Purchasing with Purpose

Purchasing with Purpose

Changing the world—one pint of ice cream at a time.

Each year in the United States, individuals and corporations give somewhere around $400 billion to charitable causes, ranging from arts organizations to social services to religious organizations. For the ordinary person, that number seems staggering. But, according to CBS News, that represents only a small fraction—2%—of the Gross Domestic Product of the nation.

As we look around the world today, we do see ways that money has impacted the daily lives of people in our community. There are theaters where there were once abandoned warehouses, initiatives like Housing First have dramatically reduced the number of people who are living on the streets long-term, and the list goes on. But while progress has been made, the problems that remain can seem overwhelming.

While charitable giving has received increased attention in the last decade, especially with advances in communication technology, the amount Americans give has stayed relatively stagnant. Americans even report giving around 2% of their income to charity—a strange parallel to the economy as a whole.

But you care about the world around you. So how do we have a greater impact? How do we do more with our money, make a bigger difference?

Americans give roughly 2% of the nation’s GDP to charity each year. The nation as a whole produces over $19 trillion in one calendar year according to the World Bank. What if there was a way to harness even just a fraction more of that incredible amount of production to combat the deepest issues our society faces?

$400,000,000,000 yearly

Many people would love to give more to charity, but don’t have the means to donate more money out of their pocket. So how do we give more without having to give more? The answer—using our spending to make a difference.

If the average person spends $5,400 on impulse buys each year, that is an additional $5,400 that you can leverage to impact the world around them. By spending your money at companies that give back to the community, you are able to give back and get the things you need and want. One example is Warby Parker, the eyeglass store, who donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold. In the business world, Salesforce is committed to its 1-1-1 model, donating 1% of profits, 1% of employee time, and 1% of its product to charity. Or, if you happen to be walking down the freezer aisle in your grocery store, consider buying a tub of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream—the company awards more than $1.8 million a year to fund community action and change. Eating more ice cream is the kind of social investment most of us can get behind.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we look at the deep struggles the world around us faces. What can one person do in the face of such large-scale issues? Rather than giving in to despair or apathy, we can find ways to use something as commonplace as our shopping trip to invest in making a change. Together, we can help provide economic opportunity to those who are poor. We can bring those who are homeless into housing. We can protect our environment for future generations.

Together, we can change the world—one pint of ice cream at a time.


| Written by Benjamin Hoekstra

| Visuals by Billion Back Records, The World Bank


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