Art of Being Cheap: Doing my part for corporate social responsibility
I am trying a little experiment with the idea of corporate social responsibility. You may have noticed that in the middle of last week, a small note popped up on the right hand side of this webpage saying that 10% of all the revenue this website earns will be donated to the United Way. Even though I think the United Way is a fine organization that does a lot of great things in the community, I put that note up partly as an experiment, partly to raise a little money for charity, but mostly to see if I could make more money for myself by giving part of it away. If that doesn’t make sense, this article is to explain what I mean.
Many years ago, I saw one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream speak, but I no longer remember if it was Ben or Jerry. The speech was about the history of how Ben & Jerry’s was started, and how a central idea of the company had always been to be a socially responsible business. When he spoke about a socially responsible business, he meant a business that had multiple goals. The first goal was to make the owners a little money, but the business also operated with the goal of making the world around it a better place. They did this in a variety of ways such as giving money to charity, encouraging their dairy farmers to not use growth hormones on their cattle, and trying to source ingredients from charities like as a bakery in New York that employed formerly homeless people.
Why being a socially responsible business might be a good idea
The reason that being a socially responsible business might be a good idea, is that it is good advertising. When consumers choose which ice cream to buy, does knowing that a little bit of the money they spend goes to good causes push them just a little tiny bit in the direction of buying Ben & Jerry’s? Probably. Do they make the news every once in a while and a get a little free publicity for their good deeds? I’m sure they do. When these little positive affects are all added up, it gave Ben & Jerry’s enough of an advantage to become one of the biggest ice cream companies in the country.
Ever since I heard that speech, the idea that a business could make more money by doing good and giving it away has fascinated me. Now that I have my own little hobby business, I am going to try it out. Would that work for my website? I’m not sure, but I am going to find out.
How the Art of Being Cheap will be socially responsible.
The biggest thing the Art of Being Cheap can do is to donate part of the money it earns to charity. Not only does that put money in the hands of a orgainization that can do positive things with it, but maybe it just influences people to come visit my site just a tiny bit. Perhaps it persuades people to “like” my facebook page, or to retweet the messages I send out on twitter, knowing that they can help me in my goal in raising money for charity by getting their friends to come visit my web site.
More people visiting this website means more revenue. If giving 10% of revenue to charity can increase revenues by more than 10%, then everybody is a winner. I am also making this decision retroactive to the beginning of this website, meaning 10% all of the money I have made up to this point will also be given to the United Way. Don’t get too excited though, that adds up to less than $1 at this point. I am hoping that begins to grow rapidly over the next few months.
Being socially responsible in the future.
Other than giving money to charity, perhaps there are other ways that this website can be socially responsible. Many of the ways I save money also happen to be good for the environment. I have already written articles about using front load washers and reel lawn mowers which use less energy and are better for the environment. Even though I haven’t written about this yet, I also use energy-efficient light bulbs and drive a hybrid car. Both of these things serve the dual purpose of saving money and being environmentally friendly. So I will look for articles that not only save you money, but also make the world a better place.
After the United Way has had its turn, we will look for other charities to donate money to. Perhaps there will be a poll in the future where readers can vote on which organization should earn the 10% of revenues from this site.
What are your thoughts on the idea of being a socially responsible business?