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Who is doing good business?

I read that a 2006 study of 251 businesses proved that charitable contributions enhances revenue growth. Not surprisingly, it helps consumer companies most.

So I started thinking about myself, a consumer, and what I care about. I have spent my career working with culture, but I am passionate about urban planning. I have no degrees. I just have experience living in cities (Columbus OH, Austin TX, Washington DC, Hanover GERMANY, Aix-en-Province FRANCE) and have traveled extensively around the world (sometimes on a bike). I appreciate cities that are built for people because I love walking and biking.

That makes me a consumer of shoes and bikes.

First, bikes: I'm NOT one of those people with a bunch of pretty bikes in the basement. I just ride a bike to get places and I always have. I realize now that I'm unusual for my generation (I was born in the mid-seventies) because I actually biked in high school. I had panniers and went touring in Acadia with my parents. They still make fun of me for not using my gears efficiently on those crazy big mountains, but my legs were young.

I have always just had one, highly functional but not very pretty bike. More important to me is bike gear. There is a Madison-based company called Planet Bike that makes great stuff (lights and fenders, etc). So I look on their website and find "Planet Bike helps out by donating 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy groups." I see someone from the company serves on the board of the League of American Bicycles. The average company in America gives less than 1% of its annual pretax income to charity.

I have far less to say about shoes. This little exercise, however, has brought to my attention a local business I've never been to but have known about for years. Reading about Movin' Shoes makes me want to support them because they promise both good deals and a really good mission. And seeing that they've been around since 1975, when "the only way to purchase running shoes was by mail order," I'm sure some graduate student could do a research paper on how their business has shaped the city into what it is today

I wonder if these two businesses can correlate their annual pretax net income with their annual giving program? What is the difference between an irrelevant and flimsy giving program and an effective and meaningful corporate contributions program? 

Strategy. Process. Relevance to both society AND the company! Create more consumers for your product by making the world into a place where your product makes sense. Duh. 

But what if I don't like the world where your product makes sense?

People I believe in, doing good business in Madison:

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