Guest post courtesy of Joseph Passi
My partner and I started Pill3r (pronounced “Pillar”) almost a year ago. Our goal starting out was to create a company that made a difference in people lives. Our motto is; “Products of Impact.” Each product we sell makes a tangible impact in someone’s life. Through Pill3r we launch different projects and products all with the same goal—to make an impact. Our current project through Pill3r is On3shirt.com (pronounced “one-shirt-dot-com”).
Through On3shirt.com we partner with different non-profit organizations every month or two. Our business model is based off of developing partnerships with non-profits. During the 1-2 month period that the partnerships lasts, we create a design that in some way reflects our goal we have during that period. We than sell the T-Shirts with the specific design and give a big part of our proceeds of each T-Shirt sale to the organization we partnered with. Customers buy the T-Shirts knowing that each one purchased helped someone in a tangible way. We always look to have tangible needs met through our sales. For example, for our first goal we partnered with FMSC and through each T-Shirt sale a child was fed for a month. Currently we are partnered with Project Orphans. Besides having a tangible need met through each individual T-Shirt sale, we usually look to have an overall campaign goal reached by
the end of the time period set out for the partnership. After we finish a campaign, we move onto a new design and partnership. We never make the same design twice. Once a campaign is over, the design used to represent the cause will not be featured again.
We wanted to create a way to help different causes and figured the best way would be to help existing organizations. There are so many non-profits working towards great causes and we wanted to match up our business model around helping them. We wanted to create a model where we could come alongside organizations and help provide a boost. We achieve that through proceeds that help reach the goals, as well as raising awareness. Finally, we also develop other unique ways to help out. We try to get our hands dirty by providing ways to actively engage in helping the non-profits. Sometimes we help out by joining these organizations at conferences in order to raise awareness. At other times we host events, and sometimes we simply try to get out to their sites to help out with whatever they are doing. In the near future, with organizations situated in remote parts of the world, we hope to send a team of helpers at the end of the campaigns.
Our model is attractive to non-profits. Non-profits like it because they receive some exposure as well as funds helping them in specific ways. The organizations we partner with simply have to agree to the partnership, and from there promote the cause themselves. Other than that, they get exposure, and help with the causes they are already working on.
Our model through On3shirt.com is a little different than most Businesses, mostly because it is built around always having a partnership where we can give parts of our proceeds to. As such, our entire goal is to be able to make as big of an impact as possible in people’s lives. And that comes through giving to the charity organization. Our success in each campaign is tied into the non-profits success. The better we do, the more resources they get. The more awareness we can raise together, the more they get help.
When first starting our business it was quite hard developing those partnerships. Organizations were often wary of what our intentions were. The problem is that businesses often look to “partner” up with a non-profit in order to provide that social conscious image so prevalent these days. This can often be more of a marketing ploy than anything. As such, upon initial contact, non-profits often express skepticism on our reasons for partnering. This is where developing the relationship is key. This we achieve through being transparent, and by explaining everything to them. Furthermore, we provide a win-win situation. Like I mentioned earlier, businesses have often created this mistrust in the past by “partnering” with the non-profits just to look better in consumer’s eyes. A good way to create trust is by actually getting your hands dirty and setting up times where you can help out. Get people together and go help the cause. Usually when getting involved in the hands on help, non-profits will be able to see if you are sincere or not.
We have found that as time has progressed, we have started to have organizations coming to us asking to do a campaign with them through our model. Through being transparent, we have created some good relationships. Furthermore, we win through helping their cause and raising awareness for our brand, while the non-profit wins from getting proceeds, hands on help, and more awareness. We are constantly talking to new organizations, and people looking for new ways to help and partner. A final and critically important point is that we have been sincere in our urge to help, which usually wins through.
Like in most business situations, people need to start looking for the situation where both parties can gain value. We have been stuck in a mindset for too long where people are constantly looking for ways to progress their own careers/businesses. This is similar to the “Networking” issue. Networking events have been of the rage lately. But what happens at them? Everyone brings business cards and tries to hand out as many as possible with the goal of getting contacts that will help further their career. So instead of gaining a couple of great contacts, you end up having a hundred shallow ones because you went for quantity over quality. Instead, look to provide value and help, and in turn this will eventually build your career/business up.
We are extremely excited for our new non-profit partnership campaign which will begin in May.