Deal site Social Goodies delivers the goodies for nonprofits

Shoppers may be aware of the number of daily deal sites crowding the market. But Social Goodies stands out from the crowd due to its charitable commitment: the company donates 20 percent of all proceeds to worthy nonprofits. Customers can score discounted designer goods, some up to 70 percent off, while also funding good works.

“We’re basically creating a guilt-free shopping experience for our customers,” Carie Salter, founder and CEO, said. “We enable people to be able to buy fantastic merchandise at a significant discount and all the while give money to charity at the same time. I think what we’ve done is create a win-win-win platform for everyone. It’s a win for our customers; it’s a win for our charities who get 20 percent of the purchase price of everything bought and also get their message out.”

While providing free nonprofit consulting services, Salter worked on a project analyzing how charitable organizations managed to raise funds, hoping to minimize the uncertainty of nonprofit fundraising during difficult economic times.

“It became abundantly clear that people were having a really, really hard time raising money to fund their good work,” Salter, who has an MBA from Harvard, said. “I thought this is terrible. I (began to) wonder if there was a for-profit business model that would be able to really fund the work of charities.”

Drawing on the idea of daily deal sites – in their infancy at the time – she decided to create a mainstream business that would donate a significant percent of its profits to charities. Such a business would exist simply to create dollars for nonprofits. That for-profit model soon became Social Goodies.

“I wanted to be able to take several hundred dollars and leverage it to turn it into millions of dollars and a business that would be able to fund the great work of charities for years and years to come,” she explained.

Compiling an “amazing” team of people passionately behind the mission of doing good, she got to work. The company debuted in May and has been shaking up the traditional daily deal model ever since.

“(Charity is) really what Social Goodies is all about,” Salter maintained. “Charity is not a gimmick for us. It is truly our entire reason for being.”

Social Goodies only offers three donation options at a time to maximize giving and always features choices from different sectors, say Teach for America, Nature Conservancy and Doctors Without Borders. Organizations are further grouped by operating budget; Salter does not want to unfairly stack a modest-sized nonprofit next to a behemoth one. Customers are welcome to visit the site and vote for their favorite organization to be featured.

“We want to send a concentrated amount of money to charities as opposed to a lot of other sites that offer tons of different options but you know what, you have a thousand to ten thousand different charities that could be the beneficiary of your purchase, you’re really not sending a lot of money necessarily to any given charity,” she said.

Salter hopes that the strict criteria Social Goodies uses to evaluate potential nonprofits – annual budget and charity ratings, for example – will assure customers that their capital is being responsibility directed.

Salter reports companies have been excited by the concept and are eager to do business with Social Goodies.

“They do deals with us because they believe in the concept and cause,” she said. “You could go do a deal with a for-profit daily deal site where they keep a much bigger percentage of the deal and no social good comes of it, or you can partner with Social Goodies.”

While Social Goodies gravitates toward striking deals with socially conscious and eco-friendly companies, Salter argues any company who partners with them is already making a socially conscious decision. When shoppers purchase deals from companies such as Gorjana, a line of charity jewelry, they can take satisfaction in knowing they are giving back twice: first by donating to one of the three nonprofits and again by supporting the work of another charitable business.

It is no surprise that philanthropy is in Salter’s blood. Salter’s’ grandparents were two generous individuals who found each other in a Shanghai ghetto. Having fled from war-torn conditions in Eastern Europe, they knew firsthand what it was like to do without. Her grandmother said she fell in love with her future husband because he would always make sure everyone in his factory had food to eat before taking his own.

As a child, Salter was encouraged by her parents to spend her free time organizing canned food drives and making sandwiches for the less fortunate. “It’s just a family tradition and a family legacy,” she revealed.

So far, the site has already netted $28,000 for charity. Salter hopes to make that figure millions.

“We’re doing well. It’s hard to believe it’s only been three months, Salter said, citing the loyal customer base of over 50,000 subscribers and more than 10,000 Facebook fans. “We’re excited what the future holds for us. … We’re a young company, but we are really passionate and we think that this will enable a lot of amazing charities to do some great, great things."

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LadyLUX via istock, Social Goodies

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