Models of Impact: Beyond The Package

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"How can products create sustainable impact in our communities? What role does philanthropy play now that consumers are more aware of the social impact behind their consumption?"

- Matthew Manos, Founder, verynice

Matthew Manos, Founder of verynice, is our newest contributor to our Opinion Series articles. His contributions will take on a different view of models of social impact – exploring new trends in business as an attempt to dig deeper and go “beyond the package” in order to reveal the models within.

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It is pretty much needless to say that the practice of package design has seen enormous transformation over the years. We’ve seen aesthetics and trends run their course, and the progress of these movements in design is fairly easy to track, but something else interesting has been evolving over the years beyond just aesthetics: business models, models of impact, have been evolving, too.

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How can products create sustainable impact in our communities? What role does philanthropy play now that consumers are more aware of the social impact behind their consumption? In the past 10 years, most intensely, we’ve seen a huge shift in business to a mindset in which profit is not the only measurement of success, but also “people” and “planet.” This new criteria for success has informed a new wave of products that have giving back at the core of what they do. This new column will explore these new trends in business as an attempt to dig deeper and go “beyond the package” in order to reveal the models within. These new kinds of products leverage 6 models for impact: Campaigns that Raise Awareness, Social Enterprise, One-for-One, Donating Percentage of Sales, Job Creation, and Sustainable Sourcing. Let’s kick things off by taking a look at a few pioneers in the productization of social impact:

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1. Campaigns that Raise Awareness:

Sometimes products succeed in creating impact simply by raising awareness. Through a smart use of design, or a viral instance of traction, the word can get out on a good cause in order to activate thousands and sometimes even millions! Falling Whistles is a prime example of a model of impact that focuses on awareness. As a campaign for peace in Congo, together they are building a coalition, all over the world, of whistleblowers speaking about the deadliest war of our time. Learn more about Falling Whistles, click here.

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2. Social Enterprise: 

A social enterprise is a form of business development typically housed within a nonprofit organization that allows for alternative sources of income and revenue in order to fund a non-profit’s social mission. Homeboy Industries, the largest gang prevention program in the United States, is home to several businesses that create products to support their members. Learn more about Homeboy Industries, click here

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3. One-for-One:

One-for-One is a popular business model that donates a product for every product purchased. While this business model was made popular by TOMS Shoes, a business that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need whenever a pair is purchased, it actually holds its roots in a business called One Laptop Per Child, a non-profit initiative that aims to get a laptop into the hands of every child in the world. For every laptop that we buy, a laptop is donated, but it gets better: the laptop only costs about $100 to create. Learn more about One Laptop Per Child, click here

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4. Donating Percentage of Sales:

A common tactic amongst products that are backed by models of impact is a simple pledge to donate a percentage of sales to a good cause. Ideally the cause that is benefitting is also related to the product itself, but this is not always the case. The Daily Duty is a toilet paper company that asks you to “take a roll in giving back.” A percentage of sales from every toilet paper roll subscription is donated to an array of causes. Learn more about The Daily Duty, click here.

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5. Job Creation:

Sometimes the best way to create impact in a community is to create jobs. With businesses that aim to assist in the development of economies abroad, we have seen a substantial amount of interest around locally sourcing products as a means to create employment. SHE intends to fulfill girls’ and women’s unmet need by helping local women in developing countries jump-start their own businesses to manufacture and distribute affordable, quality, and eco-friendly sanitary pads. Learn more about SHE, click here

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6. Sustainability:

Last but not least, perhaps the most common form of creating impact as a product: sustainable sourcing and environmental consciousness. It goes without saying that are earth is limited in resources. We increasingly need to be obtaining materials for the development of our products from renewable and recyclable sources. Aside from just keeping their sourcing methods green, Patagonia is a leader in sustainability thanks to their various environmental initiatives. Learn more about Patagonia: http:// www.patagonia.com/us/home As a society, we have developed a more serious set of expectations and priorities that define the things we buy. The amazing thing is that products and businesses are starting to listen! What socially conscious businesses have you bought from? Tell us in the comments below!

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About Matthew Manos

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Matthew Manos is a neo-philanthropist, creative director, and author that is dedicated to disrupting the way the design industry operates. Manos began his freelance design career at the age of 16, which is the same year he took on his first pro-bono client, and launched his first company. Three years later, he founded verynice, a global design and innovation consultancy that dedicates over 50% of its efforts toward free services for non-profit organizations. Manos has helped build over 300 brands in every sector and industry across the globe, and his studio works with a diverse clientele that range from Fortune 500 companies to small local shops. As of 2013, verynice has also provided over $1,000,000 worth of pro-bono design and consulting services in 40+ countries spanning 6 continents to benefit 200+ organizations thanks to a team of 250+ people located around the world. Notable clients of verynice have included The United Nations, NASA, MTV Networks, Edison International, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, UNICEF, Disney Imagineering, and Human Rights Campaign.

Matthew’s work and ideas have been published in 200+ print and online venues internationally including Forbes, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Wired Magazine. Manos speaks regularly at events and institutions across the United States including an influential TEDx talk in 2012 titled ”Reinterpreting the Role of a Designer.” Representative of his passion for connecting the fields of design and business, Manos pioneered the first class on entrepreneurship in the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture in 2012, and continues to teach the course. He holds a BA in Design Media Arts from UCLA (2010), and an MFA in Media Design from the Art Center College of Design (2012).