TOMS Donates One-Third of its Profits Toward Creating a Better World

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Spotlight on TOMS

From “One on One” to “One Out of Three”

Starting on the day it was founded in 2006, Toms Shoes—later known more familiarly as TOMS—donated one pair of shoes to a needy person in a developing country for every pair sold. For a profit-minded enterprise, the “one for one” model was daring, revolutionary and potentially risky. But sales increased, the company grew, and TOMS adapted “one for one” to its eyewear and coffee lines when they were launched a few years later.

For every pair of fashion sunglasses sold, TOMS helped restore the sight of a vision-impaired person through funding for medical treatment, prescription eyeglasses or sight-saving surgery, initially in Nepal, Tibet and Cambodia. And for every bag of coffee it sold, the company partnered with the global nonprofit Water For People to provide a week’s worth of clean water for one person.

In TOMS, Carpenter Group recognized a company whose actions are inseparable from its values—a brand that draws equally on the quality of its products and the value it adds to the world.

But here’s the kicker: TOMS no longer does any of those things. “We learned that giving shoes, sight, and safe water was an amazing start to creating meaningful change,” says founder Blake Mycoskie. But in 2020, the company decided that giving impact grants instead would enable it to live its values even more.

“So, rather than giving shoes, we’re giving a third of our profits,” he says. “That’s about as much as a company can give while still keeping the lights on.”

TOMS launched its new giving platform last June where the need was most immediate—COVID relief. For five months, the company allocated one dollar out of every three to its COVID-19 Global Giving Fund, generating $2 million in grant money to organizations providing mental health support, testing and treatment for COVID-19 patients and supplies for healthcare workers in hard-hit, low-resource areas throughout the world.

TOMS has also been a major funder of organizations working to combat racial injustice, systemic racism and gun violence, including Black Lives Matter, Community Justice Action Fund and Cities United. One recipient, Homeboy Industries, is the world’s largest gang rehabilitation program. Corporate relations head Elisa Johnson explains that the organization’s goal is to provide trauma-informed mental healthcare services to formerly gang-involved and incarcerated men, women, and young adults—and to help them change the arc of their lives. “Our partnership with TOMS is enabling us to accomplish that,” she says.

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About Brand Acts of Kindness® 

Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.

The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.

About Carpenter Group

Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.

Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.