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Charity Begins At Home: Startups With CSR At Their Core This trend towards ''for-cause'' companies marks an important development in corporate social consciousness.

By James Pass

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The majority of businesses know how important a good CSR policy is, and the trend for cause-related marketing is nothing new. In the 2012 Cone Cause-Evolution Study, 83% of Americans said they wished brands would support causes, and almost half admitted to buying a product because it was associated with a cause. So with plenty of statistics to show how charity associations influence customers, CSR has become the norm, and if done well, it should always make a genuine difference.

But what we're seeing now is a new kind of cause commitment that takes giving to a whole new level. Instead of being part of brand strategy to promote a halo effect, there are a growing number of companies launching with charity at their core. Their essence is built on philanthropy and their charitable reputation drives sales, as well as donations.

One of the best examples is TOMS, a for-profit company founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, who is the trailblazer of the One-for-One movement where someone in need benefits directly from every purchase. TOMS started selling shoes to help children in Argentina and after an article in the Los Angeles Times, orders soon outstripped supply. The company has since branched out into eyewear to help fund eye examinations and treatment.

A similar initiative, Project 7 is the brainchild of Tyler Merrick, a wealthy entrepreneur who wanted to make a difference with his success. "If people are going to buy things, lots of things, then let's use those things they purchase to help change the world around us. Let's make everyday products for everyday people to solve everyday problems around the globe" he says. Project 7 sells mints and chewing gum and through its partnerships with non-profit organisations they make corresponding donations that provide water aid, plant trees, help the homeless and offer education in developing nations.

This kind of social entrepreneurship is gradually becoming more commonplace in the US and Europe and it has been a real privilege for us at James Pass Design (JPd), a Dubai-based branding agency specialising in startups, to work with a company who shares the same vision here in the UAE. Injoy Giving is an online gifting platform based on the idea that small acts of generosity can add up to something beautiful. Customers can purchase things like beauty treatments, meal vouchers and leisure experiences, and the company donates part of the proceeds to the World Food Programme. Like any startup, Injoy Giving needed to define its brand story and create an identity that helps communicate its ethos effectively. That's where JPd came in and the team developed Albert, "the giving bird," a cheeky brand mascot who works across different media to symbolise spreading happiness.

At JPd, this trend towards "'for-cause'' companies really struck us as it marks an important development in corporate social consciousness, as well as adding a unique competitive edge and a positive platform for new businesses to connect with their audience.

So, what's at the core of your startup?

James Pass

James Pass, Managing Director and Creative Principle, JPd

James Pass is an entrepreneur, international brand consultant and accomplished graphic designer, with 20 years of global branding experience. Since relocating to Dubai in the 1990s, he’s worked with many international branding agencies, including Fitch and Landor Associates, developing a reputation as a leading creative force in the business world. In late 2012, James noticed a shortage of branding services for entrepreneurs and startups in the MENA region. The market was saturated by large design agencies with a predominantly corporate focus, which lacked the commercial sensitivity required for a bourgeoning business. In a bid to fill this gap, and enable start-up companies to build brands from scratch, JPd was born.

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