Filanthropists.com is a play on its founders name — Filomena Laforgia — who became acquainted with the concept of cause marketing after her own son was diagnosed with autism back in 2003 (see image of Filomena and her son, above). According to Mrs. Laforgia, the help and support she received from autism-related organizations profoundly “changed the landscape” of her life. As Filomena puts it, “suddenly I had a passion for a cause.”
Given her background in marketing and promotion, she wanted to find a creative way to give back and provide support to these nonprofit organizations. She was aware that some products were already affiliated with philanthropic causes. However, it was often unclear the extent to which the causes were related to the products, and vice versa. In her desire to make these connections more transparent — and provide both the causes and the products with more visible and tangible co-branding — she created the startup venture known as Filanthropists.com. It launched to coincide with National Autism Awareness Month in April, 2011.
The e-commerce based website now unites nonprofit organizations, advocacy causes, and product vendors who’d like to donate some of the proceeds of the sales of their products to those causes. Filanthropists.com takes a small percentage of the transactions — but only after sales are made. “Accomplish something first, then you can be rewarded for it,” Laforgia says.
What Needs Does it Address?
Filanthropists.com provides an online marketplace that benefits all parties concerned. Causes and nonprofits can gain greater exposure and financial support, brands can sell more products and help support social causes at the same time, and consumers can feel better knowing that at least some of the products they’re purchasing are contributing to a greater good.
“These days, people are spending less, but they’re spending smarter,” says Mrs. Laforgia. In other words, consumers tend to be much more conscious as to where their disposable incoming is going. “But people still have to buy things,” says Laforgia, “so why not offer them products that have some residual value.”
On the Filanthropists.com website, socially conscious consumers can search for products by physical category (apparel , books, jewelry), by nonprofit organization (Autism Speaks, CODEPINK), or by cause (AIDS, Animal Rights, Environment). The website also “seeks to celebrate individuals who have chosen to make a difference.” Consumers can upload their photos and include brief explanations about why they chose to support their particular causes.
Each charity, nonprofit and cause listed on the site also gets its own detailed bio page with links to company websites, blogs, and so on. Filanthropists.com provides a complete e-commerce solution for all of its charities. This means the nonprofit groups can focus on their core missions without having to worry about creating e-commerce infrastructures of their own.
In some cases, Filanthropists.com even creates products to sell on behalf of its nonprofits. For example, Laforgia and her team have partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to provide advocacy T-shirts for sale on the Filanthropists.com website.