Embedded Generosity

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Embedded Generosity

It has long been fashionable for the super-rich to give generously.  In fact, for industrialists like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford, it was considered required behavior.  More recently, some of the most conspicuously rich individuals have taken to giving away large portions of their wealth, as Warren Buffett did recently when he joined forces with Bill Gates.

Now a new trend is making it possible for everyone to participate in giving generously.  This so-called "embedded generosity" involves corporations letting customers feel like they are giving something to the world when they do business with that specific company.Companies do this by offering some sort of charitable contribution to be triggered when a customer purchases a product or service. 

According to Trendwatching.com, this trend was big in 20092 and will be even bigger in 2010.3  People like embedded generosity because it makes giving automatic and painless.  [Source: Trendwatching.com.  One of the world's leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.]

For example, Baby Teresa is a company in Australia that manufactures baby clothes.  For every "onesie suit" it sells, the company donates one to a child in need.  The company was founded by an interior decorator and a real estate agent, both of whom had a philanthropic streak and wanted to make money as well as to give back something to society.  With this in mind, they created a scheme that they call "Buy Once, Share Twice," in which every purchase by a customer benefits two babies.  The donations are distributed all over the world, including Vietnam and Africa. 

This idea has met with great success, with Baby Teresa's customers reporting that they like the idea of helping a child in need.  One customer called it, "retail therapy and meaningful contribution rolled into one."  When customers give a Baby Teresa product as a gift, they find that the recipients consider it much more meaningful than simply receiving another item of baby clothing. 

This strategy comes at a particularly important time for corporations, because it gives them a way to regain trust from people who have been disappointed too many times in the past.  According to the Reputation Garage, only 13 percent of Americans trust big business today.  Watson Wyatt conducted a survey showing that just 39 percent of employees trust their own senior managers, and 75 percent of consumers in the United States believe that corporations lie to the public in their advertising...

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