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Interviews

1% For The Planet Q&A: How Giving Just a Little Can Help the Environment A Lot

"It's easy to feel overwhelmed, or to discount the small things you can do in the face of the large challenges we face. But taking action every day, even if it's just one step, truly makes a difference." We interviewed the CEO of 1% For The Planet, Kate Williams, for her experience and advice on how to easily give more and change the world.

By

Le

on

December 4, 2019

What is 1% For The Planet, and Why Does Their Work Matter?

No matter what you do for a living, you can help save the planet.

That's the message that 1% For The Planet sends us when they recruit individual and corporate members on college campuses, business conferences, and online. As a well-recognized symbol of environmental protection and social impact, 1% For The Planet is a movement that partners with environmental nonprofits and signs up members to donate 1% of their income each year to these causes.

Just 1%. Nothing crazy or demanding. Just a tiny sliver of your work to easily support the right charities.

1% For The Planet allows both businesses and ordinary employees to donate to organizations that save the environment directly, making it one of the best ways to protect the planet. Learning how to help the environment and save the planet doesn't come easy, and it's hard for one person to feel like they can make a huge impact on Planet Earth.

However, 1% For The Planet helps us imagine a world we'd be in if each person just gave a little bit of their earnings back to the planet that has supported their well-being so much. If you join as a business owner, your company will have the 1% For The Planet badge that's recognized by over one-fourth of all Americans, and only more each day will recognize you as a true leader in helping humanity.

More importantly, you can also join as an individual. One percent of your salary, no matter what your field or background is, gives you the opportunity to truly make a difference on this planet. You get the organization's branding material as well as the support you need to know that your efforts are helping change the world.

What's most powerful of all is 1% For The Planet's diverse, connected network of people who believe in giving back to the planet. We always say at The Good Startup that there's power in knowing that you're not alone in thinking that you can still change the world.

Since 2003, 1% For The Planet has raised over one hundred million dollars, and they continue to grow as an activist community that allows everyone to do what they can and have the opportunity to help make an impact.

Meet the CEO of 1% For The Planet: Kate Williams

How did you find yourself as CEO of 1% For The Planet, and what was it like starting out?

"As with most things in my life at least, I found my way to being CEO through a combination of serendipity and professional tenacity."

"As with most things in my life at least, I found my way to being CEO through a combination of serendipity (the 1% for the Planet office was located right across the street from my former job) and professional tenacity (I have worked on behalf of the planet my entire career).

From the outset, it's been an honor...and a lot of work! And absolutely a team effort.

So I think the journey for me has been about finding my footing as a leader in a way that is truly integrated with both staff and our network - we are stronger together!"

The 1% For The Planet movement was created in 2002 by the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, and the founder of Blue Ribbon Files, Craig Matthews.

Chouinard and Matthews wanted their new company to not just be a donation platform or a nonprofit, but also a global movement that inspired businesses and individuals to give back to the planet. With so many organizations and environmental protection programs to support, they founded 1% For The Planet to streamline the way people could give a portion of their income back to the world that supported them.

What is the selection process for the nonprofits that partner with 1% For The Planet like, and how do you allocate how much money goes to each?

"We have a multi-stage process for vetting our nonprofits, meaning we gather more and more information about them so that we are better informed and able to better inform others about all aspects of a particular nonprofit's work, approach, etc.

Our member companies and individuals give directly to their nonprofits - our role is to advise them on the nonprofits that are best fit for them. We have a robust process for this that involves both structured use of our CRM as well as engaged research by our staff."

1% For The Planet gives to organizations that focus on one of six core issues: climate, land, water, food, wildlife, and pollution.

These are a few of The Good Startup's Top Picks for the nonprofits that 1% For The Planet partners with to help save the environment:

What has been a story or a moment as CEO of 1% For The Planet that made you think "Yes. This is why I do what I do"?

"Oh my gosh - I have these moments just about every day!

Whenever a new company joins, I'm struck by the fact that they are willing to make the choice to commit 1% of their sales annually to our planet. This is incredible. And then getting to know the members, their passion, their smarts, is beyond inspiring."

Companies commit 1% of either their whole company's total sales, a single brand's total sales, or a single product line's sales.

Becoming a member company of 1% For The Planet signals a strong commitment to giving back to the community, supporting environmental causes, and leading by example. Some of 1% For The Planet's most notable companies include Kleen Kanteen, Honest Tea, and Boxed Water, and you can check the full directory of business partners here.

What has been the company's impact so far, and how did you get through any times of discouragement to get the company where it is today?

"To date, our network has given nearly $250 million to environmental nonprofits globally.

We've gained a lot of momentum in recent years, so it's been great to see the annual giving number and the total number of members keep climbing! Today we're at close to 2,500 members.

I think the discouraging times are when we hit the inevitable hiccups of limited capacity, miscommunication. etc. Fortunately, we've grown with a lot of integrity and an authentic commitment to the work we do, so this gets us through, as does the shared commitment to do good work for our planet."

How have the company's mission and values affected the way you look at the world and how you live your day to day life?

"I've learned a lot about how my purchasing can have a positive (or negative) impact, so I've definitely put more thought into that.

And I've also switched to a plant-based diet, which feels great and I know is something that I can do every day that serves the planet (and my body) well."

The 1% For The Planet Mission:

"We bring dollars and doers together to accelerate smart environmental giving."

The 1% For The Planet Vision:

"All together for our planet."

What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in this world?

"Take action every day.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed, or to discount the small things you can do in the face of the large challenges we face. But taking action every day, even if it's just one step, truly makes a difference."

If everyone gave just a little bit, it'd add up to make a really big difference. Join the global movement that's saving the planet at onepercentfortheplanet.org.

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Do Things Worth Doing.

The Good Startup is this ambiguous, awkward brand going through puberty right now. Rebellious, existential - but still a heart of gold - my mission is to still do the most I can to make your life better (and more badass) than it was before.