May 31, 2021
While I was growing my business, Canvaspop, from an idea into a successful eight-figure ecommerce company, I was on track to accomplishing all of my business dreams. At a time when I should have felt more fulfilled than ever before, I actually found myself feeling more empty. I found myself questioning my business’ purpose, and its larger impact on the world. To fill that void, I poured my time and energy into delivering a level of service to our customers that was better than everyone else, cultivating an inspiring company culture that placed immense value on its employees, and building a technology product and service that pushed the boundaries of innovation in our space.
But despite all of that, I still felt empty inside. Because although we were building a great business, I still didn’t see how I was significantly changing the world for the better.
I started to interact with other founders and CEOs that shared the same sentiment as they grew their own businesses. Each of us were building great companies that added to the economy – creating new jobs for many – and were meeting the needs of our customers. But, like me, they too questioned the mark they and their businesses would leave on the world.
Our solution to this problem was to give back to charity. With so many high-purpose social enterprises doing amazing work in areas like global warming, extreme poverty, homelessness, and more, along with other organizations solving these problems at a local level, we realized our contribution could be to commit to donating a percentage of our business revenues to these social enterprises and, by de facto, align our purpose with theirs. At the end of the day, we realized that the more successful we are in our businesses, the more we’re able to give. And by integrating this commitment into our companies’ mission and vision statements, we found that we could enhance our overall company’s purpose.
So, I decided to start giving back to the charities that I care deeply about, but without a guide or framework to go by. Although it felt good to give back on a personal level, I really wanted my entire organization to share in that experience. The problem was I didn’t see the level of engagement or enthusiasm in giving back from them that I’d wanted to.
A few years later, COVID-19 hit in early 2020, and it has magnified the problems that our world is already facing. My employees started to suggest that we do something to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. They raised suggestions for potential charities and social causes we could donate to, bringing them to myself and the management team. I started to notice an uptick in employee engagement, in a way that had never occurred before when we’d tried to engage in other philanthropic initiatives. That’s when I realized what the key to effective, purpose-driven giving back was – to involve employees in the process right from the start. And so, Build With Purpose was born.
We created a framework that startups, scaleups, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) could use to implement a giving back program within their companies, and to get their employees involved in the process from start to finish. The result? A company donation – to a charity or social cause that is selected, collectively, by the company’s employees – that was no longer a cost item, but rather an investment into employee culture and retention.
Through Build With Purpose we’ve made our framework available to current and future members through the Build With Purpose Playbook – and today, we are sharing it with the world.
The Playbook is a living, breathing document, constantly being improved through feedback we receive from our community. We encourage that every company tailors the steps in the Playbook to their own company culture, and shares their approach and learnings with us so we can continue to make the program even better.
Together, following a common framework and connecting through a community, we believe that startups, scaleups, and SMBs, collectively, can significantly improve the societies we live in by giving back and creating entire organizations that operate with a higher purpose.
Build With Purpose