"1.4 billion people in our world live in extreme poverty. Meanwhile Australians spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on bottled water, food, soap and other consumer goods. What if purchasing these everyday products could provide life-changing solutions to people in need? This is why we exist."
For a consumer products organisation, this would have to be regarded as an unusual mantra. In fact, unlike other suppliers of similar products, Thankyou is a social enterprise that creates life changing products.
Essentially the organisation runs like any other business – with the main difference being that it exists 100% for its cause. After all the costs involved in creating and marketing its products are taken care of, every cent left funds projects to help those who need it.
Back in 2008, a small group of uni students were reflecting on their life situations, working on their ‘five-year life plans’ with all sorts of dreams and aspirations. Yet, they were struck by the contrasting reality that 900 million people around the world at that time did not even have access to safe water. At the same time, they learned that Australians spend a crazy $600 million annually on bottled water, a bizarre concept considering that we have some of the world's best water available free from the tap.
From a bold idea...
Co-founder and Finance and Operations Director, Jarryd Burns explains, "Along came the bold idea to join these two extremes together. What about starting a bottled water company that would exist for the sole purpose of funding safe water projects in developing nations? Our thinking was, and still is, if you prefer to drink bottled water, drink ours! By choosing our products (we now have a body care range and food range, alongside our water) Australians are able to contribute to great projects around the globe that are changing lives.”
From beginnings in Thankyou Water, which is still a major product line, other possibilities became apparent. Jarryd says, "With the success of Thankyou Water, we also saw that access to food and hygiene and sanitation programs were lacking in so many other parts of the world." As a result, Thankyou’s new product lines, Thankyou Food and Thankyou Body Care, each respectively provide access to food and hygiene solutions in developing countries. "We have two food programs running that are funded through our food range. Food For Now which funds immediate food relief for communities disrupted by famine, war and other disasters and Food For Future which funds projects that produce long-term, sustainable food availability. And through Thankyou Body Care, we are able to fund hygiene and sanitation projects that empower communities and equip them with the knowledge and utilities to promote long-term behavioural change."
With boots on the ground
Thankyou supports projects proposed by any non-government organisation (NGO) that is a signatory of the ACFID Code of Conduct. Each project is carefully scrutinised to ensure it meets Thankyou's strict list of requirements. Funding is then allocated to the mission partner who provides "boots on the ground".
Track Your Impact™
Mission partners are required to provide regular project reports to Thankyou who then make the information available to Thankyou customers via its unique web app, Track Your Impact.
Jarryd explains, "We see ourselves as a movement, and consider all our customers as part of the same movement that is changing the world for the better. So we came up with the Track Your Impact idea to connect each customer directly with the impact they make every time they purchase a Thankyou product." Whilst the technology is incredibly complex, the rich user experience (available on either your phone or computer through visiting the company’s website) is very simple and highly informative. It clearly describes how each product is making an impact.
(It is very impressive and a lot of "serious" fun to play with. But just don't take my word for it, give it a quick go. Ed.)
Saward Dawson is very pleased to be partnering with Thankyou, through the provision of professional services, as part of our commitment to corporate social responsibility and our broad involvement in the charity and not-for-profit sector. Our team at Saward Dawson are also learning a lot from this young and energetic organisation. Thankyou is bringing a fresh approach to funding for some very worthwhile projects.
A quick look at their website (thankyou.co) and you will realise that Thankyou's ethical principles underlie every aspect of their "movement model". A bold idea of a few uni students has turned into a movement "that exists to empower the everyday Australian to make a difference through a simple choice within their everyday life." Widely available in major supermarkets across Australia, give their products a try, and don't forget to Track Your Impact.