Giving Back to Mother Earth with 1% for the Planet’s Melody Badgett

May 16, 2014

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good and we’re so excited to have with us today Melody Badgett. She’s the Managing Director of onepercentfortheplanet.org. Welcome to Green is Good, Melody. MELODY BADGETT: Thank you, John. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Aw, well, before we get talking about your wonderful organization and the great work that you do there, talk a little bit about Melody Badgett. Share with our listeners your journey leading up to this great position. MELODY BADGETT: One Percent for the Planet sits right at the intersection of business and the environment and I say that because I think for me personally, my heart’s always been in the environment and nature and my career path prior to One Percent has always been in business, in the world of consulting and large companies and global reach, all of which was fantastic experience, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t where my heart was and that became really evident to me when I went to Patagonia, the tip of South America about a decade ago. My parents said, ‘You’re going to the end of the world by yourself where you don’t speak the language. What?’ I was on a rafting trip down the Futaleufú with a with a wonderful company called Earth River Expeditions that really focused on highlighting the value of indigenous populations to drive economic growth, rather than damming rivers so very experiential, had local politicians aboard, short story long, spent nearly two weeks in the most incredibly beautiful pristine wilderness rafting, camping, and seeing really no other humans but those on the trip and I got back and I could no longer sit at my desk, quite honestly. It just felt like the problem was too urgent and opportunity too great and the time was now so I joined One Percent in 2007. There were three of us at the time and today our staff is 12 and our reach is 48 countries and I have never looked back. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Unbelievable. That’s a wonderful story and for our listeners out there that want to follow along as we share the story of One Percent, I’m on it right now. It’s a beautiful website, www.onepercentfortheplanet.org. Melody, let’s just step back one little step. How did One Percent even get started? Who started it? How did it get started? MELODY BADGETT: Yes, that’s another very fun story to share. It began on a fishing trip 10 years ago, founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, his best buddy, Craig Matthews, who owns Blue Ribbon Flies in Montana, we’re fishing the Madison and they said, ‘You know what? Every time our companies do something good for the environment, it’s good for our business,’ and companies really have a role to play here. More of them should so the model was conceived. It’s a very simple model of giving 1% of sales every year to causes you care about and it began with Patagonia, stayed there until ’05 and became an independent entity at that time because they saw the momentum and they said this is bigger than one company. It really needs to live on its own. It needs to have a chance to be a global entity and today it’s reaching to 48 countries. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m on your website and like most of our listeners out there, I want to learn how this works. Explain how the basic One Percent for the Planet model works. MELODY BADGETT: Right, the model is simple and I think beautiful in that. If a company is interested to be a part, they simply contact us, let us know their interest, and go through a really easy sign-up to become a member. It’s a ten minute application. It’s a very nominal member dues and then they basically, with that membership, commit to giving 1% of top-line sales every year so that’s a big number, 1% of sales and it’s quite different than profits because it’s year in or year out. It’s whether you’re making money or not. It’s part of your philosophy and what you stand for. Another very unique part of the model is that giving happens directly between the company and the nonprofits. They write the check to the causes they care about. We advise and help per request and then every year, once a year, we certify all of our networks so they send to us receipts saying, ‘We did the giving. It’s at 1% of sales,’ and they tell us their stories of the results of their partnerships with these nonprofits and we certainly engage and help facilitate those when and wherever possible. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s awesome. Are there different ways that companies can get involved besides that basic model or is that it? MELODY BADGETT: Yes, yes, another really great question. The basic model is that membership model, where a company joins but we also realize the environmental problem and the crisis, it’s a big one and that means we need a network that’s big and inclusive and available for companies of all sizes to participate so not only can you join as a company but you can join as a brand or you can join as a product line and these options make it very accessible for companies of real-size, billion-dollar companies who have brand in the multimillions or product lines in the several-million-dollar range can be a part because of these iterations and they’re really important to the reach and the resources of the network. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is great. Okay so some shameless plugs here. Talk a little bit about some of the bigger accomplishments of One Percent for the Planet. MELODY BADGETT: We just reached our ten year mark so entering our second decade and second stage of growth. One thing that feels really amazing about those first ten years is the fact that the network of now just over 1,100 companies throughout that decade has given 100,000,000 to causes and that’s a pretty cool milestone to achieve. Yvon, our founder, will tell you in one breath, ‘Yes, that is amazing. We never thought we’d get here,’ and then in another breath, ‘That is just the tip of the iceberg,’ and he’s absolutely right but it feels good to make a start because less than 2% of all giving goes to the environment and less than 4% comes from companies and that’s the case today so that’s an enormous need. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is and that’s a wonderful neon sign for, like you said, the journey, a great marker for where you’ve been and a great beginning for where you’re going to go and so let’s go back and talk a little bit about philosophy of the organization though. So you’re talking about businesses giving 1%. As you say, Melody, that’s a sizable number for whatever your business is and then the intersection with environmental nonprofits. In many settings, that seems a little bit like strange bedfellows. Talk about why that could be also magical and why it could be great and why it works for how you’ve married up these organizations. MELODY BADGETT: Strange bedfellows that should know each other better, right? And I think it can be a really beautiful marriage, honestly, because you have one entity, the company, that has vast resources, that has a lot of power and influence and then you have another entity, the nonprofit, that’s on the ground doing amazing work at the grassroots level really making change happen and if you could marry those two, if you can get influence and resources funneled toward that very positive change that’s happening, the opportunity is vast so I think that’s what we see here and the power of strategic philanthropy for companies. It has to be a good business decision because some companies are capitalist and put that first, especially if they’re publicly traded. They have a bottom line to uphold and it needs to be a good business decision for them and if you do philanthropy well, if you’re strategic about it, if you create a portfolio that aligns in the countries or communities in which you operate with the issues that tie to your product and your supply chain, it can be a very rich and meaningful story and it can add depth and dimension to your brand. It can create something with which your customer wishes to align and be a part and we’ve seen historically the impetus of values oriented customers to really support companies who care about something more. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So let’s give some shout-outs here. I want you to share some of your more proud examples of partnerships that happen in your network today so we can hopefully inspire our listeners who are teetering on wanting to get involved and wanting to do something like this. Explain some of what you’ve seen really work out there. MELODY BADGETT: Great question and I’ll say in our second phase of growth, in our next 10 years, we are thinking a whole lot about impact and so much more than just writing a check but how do we really enable that change? Because as a network and the more we grow, the more we should be able to do together what we cannot do alone so on the one hand, some very good examples to share and on the other, I think we’re very excited for where it will go and how it will build. These partnerships, they can happen at a bunch of different levels. They might be one on one with a company and a nonprofit or they might be pulling many constituents of the network around an issue they care about so I’ll share an example of both of those. The first, there’s a company called Caudalie. They are a beautiful company, French based with a presence in I think about 25 countries and a significant growing presence in the U.S. and they make natural skin care products and when they joined One Percent two years ago, they said, ‘ Everything we stand for is about the environment and sustainability and we’re ready to give back and we haven’t done that yet and we want to be really strategic about it so help us,’ and in one year, they contributed over a million in brand giving to the environment and we, along with them, helped to build a portfolio that was very thoughtful about balancing. They gave a lot to reforestation because they used paper products in packaging and they gave a lot to protection around palm oil production to save elephants and tigers because of the palm ingredient in their product but they wanted to be really mindful, create projects with impact, track results, and tell a story that would inspire other companies to be a part and they have a beautiful presence on their website that does just that and have really been a role model for other companies and beautifully so, as well that company is growing because consumers really see a lot of value and love to align with companies who stand for things like that. A bigger example, more broadly, network wide is in the water space. We have engaged with several companies and nonprofits around something called Change the Course and it’s focused on the Colorado River and putting water, millions of gallons of water, back in the Colorado so that it can actually reach the sea again. It’s galvanized. Bonneville Environmental is the lead nonprofit on it and it’s galvanized lots of companies like Silk and Coca-Cola and National Geographic is a big player and participant in media. It is one of the social media players that plays a part and what they’ve done is bring these companies together and One Percent has been instrumental in helping recruit the companies and get others in our network to be a part of this as well and all are coming together around a social media platform to really build awareness on the Colorado and enable individuals all over the country to take action via pledges and really smart clever social media outreach. They might email an individual and say, ‘Did you know your closet is flooding?’ and you open that and it tells you, ‘It takes 740 gallons of water to make every T-shirt in your closet and then lead you very thoughtfully through here are the things you can do in your life to reduce your water footprint so very actionable and Bonneville is also doing key water projects all over the country that actually put water back into the Colorado so when you make a pledge as an individual, you tie directly to the result and the aim of more clean water and a full flowing river and it’s getting a lot of traction because of the magnitude of the players involved, the reach they have, and their ability to really clearly share and tell the story in a very actionable way. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it. And so for our listeners out there that just joined us, we’ve got Melody Badgett on right now. She’s the Managing Director for One Percent for the Planet. It’s www.onepercentfortheplanet.org. Talk a little bit about this, Melody. There’s lots of environmental groups out there. They seem to be sprouting up from everywhere. How do you get involved with a certain amount of groups and qualify them and what’s your unique approach to marrying up those groups with the businesses that are donating? MELODY BADGETT: Very good questions all. The screen for the organizations to be approved in the One Percent network is a really simple one and that’s intentional because our desire is to be inclusive and to get funds to as many organizations who are doing good work as possible. The primary lens for us there is an organization whose work is at least half-focused in sustainability and the environment and that’s important too because we know that doesn’t happen in isolation so there might be social or economic elements but those things together, when they’re working in collaboration, tend to really make change so that’s our primary lens. I think the unique part of the network where it really comes to bear of gauging effective nonprofits and who of all that are out there are really moving the needle, the network votes with its dollars, if you will, so the giving that happens from those 1,100 companies every year goes to those nonprofits who are effective through those who are sound financially and doing unique things in the marketplace because that’s where the companies want to align and support and that’s evidence so I think it’s a really unique way that the network can communicate. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Melody, we’ve got four minutes left and you have such an amazing organization where I could stay on with you for about two hours today and just keep chatting because I’m just fascinated by all this great work you’re doing and how you’re marrying up deserving nonprofits with really mission based businesses that have really visionary leaders. Talk a little bit about, for our listeners out there, how they can get involved, how individuals can get involved with your wonderful organization. MELODY BADGETT: Yes. Individuals are hugely important. In fact, at the end of the day, all change really starts with the individual. They’re the consumer of the company. They’re the supporter of the nonprofit. Look at Laurie David. She was one woman and because of her voice, Al Gore decided to make Inconvenient Truth and because of that, the whole country has much better awareness of the environmental crisis than they ever did before so really powerful and we’ve engaged with the consumer over the years in the vein of creating and sharing in music albums, something very accessible. The artist gave us rare and exclusive music and by sharing that with individuals, they could hear it and share it online with their friends, and download it in a very green way. It was all digital on Amazon and iTunes and we said there’s something there. That’s really powerful. We need to equip and enable that individual. Today at this moment, consumers can give back to the organization. That’s easy, right there online. they can support values oriented companies that are really caring about and demonstrating through their giving the planet, Patagonia and Clif Bar and New Belgium Brewing and Mountain Equipment Coop., these are all members who have wonderful customer followings that are really closely tied to that and then going forward, we this year are really excited about stepping up our ability to engage with individuals in a really meaningful and lasting way. I’d say be on the lookout going forward. We’re going on a big chunk of Jack Johnson’s U.S. tour with him. He was our fiftieth member and just living example of a beautiful person that cares about the planet in everything they do and we are blessed and fortunate to have him as a part of the network but just to show up alongside them. They’re incredibly passionate, he and his wife, Kim Johnson, about plastic-free living and about getting healthy foods to kids in schools and educating them about the environment so we are lining up with them at their concerts in person to talk to fans individually and via social media to engage those fans in really accessible ways that they care about these things too and we’re, on our partnership agenda, and that impact equation, thinking a lot about how do we do that. How do we make this environmental equation really easy for individuals to participate in and enable them to make change too? So more to come. Hopefully we have our sights on an individual program at One Percent so an individual can really be a regular and ongoing part and we’re excited to see how that unfolds. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is really awesome, and we’re down to the last minute or so, so any one or two companies or three or four companies you want to give a shout-out to for our listeners to support that are great supporters of One Percent for the Planet? MELODY BADGETT: Yes. Many of those we’ve talked about are really great ones to align with. Horney Toad is another that’s a new member of the network we’re really excited about, Ahnu Footwear. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Well perfect, Melody. I’m going to have you back and we’re going to continue to talk about the next ten years of One Percent for the Planet. For our listeners out there, www.onepercentfortheplanet.org. Get involved and help make the world a better place. Thank you, Melody, for making the planet a better place for all of us. You are truly living proof that green is good. MELODY BADGETT: Oh thank you, John.