The Thanks Economy: Companies & People Giving Back to their Communities

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In less than 24 hours, households around America will be setting tables, gathering ‘round, feasting on turkey, and talking about what they’re thankful for. While these are typical family activities during the month of November, it’s easy to forget how important it is to spend time with the people around us and appreciate what we have during the rest of the year.

For businesses, remembering to give back to your community is equally difficult. With the constant focus on earning revenue, brand marketing, social media and content strategy, and simply clearing out those emails, who even has the time to think about giving? would – quite literally – not exist without our amazing community of curators sharing smart content across the web, and similarly, most businesses would be nothing without their consumers.

For inspiration, here are some awesome companies and individuals giving back to their communities:

Salesforce Foundation

According to their website, “The Foundation is based on a simple idea: Leverage’s people, technology and resources to build collective knowledge and enable action to improve communities throughout the world. We call our integrated philanthropic approach the 1/1/1 model.” The 1/1/1 model was created by the founder of, Marc Benioff. When he started the company 14 years ago, he knew that he wanted to incorporate philanthropy in his business from the start. He decided that he would donate 1% of equity, 1% of his employees’ time, and 1% of his product to make the world a better place. Since then, the foundation has donated over $50 million in grants and has even created a program to help the world’s youth learn technological skills and build businesses using the technologies.

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Toms Shoes & Eyewear

Per Toms’ website, this company is “in business to help change lives.” They have certainly done just that. If you’ve followed Toms over the past few years, you probably already know that, for each pair of shoes that they sell, they donate a pair to those in need across the globe. Recently, Toms expanded to eyewear with the same principles. In the past seven years, Toms has donated 10 million pairs of shoes and millions of dollars to affiliate companies in partnership with over 70 countries to help those in need.

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Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk might be one of the most well known businessmen of our generation. Something interesting about Gary is that he truly plays by his own rules. He started out selling wine and has never stopped moving upward. One of the reasons for this is that Gary Vaynerchuk, lovingly known as @garyvee to his 1 million Twitter followers, knows how people work. He knows that you get what you give, and he certainly gets a lot. In a recent piece in the New York Times, the giving part of this adage was explained for all to see. About once a week, @garyvee asks all of his followers what he can do for them. Whether the requests he subsequently receives are genuine or just people trolling him, he always chooses a few to fill. Once, he even had a burger delivered to a man in Minnesota. I don’t know about you, but if I wanted a burger and all of a sudden, one was delivered to me thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk, I would probably consider buying his next book. Intentions aside, though, this man is more than capable of helping others out, and he certainly does just that.

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Charity Miles

This fitness app, launched about a year and a half ago, provides a way to donate to charities without ever having to reach into your wallet. Essentially, the company is funded by its founders as well as investors, and has partnerships with numerous charities, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Pencils of Promise, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity. The entire mission of this company is to encourage physical activity and give back to the community. Each runner, biker, or walker who uses the app records his/her mileage and, with a simple share to Facebook or Twitter, has an amount of money – based on said mileage – donated on his/her behalf from the company.

While your business might not yet be able to give back millions or even hundreds of dollars, there are always ways to show your community that you appreciate them and acknowledge the fact that you likely wouldn’t be able to succeed without them. Who have you seen giving back to their communities in an awesome and inspiring way?

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

(San Francisco)


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About the Author

Ally Greer
Ally is's Director of Content & Community. She loves to geek out over anything social, Internet, or tech related. When she isn't working, you'll probably find her running the streets of San Francisco. Follow Ally on Twitter @allygreer.
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Mohammad Taha
Mohammad Taha
10 years ago
10 years ago

That’s kind of you, may your mission get accomplished. All the Very best

Belinda Summers
10 years ago

Paying forward scheme is not just some kind of a marketing strategy but I do believe that when you give, the reward is ten folds of that you gave. Love this post. 🙂

Alison D. Gilbert
10 years ago

Money has become God for too many Americans. Paying it forward should have nothing to do with business as a marketing strategy. If a company/organization chooses to pay it forward as their mission that is totally separate from using it to gain on the business side. Paying it forward is and should be its own reward.

M Beech
10 years ago

how to develop the lives of poor people? Social investment is the answer.

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