More than half the people in the world live on less than $2 a day. That’s incredible (and well… a little depressing) when you think about it. Many of us, this blogger included, will stand in line to cough up five bucks for a grande pumpkin- spice latte at Starbucks. Yet, the price of that oh-so-yummy coffee could feed a hungry family for a day. And those $700 Jimmy Choo strap wedge sandals that caught your eye at Nordstroms? Those shiny patent-leather beauties could feed a person for an entire year. (That’s a figure of speech of course; patent leather isn’t particularly palatable or nutritious.)
But hey, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. OK, well maybe just a little. It is pretty crazy when you think about it. Most of us reading this blog live in countries where we need high-powered garbage disposals in our sinks to deal with the excess food we throw away after meals. And we have so much clean drinkable water that we flush hundreds of gallons of it down our toilets each day. Meanwhile, in other countries children walk miles to the local watering well to bring back a bucket of drinkable water. Again, pretty crazy.
But I’ll stop there, before I lose you. Don’t close your browser and start reading your work email. I just wanted to set the stage and introduce you to an amazing brand that you might not be familiar with. The brand in question doesn’t make ridiculously great tasting coffee and muffins. And they won’t offer you a complimentary glass of bubbly or a cold Stella Artois while you try on designer shoes. But they do make the world a better place. And that’s something.
My #BRANDLOVE Story
Direct Relief International is a company who I have been involved with for a number of years… Though technically I’m not actually considered a “customer.” Let me explain. Direct Relief a non-profit organization whose goal is to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest. Originally founded in 1948, with 57 employees worldwide today, Direct Relief has provided 1.5 Billion dollars in aid since 2000 to people in over 72 different countries.
Direct Relief manages and coordinates a partner network of over 130 companies who donate pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and medical equipment to communities in need. Donor companies are able to log on to the portal and donate excess medicines and supplies that they aren’t able to sell. Healthcare providers in the affected communities are then able to log into the Direct Relief network to view inventory and order needed supplies.
This ensures, for example, that a hurricane-stricken community who desperately needs clean drinking water will receive crates of much-needed bottled water rather than e.g., boxes of teddy bears. (Nothing against teddy bears; the author of this blog has a soft brown one named Mr. Snuggles).
The companies who donate the supplies are also able to view and track the location of their donations to ensure that the supplies are reaching the intended destination and helping people in need, and not just languishing in a warehouse or on a dock somewhere. This type of transparency gives peace of mind to the donors and helps foster repeat donations.
Finally, the online portal allows medical professionals to volunteer their time to worthwhile causes. The online system matches medical professional with volunteer opportunities in communities that could benefit from their services. For example, a rich Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon who has made a small fortune injecting wealthy Southern Californians with Botox might feel unfulfilled in his daily work and want to spend a week or two helping vaccinate children against Hepatitis in Nepal.
Sure, there’s something comforting about a hot coffee, a warm muffin, and a luxurious pair of designer shoes (even if the hot coffee sometimes scalds your mouth and the shoes leave your heels with blisters). But there’s also something comforting about knowing that you are helping make the world a better place and impacting the lives of people who you may never meet – but whose gratitude you can feel, even thousands of miles away across deserts, oceans, and mountains.
This blog is part of a series of #BRANDLOVE stories including Decathlon, Adidas, and Costco that will be featured on The Customer Edge. Send some brand love to your favorite business by sharing your positive customer experiences on Twitter or take a selfie with your favorite brand and post to Instagram- don’t forget to tag #BRANDLOVE!