Tanya Castin, UncommonGoods Junior Assistant Buyer
Tanya Castin, UncommonGoods Junior Assistant Buyer
For 16 years, we here at UncommonGoods have demonstrated a commitment to supporting causes we care about through our Better to Give Program, an initiative that allows us to donate $1 from each purchase to a non-profit partner of your choice (and at no additional cost to you). Earlier this year, our Product Development team joined forces with one of our longest-standing Better to Give partners, RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to craft a unique item of jewelry to benefit their organization. The result—our Hope Shines Necklace—is an elegant emblem of what RAINN stands for, symbolizing hope, reflection, and triumph over darkness. But how did we arrive at this design?
The process was a long one—about four months—but our team began with a few ideas in mind. At first, they used text as a springboard, attempting to translate everything from statistics—like RAINN’s assertion that every 98 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted—to the number for the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline into wearable pieces of jewelry. Soon, however, they broadened their approach, exploring ways to highlight some of the more general themes associated with RAINN’s mission, like hope, forward motion, and the ongoing nature of one’s story.
At UncommonGoods we strive to use our business as a force for good. One of the ways we do so is by giving to non-profit organizations that we care about through our Better to Give Program–which lets you chose a non-profit partner to receive a $1 donation (at no cost to you) each time you shop.
As the leader of our Sustainability Steering Committee, I am proud that our relationships with our Better to Give partners go beyond the monetary donations we make, by having elements that include volunteer outings, speaker sessions, and attending off-site special events hosted by our selected non-profits. While all of these areas are partially what makes it an absolute blast to work for UncommonGoods, what is most inspiring is hearing about when our team members take it upon themselves to support our Better to Give partners outside of our organization.
Since October, our Merchant Assistant, Tanya Castin, has been devoting her nights and weekends to becoming a volunteer working with one of our Better to Give partners, RAINN. Last month, Tanya completed her training and is officially an online hotline staffer for RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline.
A speaker session with RAINN’s Development Director Chelsea Bowers that we hosted back in August prompted Tanya to get involved. “Just hearing stories about our team members’ experiences with sexual assault and being aware of the statistics [related to sexual abuse] pushed me into taking action,” she explained. “Being an online hotline staffer was something that I didn’t know was an option, but when I found out about it through our guest speaker, I looked it up online and found that they had one slot open in a New York City-based training over a weekend, so I signed up.” Signing up was the first step toward a large undertaking. To be a hotline staff, RAINN’s requirements included an in person weekend training session (16 hours split between a Saturday and Sunday), followed by a robust online training program.
As a business that specializes in one-of-a-kind, handmade merchandise, we don’t typically offer site-wide promotions. Shop ’til you drop deals, such as those advertised on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are not part of our DNA. (Though that doesn’t mean we don’t offer goods on sale!)
But what is stored within our DNA is a commitment to giving back, an instinct to use business as a force for good.
As an independently owned business, we have the freedom to support causes we believe in and to impact the world in a positive way. With every purchase you make, we donate $1 to one of our nonprofit partners of your choice through our Better to Give program (at no cost to you).
While we’re grateful to have the freedom to support four nonprofit organizations that are doing such important work, we know that the key to truly making a difference through our Better to Give program is up to our customers.
Thanksgiving Day is less than one month away, which means that we are officially entering the eye of the holiday season! (Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”)
Between between hours of travel, days of holiday dinner prep, and months of coordinating reunions with loved ones, it can be hard to take the time to plan anything that doesn’t revolve around your own seasonal traditions.
But there’s no denying that taking the time to give back is invaluable. All year long, we offer our customers the chance to give back through our Better to Give program. With every purchase you make, we’re proud to donate $1 to a Better to Give partner of your choice (at no cost to you). This year, we want to make sure that giving back is part of your holiday planning. So, we turned to our community to spread the word about our Better to Give program.
There is a long list of reasons for why I begged to join the UncommonGoods team, but mainly it was my curiosity about our roots as a founding B Corp and our commitment to a creative flagship donation program called Better to Give. (Although, it also didn’t hurt that it is located near top-notch taco joints and the best dim sum and soup dumplings New York City has to offer.) The Better to Give program epitomizes what we strive to do in all aspects of our business. Through the program, we show how to use business as a force for good, while offering all stakeholders an opportunity to express themselves through digital advocacy for organizations that align with our values and vision.
We’ve all heard the old phrase “It’s better to give than to receive,” and as a B Corp, we truly mean it. We even took the name for our Better to Give program from that sentiment, because we know that giving back to the community is an important part of becoming a better business.
Every time you shop at UncommonGoods, we donate $1 to the non-profit Better to Give partner of your choice, and over the past 12 years, that’s added up to over $1,000,000 in donations. On December 1, 2015, we want to give a little extra by participating in #GivingTuesday.
Help us give more by taking to social media to tell us why you believe that it’s better to give than to receive using the hashtags #BettertoGive and #GivingTuesday. We’ll donate $1 a share for the first 5,000 shares to our non-profit partners and we’ll pick three participants (one each from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) to win $500 to donate to the non-profit organization of their choice.
While you don’t need to shop to share, we do plan to give our traditional Better to Give program a little extra love on #GivingTuesday as well. Place an order on December 1 and we’ll donate an extra dollar on your behalf to the organization you choose at checkout.
By participating in #GivingTuesday through social media or by selecting one of our partners when you shop, you can help us make a difference for a child learning to read, a woman survivor of war, a survivor of sexual abuse, or a natural habitat facing potential deforestation.
Donations to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, fund programs that prevent sexual violence. RAINN also operates National Sexual Assault Hotline and partners with rape crisis centers across the country. By providing resources for policymakers and the media and building community partnerships, RAINN promotes nationwide education and awareness about sexual violence. They also work to ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
Donations to American Forests help them protect and restore forests damaged by human action and natural disasters around the world. American Forests, the oldest non-profit conservation organization in the United States, has planted more than 45 million trees since 1990.
Donations to Women for Women International allow them to help women survivors of war by bringing them together in safe spaces to learn life, business, and job skills. By giving women the tools and resources they need to overcome crisis and poverty, Women for Women International helps them become independent, while building stronger families and communities.
Donations to Reach Out and Read help them continue their mission to put children on the path to success through the development of early reading skills and school readiness. The organization works with thousands of doctors and nurses across all 50 US states to integrate children’s books into well-child visits and encourage parents to read to their children.
We’re extremely proud of the positive impact we’ve helped our non-profit partners make in the world and we’re looking forward to helping these great organizations do more good as we celebrate #GivingTuesday.