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Giving Back With Every Purchase with Molly Trerotola, Head of Social Impact, Shopping Gives

Molly Trerotola, Head of Social Impact at Shopping Gives pictured in front of their ecommerce site.

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In this episode you will learn how many leading brands from Coach and Kenneth Cole to Almond Cow plant-based milks and Beast and Buckle pet-care items have become a part of the giving economy by integrating Shopping Gives technology into their selling platforms. This means they can easily support charities that matter to them through their shopping carts!

Visit the YouTube video for a sneak-peak into the Shopping Gives platform in the last 5 minutes of the video, starting at 23:17 in which we demonstrate how easy it is to select mindful brands from which to shop — so your dollars can make a difference.

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Giving Back With Every Purchase with Molly Trerotola, Head of Social Impact, Shopping Gives

Today, we’re going to talk about doing more good with your money as you shop for everyday items, clothing, and even jewelry. As we meet our guest Mali tree, Rotolo of shopping gifts. Molly is a dedicated social impact leader who builds strategic partnerships, products, and programs for good her experience spans technology, digital fundraising, and corporate social responsibility.

She is currently head of social impact at shopping Gibbs. And this is an e-commerce platform that creates purposeful and profitable relationships between brands and non-profits. Her work has even been featured in Forbes, Chronicle of philanthropy and NPC, Molly. Welcome to the show. How are you today?

Hi, I’m doing well. How are you? Thank you for having me here.

It’s really great to have you here. You know, I’m just so passionate about trying to do good even when you shop for everyday items. So, that’s really a fun topic, but looking over your LinkedIn, I learned a little bit more about you. You have worked with some pretty big companies to build their cause parks.

Including the drug company, Pfizer, who I think everyone knows now due to, well, the COVID vaccine, right. And even PayPal you’ve collaborated with some really impactful not-for-profits like the Malala fund refugees international and do something. It’s all awesome experience and I want to know more about it, but I also learned that you’re into salsa.

You’re a salsa dancer. I just love to know how are you keeping this salsa dancing up now I’m in the streets of Brooklyn or wherever.

Okay, well, transparently I’m not, it’s like the least COVID friendly activity. It’s definitely taken a back seat in the last couple of years, but it was a huge part of my life before the pandemic.

I was on a salsa team in Brooklyn for about four years. And I actually got my. Foray into salsa started when I was living in Lima, Peru working for a global health non-profit, which was also my first foray into the social impact world. So it coincided next.

Yeah, I figured there had to be some connection for sure.

It’s really nice to learn that! I actually learned to do a bit of salsa dancing when I was in college and used to go. There was like a church in downtown Santa Cruz that would host salsa a couple nights a week and you’d go and just, you know, pick a partner and dance. So it was a lot of fun. 

Oh, and I bet it was the most fun.

Yeah, it’s a, it’s a really wonderful activity. And especially in New York, there’s this, great subculture of Latin dance where you end up running into the same people and it’s just such a rich part of the city.

I’d love to learn what set you on this path and why you’re so focused now on shopping as a fundraising tool for impact.

Yeah. So I got my start in social impact, actually working for a nonprofit in south America. I was helping manage their fundraising communications to generate more support for the organization. And then I segwayed into corporate social responsibility calling back to what you referenced with with Pfizer.

So helping to manage their nonprofit partnerships and digital campaigns, specifically around their advancement of the UN sustainable development goals. And. Area has really opened my eyes to the positive impact that companies can have on driving change and and social causes forward. But I really wanted to go back to supporting nonprofits directly.

Equal Rights For Others Doesn't Mean Fewer Rights For You -- It's Not Pie
Equal Rights For Others Doesn’t Mean Fewer Rights For You — It’s Not Pie — Image courtesy of Unsplash

And that’s where I got my start in tech for good. I helped launch a philanthropist funded fundraising platform called give lively and which is now supporting maybe 15 to 20,000 nonprofits. But I quickly learned the technological challenges that nonprofits face, especially when it comes to fundraising and the immense opportunity that companies can play in helping diversify nonprofits, fundraising, revenue, and work with organizations creatively to support their mission critical work.

And that leads me to where I am today as head of social impact at shopping gives, which is harnessing the power of e-commerce and applying it to nonprofit fundraising. Creating really unique and, and valuable connections between brands and non-profits capitalizing off of our existing consumer behavior to support nonprofits in a really meaningful.

Well, I did spend a bit of time poking around shopping gives just to get a feel. I was really surprised to see certain really well known and high-end brands. I don’t know why I was surprised just because I, I don’t really associate Coach as a, for example, with social impact. And I don’t necessarily you know, associate Steve Madden, let’s say with social impact.

I think some of these high-end brands, I get it. It isn’t. The center for them and what they have been doing and maybe perhaps that is changing. But I did see some other brands that I expected to see, like Dr. Bronner’s. I mean, they are just through and through very focused on impact or almond cow, because again, like, you know, it’s, it’s replacing dairy with an almond milk that you can make at home.

So I was curious to know. How does this company vet brands, or how do you design the social programs? Because overall, I mean, there’s probably 20 that I was able to review on your site, something in that ballpark. But you know, not a ton. So I was hoping you could tell me a little bit more about how you select the brands that you will work with, what kinds of criteria they have to meet so that if shoppers go there, they get some sort of a purview and.

You know, the, the level of the bar that you’re holding up for them, so to speak.

Your observation brings up I really unique element about our technology, which is that it can service brands of all shapes and sizes from single run Shopify stores, like mom and pop shops, all the way up to a luxury multi-billion dollar brand, like Coach who, you know, you might not Off the bat associate with social impact, but that’s a Testament to why they’re using our technology in the first place.

It’s been bed, social impact, more closely within their e-commerce journey and afford their customers the opportunity to really engage in their social impact programs. We are fortunate to work with. Over 2000 retailers, again, of all shapes and sizes. And you know what we like to say about our, our giving economy, our brand community is they’re all purpose-driven in some way or another.

You know, whether it’s from having a social impact, lean within their business in general, like Dr. Bronner’s or or B corporations that you might associate with social impact more. Obviously to companies who are just getting their feet wet in philanthropy and are leveraging our technology as a useful resource to do so, having the ability to donate to any of the 1.8 million 5 0 1 C3 is in our database.

So our tech really helps organize really helps brands embed that social impact more closely into their business.

So how do people find out which brands you’re working with? Because you mentioned a couple thousand, but I only saw a couple of dozen on your website.

Yeah. So that’s a great question. We do feature a snapshot of our brand partners on our website, but we’re primarily a B2B e-commerce platform in the future.

We might have a brand marketplace that’s customer facing where customers can view the brands that use our technology and specifically the ones that let their customers choose, which non-profits to give to at this time, we don’t have that all encompassing marketplace, but if. If customers were curious to see what premier brands are in our giving economy, they can of course see that snapshot on our site.

Very cool. Yeah. I did also poke around. I’m looking at the not-for-profits. My father-in-law has a, not-for-profit called the Corneal Dystrophy Foundation. I did see that it was listed there, so it seems like a fairly comprehensive list.

In our database, we have all 1.8 million, 501 C3. So, that’s registered non-profits that are in good standing with the IRS in our database.

And our intention there is to really democratize philanthropy. So give all of the brands who are using our tech the opportunity to donate to any nonprofit that they’re passionate about, but then also if they let their customers choose who to donate to. Encompass any non-profit that their customers might feel passionately about, whether that be UNICEF or feeding America, very well-known organizations or the soup kitchen down the road in their, in their hometown.

Very cool. Now I’ve featured a couple of not-for-profits that are somewhat similar to your model in the past and early episodes of care more be better. One of them was Masami Sato’s buy one, give one or B one G one.com where they match companies to appropriate, not for profits. And then. A hundred percent of the donation actually goes to the not-for-profit.

So can you tell me a little bit about how your tech works? So just my audience can hear a little bit more about what makes it unique.

Yeah. I think the best comparison for our technology while it has a much higher monetary impact is the Amazon smile. Well where individuals make purchase. And as part of their purchase, the brand they’re buying from makes a donation, a percentage of that product purchase to either a nonprofit of the brand’s choosing or a nonprofit of the customer’s choosing.

So it’s a portion of that. Purchase. And these are micro donations that add up to be a really significant source of funding for nonprofits over time. So it’s unlike an individual making a one-time donation to a nonprofit on their website individuals. When they shop at brands who use our technology can make these micro impacts and brands who have already committed this funding can really involve their customers in the, in the social impact journey that they’re creating.

Don't just take, give.
Don’t just take, give. Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

Our tech really allows brands and nonprofits to customize the giving strategy based on, you know, what they want to do so they can donate a percentage per purchase. A set dollar amount brands can create a, what we call a capsule collection, which is a collection of. Is that are dedicated to a specific non-profit.

So if you can imagine all purple products on a website going to the Alzheimer’s association or all the pink products going to Susan G Komen that’s something brands can really do to engage their customers in a unique and a unique way. And then also they can ask their customers to further support the effort by adding an add on donation or a Roundup donation to that additional contribution.

So, you know, we see our technology and the. Therapeutic side of corporate social responsibility where brands might be dedicating this money to nonprofits and news. And I integrating with our technology, they’re really involving customers in the process. And then they also have an opportunity to to see.

What philanthropy preferences their customers have if they let customers choose. So a brand could really learn a lot about their, their customer base. Like, oh, we see that customers of this age are more likely to give to environmental causes or they’re really supportive of of like women empowerment or international aid.

And we’ll help these brands better direct their CSR efforts.

Now just perusing the causes. I saw outright action international had been paid out thus far $235,000 using your platform. Is that the, the largest contribution thus far? Because it shows up first and then it looks like it’s in a declining level.

So I was just kind of curious about that and also enthused to see the transparency.

Yeah, it’s certainly one of the the largest grants we’ve made to nonprofits. So the way it works is our brand partners actually donate directly to the shopping gives foundation, which is a us registered charity. And then the.

Foundation we’ll grant those funds to the organization, the non-profit that the brand pledged the money to. A lot of the times, you know, those larger donations are actually from existing partnerships that nonprofits have with brand partners. So. Just because outright international is one of the highest earning non-profits on our platform.

It doesn’t mean that all of the brands are supporting outright international, although they showed it’s a wonderful organization. It may just mean that they have a specific partnership with a brand that is giving them a higher amount. But you know, other high earning organizations include UNICEF and feeding America and mental health coalition because they’re highly supported by Kenneth Cole.

Yeah, I hope that answers your question.

It was actually a little bit of discovery for me too, because I wasn’t aware of all of these. I have done programs in the past with feeding America, as for example, I have also worked in collaboration with the Surfrider foundation and typically organize a beach cleanups here each September in collaboration with Surfrider foundation.

So there were a couple I was very familiar with and then some I hadn’t heard of before. So it was really kind of nice to go through that early set. And think about who I might want to even bring on this podcast to talk about the things that they’re doing to… 

oh yeah. Well, if you need any introductions we have really wonderful relationships with the nonprofits in our database with many of them.

So if you need any intros, I’m happy to make those for.

Hey, I’ll always take it. You know, I, having interesting conversations about the hard work that they’re doing, one of my favorites really is the vitamin angels and I didn’t get a chance to actually search for them in your database. Are you familiar with them?

Yes, I am. I actually just had a call with them last month. Yeah. So Howard Schiffer and vitamin angels. I mean, they have already, essentially. And did nutrition-related infant blindness. So now their new goal is to end nutrition-related infant mortality, which is also a tall ask, but something that they think they can do in the next 20 years, which is incredible.

I’ve known Howard Schiffer for years and years, and the work he’s doing there is just so thoughtful and so seated in, in, in just this real true raw. Need to do good. And so all of the people that work there with him at the office in Santa Barbara are just, I’m big fans of their work. Let’s put it that.

And it’s those individual stories that inspires the foundation of shopping gives. Of course, we built our technology. Our technology is built to scale, to support. The 1.8 million nonprofits of all sizes and brands of all sizes, but it’s those, those individual human interest stories. When we hear about the impact, our technology is helping nonprofits make that’s what keeps us.

Yeah, well, they’ve done some very big alliances with retailers like Walgreens. I think Walgreens, Walgreens boots Alliance is still their biggest contributor, but I’ve participated over the years in my early career with Nordic naturals and then with super nutrition, which is now a now foods company and also.

Personally donated to them many times over the years, I am part of the bull Lizzie women’s foundation, which each year we nominate a charity to donate our surplus funds to which is typically an Allah. The, the writer on that is that it has to go to a charity that benefits women and children. Vitamin angels fits that bill pretty nicely.

I’ve selected a couple others since, but typically, you know, each year it’s 500 to a thousand dollars going to these incredible charities. And each year the fund grows a little bit and we continue to pay it forward. 

That’s just wonderful. Yeah, that sounds great.

Fantastic. So, is there anything in particular that you want to highlight, like a story of impact that you’ve seen come to play specifically through the work of shopping gives or just in your past careers?

Yeah, I think you know, something that’s really something we’re working on at shopping gives that it’s really exciting to me personally. But also feeds into this larger CSR trend is fundraising opportunities for brands. We’re in a really critical time right now, which at shopping gives, we like to call it the great retail reset we’re in the last couple of years, brands have really had a reckoning and an understanding that philanthropy social impact is no longer a nice to have.

It’s a requirement for the company to be successful. Of course, we would hope that brands give back out of the kindness of their heart, but if it also supports their bottom line, then. All the better. And, and now it’s a requirement. So we are seeing a significant uptick in brands, not only coming to us, wanting to use the technology, but also looking for guidance in what causes to give back to.

And we saw this incredible opportunity to create fundraising, milestones and opportunities that really galvanize the brand community. So we’ve recently launched what we’re calling brand. Lesions that either support a single nonprofit or a handful of work or of organizations around a certain cause area that brands can kind of latch onto and and help get behind.

And they, these opportunities really. You know, I’ll allow brands to come together and pool their efforts and join a larger movement instead of having their social impact be siloed or like heavily distributed and, and not really focused on a single organization or a single cause area. So it’s been a really inspiring and.

And great opportunity to help drive the social impact of our brand partners. And we’re really looking to scale these efforts in the future, having more direct partnerships with nonprofits and creating these campaigns that brands can fundraise around. So I think that’s both like looking back what has been exciting about the last year and then looking forward what were enthusiastic.

All right. So I’m curious if there’s any question that I haven’t asked that you wish I had. And if not, if there is a particular thought that you’d like to leave our audience with?

A lot of brands want to know how to get started. They think there’s a perfect time to launch social impact initiatives, or they have to really get their footing before they can focus their efforts on, on doing good. And my answer is there is no good time that the best time is now to get started on social impact.

Not only because it’s good for your business and it’s good for the world, but companies have this. Responsibility to leverage their products and resources and supply chains to do good. The corporate world really has to step up to the plate and help drive social causes forward. And it doesn’t matter the size of your brand or the resources you have. Any size of company can start doing good and really am embedded into their business model. there’s no good time. The good time.

Right. Well, you did mention too, the ability to round up and just have that small amount go into something, or even allowing the consumer the choice of which charity that they were giving to with their purchase.

So I think all of those things make it more manageable. That’s very good. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well, at this point, I would like to just thank you, Molly, for coming on the show. This has been incredibly informative. And for anybody who is watching this on YouTube, I will encourage you to go ahead and stay tuned after the close, because we are going to do a deep dive into the shopping Gibbs website.

If you’re listening to this podcast on any platform, you can go to our YouTube page, which is simply. Youtube.com/c/care more. Be better, or just click on the link in show notes.

As always, I’ll be sure to include items that we discussed in  show notes. Now it’s time for that simple ask. I’d love it. If all of you would share this episode. It’s through thoughtful stories, like this one with Molly today that we can all seek to build a better world.

And one in which your shopping dollars can actually do more good together. We can create the future we want, and I encourage you all to visit our action page on care more. Be better.com there you will get ideas and causes that we’d like you to support lean into. Stay curious, ask questions and get involved.

Thank you listeners now. And always for being a part of this pod and this community, because together we really can do so much more. We can care more and we can be better. We can even regenerate earth.

 

BONUS CONTENT IN YOUTUBE FEED, starting at 23:17

Thank you for joining this YouTube feed. I am joined today by Molly. who we just had the pleasure of interviewing on our podcast. And I’m going to go ahead now and share with you their website so that we can each dig in and discover a little bit more about shopping Gibbs. And so I’m going to go ahead and share that screen now so we can all take a view.

So here, you’ll see the shopping gives platform. Molly, walk us through it a little bit, just so that we can each kind of understand what you see here from the company.

Yeah. Well, I first want to point out that the titles you see on the top for businesses, for shoppers, for nonprofits, this really highlights the triangular model of shopping gives where we’re supporting businesses, nonprofits, and customers to make impact with every action through their everyday shopping. Really this website is intended to be an educational resource for businesses to learn about how they can leverage our technology to support causes.

They’re passionate about that their customers are passionate about. And then for shoppers, if you click that. And then if you do explore causes, this will take you to our comprehensive database of the 1.8 million 5 0 1 C3 us registered non-profits that are in our database and also the funds that we’ve been able to grant these organizations.

So yeah, if you type in your favorite nonprofit, either a local one or a national one, it should pop up.

So I just typed in vitamin angels because of the fact that I’m such a big fan of them and it doesn’t look like you’ve yet participated in a fundraiser around them. So perhaps I’ll be the first who knows.

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So there are a lot of organizations in our database that have raised a significant amount of funding because there’s a brand that supports them directly. So the brand has selected to support the single nonprofit through the, the impact of shopping on their website.

And then other nonprofits may have earned a, a smaller amount and that’s For brands that let customers choose these non-profits are selected by the individual customers when they check out. And those are micro donations that do add up, but they’re still micro impact.

So let’s go to discover the stores because I know you feature a smattering.

It’s a couple of dozen brands here. So how did you specifically select the brands that you would feature.

That’s a great question. Actually, these brands selected us. These brands have our technology integrated directly on their website, so it’s less of us, you know selecting brands that we want to use.

Ology these brands, we’re looking for a tech solution to power their social impact and, and do a better job of giving back to causes. So this is just a snapshot of our brand clientele.

Okay. And then it looks like you have three screens worth to share.

And as you can see, it really ranges in in store size.

They’re they’re all retailers are all the direct to consumer. We also. Well, you know, we partner with brands of all sizes from small ones that just have an e-commerce shop all the way to coach and Steve Madden that, and Kenneth Cole that have in-store fundraising initiatives as well. And one that was on the previous page Well, we partnered more directly with some of these organizations in their giving initiatives.

I’m spotlighting them. We also leverage this community to fundraise for nonprofits. We have good relationships with an example of that is an initiative we did with global green environmental sustainability non-profit over the summer where we put out a call to our brand community to fundraise for a one, a global greens campaigns.

And we were able to raise about $25,000 for them. And just a couple months. By leveraging this community. So it’s a highly engaged and purposeful community of brand partners and we’re lucky to have them.

So which brand and where you wanting to feature from this page? I went back to the second page.

Oh just Muertos coffee. We have a really exciting initiative coming up with them in mid January through February. And we will be working with. Featured on on a news channel. I can’t say anything more than that, but stay tuned for more. It does coffee where it does coffees initiative with a very high level nonprofit.

Very cool. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining me today to talk about what you’re doing to leverage the power of shopping, to bring more attention to not for profits. I’m always curious to learn more about initiatives like this, because quite honestly, I may even have a use for doing something like this as well.

So in another call. You and I can talk about some of the work I’m doing behind the scenes to launch a brand that. For this, thank you so much, Molly for joining me today. All right, listeners, you know what to do? Visit shopping, gives.com. Take a look and feel free to also connect with Molly tree Rotolo directly.

I’ll include a link to her LinkedIn page, which I’m sure is a great way to reach you. How else can they reach you? Molly?

They can email me directly at molly@shoppinggives.com. Otherwise LinkedIn is the best method.

Great. Thank you listeners now. And always for being a part of this pod and this community, because together you, me and Molly, we can do so much more.

Thank you.

 

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  • Molly is a dedicated social impact leader who builds strategic partnerships, products, and programs for good. Her experience spans technology, digital fundraising, and corporate social responsibility. She is currently Head of Social Impact at ShoppingGives, an eCommerce platform that creates purposeful and profitable relationships between brands and nonprofits. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and NBC.

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