to contribute to children’s hospitals in different areas of the world to make a difference in children’s lives.”

Helping children in need is an important cause that is near and dear to the hearts of both the staff and owners of Éminence. Boldijarre remains in close contact with the Bethesda Children’s Hospital in Budapest, Hungary, that saved his life and does as much as he can to support it.

For instance, Boldijarre and his brother Attila Koronczay, general manager of Éminence, donated two mobile IV chemotherapy machines to the hospital in 2013. These give sick children the mobility to play and interact with their family and friends.

The company contributes to many different charitable organisations every year and is a proud supporter of the BC [British Columbia] Children’s Hospital Foundation in Vancouver, Canada, where the Hungarian-born Koronczay brothers now live.

As part of Éminence’s dedication to improving sick children’s lives, the company launched an initiative called Éminence Kids. It was introduced in Budapest in 2013, set in motion with the donation of the mobile chemotherapy machines.

In addition, Organic Days, a weekly delivery of locally-sourced organic produce to aid in the recovery of the sick children, was introduced to the Bethesda.

Éminence Kids was launched in Vancouver in 2014, the event attended by staff and distributors from around the globe, including Australian distributor Tamara Hart. Organic Days have also been introduced to children and their families at the Ronald McDonald House BC.

As part of the overall initiative, a portion of every Éminence product sold is donated to helping sick children and supporting their families.

“I know how living an organic lifestyle can contribute positively to a person’s health,” says Boldijarre. “Natural and organic diets and remedies can have an incredible impact on the immune system.

“While providing children with nutritious fruits through Éminence Kids, we’re also teaching them at a young age how to take control of their own health for the rest of their lives.”

Says Tamara Hart: “Organic Days are in keeping with the essence of Éminence, whose products are based on hand-picked ingredients from their own gardens.

“On weekends, staff from head office in Vancouver donate their time to go to Ronald McDonald House BC and spend time with the children and do fun things like showing them how to make healthy smoothies.”

Eventually the Koronczay brothers would like to see Éminence Kids become a global initiative, as would Tamara Hart in Australia.

ALL ABOARD

orangutan-safety

If you’re not sure how to get with the program, or what program to get with, BUY1GIVE1 (B1G1) is a global business giving initiative that makes it easy for small to medium-sized businesses to give to and support great projects from around the world.

When your business joins the B1G1 Business for Good community, you are connected to like-minded business owners internationally. You also get access to great tools and resources to share your giving impact with your networks.

Give easily to over 800 projects across various categories through the online giving platform.

B1G1 is funded by a unique business membership model. The membership fee allows them to sustainably develop the resources necessary to support your business, leveraging and deepening your impact.

Administrative costs and all bank charges are completely covered by  membership fees. This means 100 percent of your contributions go directly to the projects you choose to support: such as water to those who have none, safety for orangutans in Borneo, supporting orphans and impoverished children, planting trees … you choose precisely and simply how you want to impact lives.

Already, nearly 2,000 businesses around the world have participated, and creating over 88 million giving impacts.

All in all, much food for thought as to how you can get involved. As British wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once aptly stated: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

By Jenni Gilbert

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