How TOMS and Buy-One-Give-One Really Help Buy-One-Give-One Businesses Like TOMS Can Make Real Difference How TOMS and Buy-One-Give-One Really Help Buy-One-Give-One Businesses Like TOMS Can Make Real Difference
Business

How TOMS and Buy-One-Give-One Really Help Buy-One-Give-One Businesses Like TOMS Can Make Real Difference

by Melissa Kushner

June 26, 2011

After eight years of learning how to best provide goods to those in need, I can safely say that shoes, fabric, school materials as well as other necessities like eyeglasses can have a lasting impact, even after they wear out.

Goods provision can be right and when it is, it has far-reaching benefits. For example: Goods for Good has witnessed a 25 percent increase in school attendance by providing students and teachers with re-purposed educational supplies and trained over 200 vulnerable people in the marketable skill of tailoring who in turn created over 24,000 school uniforms for orphans and vulnerable children, based on the gift of surplus fabric.

Goods donations are worthwhile when they:  

  • Meet an immediate need as well as have along term impact
  • Are based on actual, observed needs
  • Work in partnership with the community
  • Support local initiatives

Work With Local Institutions

There is a big difference between a well-intentioned tourist giving a child a pair of shoes and a teacher providing required school shoes to her student.

The tourist can see that the child is barefoot and needs shoes. The teacher on the other hand knows that the child requires black shoes to attend school as well as de-worming tablets to cure the existing parasitic infections. The teacher also knows that this particular girl has two other orphaned siblings at home who also need shoes and other methods of support.

When materials are provided in partnership with trusted community members, such as a teacher or local community group leader, that person knows best who to give the goods to, and why they need them. They can also help to make sure the shoes, or glasses or anything else don’t go to waste. 

Use the Good to Support Local Initiatives, Not Replace Them

The Malawian government provides notebooks and de-worming tablets to schoolchildren. While these are both worthwhile interventions, their impact falls short without complementary support. That’s a great scenario when goods donation works. What good is a notebook to a child who cannot write in it because she has no pen? Likewise, how effective is a de-worming tablet to a child who has no shoes to protect him from future hookworm infections? 

Goods for Good helps to enhance these initiatives by distributing pens in conjunction with the government’s notebooks and TOMS along with the Ministry of Health’s de-worming program. By coupling interventions, both parties are more effectively meeting the common goal of caring for children in need.

Goods for Good has applied these principles to our partnership with TOMS and others like it, and it's paying off. School materials, TOMS and a uniform were the catalyst for 14 year-old Assamu Danda to re-enroll in school; excess fabric has enabled guardian Manesi Abel to start her own tailoring business, and surplus administrative materials and tailoring inputs have enabled community leader Christopher Goma to increase the number of orphans his group supports.

Partnerships between TOMS, Goods for Good, and local organizations in Malawi prove that giving goods can be done right, and when it is, buy-one-get-one products, in-kind donations, and other materials, have the power to transform lives.

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How TOMS and Buy-One-Give-One Really Help Buy-One-Give-One Businesses Like TOMS Can Make Real Difference