the one for one model [day 295]

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, was a keynote speaker this year at SXSW.  Not only was it incredible to hear his story, but just to hear the magnitude of positive change his company has created in the world.  Here’s the best part.  Blake made this statement at the end of his talk.

“From this day forward, TOMS is no longer a shoe company. It’s a one-for-one company.  Our next step is meeting those needs around the world.”

Yes, TOMS is now a one-for-one company.  In June, they’re launching their next product.  You buy one, somebody in need gets one.  It’s a for profit model, and an extremely successful one.  I have to say here that I would love to go out and buy a pair of TOMS shoes.  With my one year of no retail shopping, unfortunately that’s not an option.  If I buy them used, a person in need will not get a new pair of shoes, however, even in the secondary market, good can still be done.

  • If I get them at a thrift store, that money goes to charity.
  • If I wear them, I’m marketing TOMS and this one-for-one model.
  • If I buy them used, paying less than retail, I’ve saved money that I can donate to one of my favorite charities.

How else can we apply the 1-for-1 model?

I’ve been pondering this question for a few days now.  I don’t know how anyone can hear the TOMS story and not wonder how we can all be a part of it.  TOMS is obviously onto something here.  I have a few ideas of how this could be applied in other ways to benefit TOMorrow.  

Downsizing 1-for-1

This model can be applied to downsizing your collection of stuff.  For every one thing you buy, you give one thing to someone in need.  You can give to a thrift store, as all of their profits go to people in need.  This helps people in need while keeping your collection of material goods from growing in number.  If you’re really striving to go more towards minimalism, this is a great way to accomplish it.

Giving 1-for-1

What is we give one thing to someone in need every time we buy something or do something?  I know this is a little bit crazy, but hear me out.  Let’s say you decide every time you buy a clothing item that you will buy an item for someone in need.  That would get expensive, but wouldn’t it make you think twice about what you’re buying?  Yes, that pun was intended.  You would select items more carefully.  How about donating time?  The personal 1-for-1 is probably not going to work 100% of the time for most people, but what if we did it on a smaller scale?  Here’s a few examples:

  • Every time you buy a canned good at the grocery store, you buy one for the local food pantry.
  • For every hour you spend on social media, you volunteer an hour at a local shelter.
  • Every time you or your family eats out at a fast food establishment, you buy a meal for someone in need.  (gift card)

There are so many creative ways to work this process into your life in some small way.  Just imagine what a better place this world would be by everyone making a small 1-for-1 effort.

Business 1-for-1

After pondering this for a while, I think businesses could also participate in this.  I have no expectation that WaMart will ever adapt to a 1-for-1 model, however I could see them or other retailers participating on a smaller level.  Even if they had some 1-for-1 items, what would that look like?  If WalMart had a soul, I have no doubt they would sell it at a discounted price to make money.  I did mention that TOMS is a for-profit business model.  This concept of 1-for-1 can be done and it builds a customer loyalty that you cannot get by doing anything else.

Okay, so the superstore thing is a really large dream.  It could happen.  But how about the freelancers and small businesses?  If you’re in the service industry, do a 1-for- service.  If you sell products, work in a 1-for-1 model.  This can work.

I truly believe the power to make this world a better place is within all of us.  It might take a little bit of radical thinking outside your comfort zone, but it only takes modest changes to make a huge difference.

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