Redefining Philanthropy: How Altruism Became Trendy

When one thinks of philanthropy, the ideas of community service and outreach come to mind. Whether it is teaching students a new language or cooking meals for the less fortunate, philanthropy is used as a vehicle to get in touch with those who do not have access to the same resources as the volunteers.

But recently, society has learned that such outreach need not be direct. People can aid those in need through the creation of companies, in which the proceeds go towards supporting volunteers who conduct community service work. These companies simply serve as platforms from which volunteers can directly work with those in need while providing different communities with the resources necessary to succeed.    

One industry that has capitalized on this business model is jewelry. Examples include partnerships with organizations to have special promotions or creation of companies entirely based off of a community service mission. According to HuffPost, ever since the Livestrong bracelet became popular amongst consumers, jewelry promoting altruistic causes have been trendy. The source deems Joye, Stella & Dot, The Brave Collection, Bravelets, and Lokai as the five most popular bracelets for charity. To further understand the connection between these bracelets’ business model and their charitable mission, we can look at The Brave Collection.  

According to The Brave Collection’s website, Jessica Hendricks Lee founded her bracelet enterprise after traveling to Cambodia to explore “indigenous cultures and spirituality.” From there, she became exposed to the country’s turbulent history, as well as its allure. Out of her love for jewelry and her desire to pursue philanthropic work to help Cambodia, she created The Brave Collection. The jewelry is handmade by Cambodian artists, and ten percent of its proceeds go to Free to Shine Cambodia, which works to curb human trafficking.

The Brave Collection is an example of how entrepreneurs are tapping into community service work: connecting with regional artists, engaging with novel cultures, and reaching out to organizations. Jewelry-making has essentially become a foundation to shed light on an issue affecting communities around the globe.

The social-minded facet of the jewelry also inspires individuals’ creativity. For example, the Lokai bracelet has mud from the Dead Sea and water from Mount Everest, in an effort to have customers think about balance. In addition, the different colors of the beads are associated with the charities they support, according to Business Insider. The Lokai bracelet has raised $4 million for charities since its debut in 2013 and is a favorite amongst celebrities.

The popularity of innovation has surely given rise to the evolution of its definition. As I see these businesses redefine philanthropy, I can only imagine how the next generation will redefine innovation.