Despite the United States’ distinctive ethos of philanthropy (shaped strongly by Christianity), the emergence of The Giving Pledge, and the proliferation of enormous charitable foundations, Americans still give an average of just around 2% of GDP to charitable causes. To be sure, a variety of factors contribute to this stagnation: media-driven visions of the good life, Mammon’s hold on our hearts, and doubts about tax-exempt organizations’ ability to make a real difference. Even in an era where organizations like charity:water and social giving platforms have brought sophisticated marketing to major causes, Americans rarely demonstrate anything close to genuinely sacrificial giving.
We are interested in ventures thinking creatively about reducing “generosity friction” in people’s hearts, minds, and wallets. Not only will this help particular causes, it could also transform the spirit of the age: as the saying goes, “you’ve never met an angry, bitter, generous person.”
In today’s commercially-driven world people are more likely to be seen and referred to as 'consumers' than anything else. Instead of being met with resistance, this shift has often meant that individuals have formed their identity through a composite of brands, and product purchasing can be guided more by the desire to make a statement about one’s identity and values than strict utility. As a result, the lines between social movement, capitalism, and community are increasingly blurry (see: Nike, Whole Foods, and Patagonia).
Given this reality (which is with us for both better and worse), we’d like to support entrepreneurs with a vision for building brands with a counter-culturally virtuous and optimistic view of the world, spreading hope and beauty, eliminating stigma, and most fundamentally, redirecting our identity away from materialistic consumption and toward lasting contentment.