Although many companies find motivation in earning higher profits, countless entrepreneurs and businesses focus on charitable causes, too. In fact, 81 percent of entrepreneurs responding to a recent survey indicated that they donate funds to charity.
But steady cash flow isn’t the only way to help the community. 70 percent of the CEOs and founders also responded that they donate their time to charity, too. With a fashion focus, here are eight ways today’s innovative companies can support children through charitable acts.
Ethically Source Materials and Labor
Though your company may want to focus on the local community for acts of altruism, looking to your material sourcing and production should be a first step toward helping kids. After all, around 170 million children worldwide perform illegal and dangerous work as child laborers.
Fashion companies hold responsibility for sustainably and ethically sourcing materials and labor for their products. The first step toward helping children in your community is ensuring that children all over the world are not illicitly working for the benefit of your company.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to maintain transparent and ethical sourcing methods and materials. Fashion companies need only do their research before contracting with suppliers, laborers, and other industry services. Though examining the entire supply chain may prove difficult, fashion companies can investigate thoroughly and confirm that no child laborers are producing their raw materials.
Plus, organizations that agree to the Fair Wear Foundation’s code of labor practices can earn a spot on the organization’s list of ethical brands. Though not every ethical company makes the list, due to differences in sign-up requirements, brands that participate receive regular ethics audits.
Provide Safe Water and Housing
Though developed countries may not have a high need for educational or other help, developing areas may benefit from monetary and labor donations. Consider reaching out to an organization such as Habitat for Humanity, which operates in both disaster and poverty-stricken regions, to help children and their families find safe housing.
If you prefer to send aid to international children in need, you could provide funds for housing, the building of schools, educational materials, or even basic sanitary and health needs. Establishing a school in your fashion company’s name or sponsoring a child or community can make a positive impact.
Other reputable organizations also appreciate donations of both time and funds. For example, organizations which focus on providing clean and accessible water to remote populations, like the Thirst Project, help install wells and educate communities on maintaining a safe water supply.
Host a Camp or Workshop
Whether it’s hosting a week-long summer camp or an intensive workshop, teaching kids the ins and outs of the industry is one way to give back. For kids who have a fascination for fashion, business, economics, or crafting, spending time with you and your staff is an excellent way to learn, hands-on.
Plus, you may not have to look far to find an organization willing to host your company. Many community centers, churches, and other facilities are eager to donate space and even their time to help kids out. After securing a location, all you need to do is select staff to host the event, gather supplies, and recruit kids to participate.
If the results are positive, you could plan on regular workshops or sessions with local kids. Some companies even create children’s programming that’s fee-based, with scholarships available for lower-income families. Consider these options if your initial workshop is popular!
Join or Start a Mentoring Program
Whether you choose to donate a set number of company hours to mentoring or create your own program, mentoring is another impactful way to help children. One study found that children who had long-term mentors fared better in school and regarding social behavior.
However, the study also concluded that kids in the mentorship program spent most of their time- 40 percent- engaging in social and emotional development activities. Therefore, you don’t have to be able to do algebra or write an essay to give kids the benefit of mentorship, which can also include:
- Better performance in academics
- Healthier self-esteem and self-worth
- Development of social skills
- Less behavioral intervention at school/home
Although it comes down to company motivation and personal choice, you may find that implementing a mentorship program also helps raise morale among team members. Connecting with the community, especially for local and small businesses, means more than simply donating funds to programs or non-profits.
Visit Kids at School
Another way to help inspire kids’ creativity and drive for life after graduation is by visiting schools. Reach out to local public and private schools to see if any would be interested in hosting a few of your staff. Prepare a presentation on what your company does, how they do it, and how kids can do the same one day.
The focus of your visit can center around a career in fashion, business, or whatever else your staff is knowledgeable about. Bringing a hands-on activity for kids can prove engaging as well, although your choices will depend on what grade levels you’re addressing.
Often, high schools will host career days or fairs for soon-to-graduate students, giving fashion companies another way to show their wares and help inspire future designers, businesspeople, and other creatives. Even at lower elementary school levels, community volunteers are often welcome to read to children, help out with science and book fairs, or contribute to renovation projects.
Check with your local school district to see what their needs are and determine what projects and commitments are within the scope of your company’s abilities, interests, and time constraints.
Offer a Scholarship
Though offering a scholarship is similar to donating money to charitable organizations, you have the power when it comes to deciding who receives the money. Your fashion company can create a scholarship fund with the total amount going to students who write an essay, create a project, or qualify via other means.
Another option is to award students perks like free books or wardrobe pieces for college. Gifting a package of college textbooks or a seasonal wardrobe has a relatively low cost, but a tremendous impact for the “winner.”
Overall, you’re able to set the amount you want to invest, choose where it goes and for what purpose, and can still write it off as a charitable donation come tax time.
Plus, there’s no need to make a scholarship a recurring award if you don’t want to. But you do have the flexibility of creating your own sponsorship program for aspiring fashion or business students, something that can grow as your company does.
Hold a Competition
Inspiring kids who are passionate about fashion can also prove a charitable act. Creating a competition or event for young designers, models, and other creatives allows children to showcase their abilities and potentially earn recognition from colleges or companies in the fashion industry.
You can also imitate today’s reality TV shows and group kids together with unique design challenges. Staff can work alongside teams of participants, serve as judges, and offer fashion advice and technical help. A runway design-off, a fashion business plan mockup, or another creative project may correlate with your brand’s focus and style.
Whether you choose to award a prize such as a scholarship, cash prize, internship, or any other benefit is up to you. Regardless, children who want to pursue a career in fashion will want to be part of the event, especially if there’s a chance to win something for their efforts.
Help Moms to Help Kids
Helping both expecting moms and those who already have children is one way to make a tremendous impact on kids’ lives. Either by donating to organizations that provide aid to low-income moms or helping women develop skills to help them find jobs, your fashion company has a variety of resources that can benefit entire families.
Whether in your local community or abroad, offering help to mothers can ensure that children grow up with sufficient food, health care, and housing. You can start a program to help teach women how to sew, for example, a skill they can apply to a career in textiles.
You could hold business skills workshops that encourage women to start their own companies. You may even choose to give grants to mothers who want to start businesses but lack the necessary startup funds. Whatever action you take, equipping mothers with marketable skills helps them to provide for their children, giving kids security and opportunity before they can even walk.
While helping children is a noble cause, it’s essential to find the opportunities that are the right fit for your fashion company. Examine your company’s resources, staff, and availability carefully before committing to a cause. After all, it’s not about putting your company’s name on an event or donation.
Rather, it’s about finding the potential for a long-term collaboration that will benefit kids in your community or around the world. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to show consumers that your company invests time and resources in the wellbeing and progress of society through its children.