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Giving Back and Paying It Forward

Cindy Murphy

It has been stated that happier people give more because they are fueled by their positive emotions. The concept of prosocial behavior, or behavior intended to benefit another, dates back to ancient Greece, where Aristotle argued the goal of life was to achieve “eudaemonia”, or the modern definition of happiness. According to Aristotle, eudaemonia is a state in which one experiences happiness from a successful performance of moral duties.

Supporting a cause, or doing good is also good business. Consumers have been found to be more willing to engage with products that are more community-based, rather than consumer-based. According to a 2018 study from Cone Communications, 80% of consumers trust a business which addresses environmental or social issues. Companies with a stronger reputation for purpose will be rewarded with higher benefits as consumers are more likely to support those companies through trial, purchase and continued support.

Creating a relationship with customers which builds trust and loyalty is a goal for every successful business. Campaigns spreading the goodwill message are becoming more of a part of advertising plans, whether it is through social media or television or radio.

Examples of companies with giving back initiative campaigns include Dick’s Sporting Goods and Unilever. Dick’s Sporting Goods “Sports Matter”, donates money to youth sports teams who have lost their funding. The website for this initiative,, provides powerful stories of those who have benefited from this program. The videos highlight the company’s values as well as support provided by its employees and customers. “Project Sunlight”, is an initiative of Unilever, used to motivate people to make the world a better place for children and future generations. Participants share their films on Their mission is to help people see a brighter future, and contribute and join the movement to building this better society and environment. Their partnerships include Save the Children, Oxfam, and UNICEF.

“Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for.”

2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study

These are all large corporations – so how does a smaller company or single person give back? By Paying it Forward…

One strong example is The Giving Keys. A Pay It Forward company whose mission is to support job creation for people transitioning out of homelessness through the sales of their jewelry, specifically repurposed keys. Their website,, takes you on a journey with their products and people, and the impact the company has had in the city of Los Angeles.

The Pay It Forward Foundation, established in September 2000, has a philosophy that through acts of kindness among strangers, we can develop a more caring society. Not only are kindness and compassion to be directed to people, but also animals and the environment.

The Pay It Forward Day, a concept originating from the Pay It Forward Foundation, is a great way to get started. People are encouraged to do a good deed for someone else without expecting anything in return. The recipient of the good will is then encouraged to continue the chain by providing an act of kindness to another person, creating a ripple effect. People are asked to share their acts on social media, for others to follow. Just think of how society could change if we all participated in this exercise.

This year the Pay It Forward Day is April 28th, 2019. How can you and your company make a difference and experience the true feeling of giving?

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