Doing good through thoughtful gifting

A couple years back, Christine Langdon had a problem: she was getting gifts that she just didn’t want or need. From corporate gifts like water bottles, keep-cups and USB drives to well meaning but ultimately unwanted personal gifts. Although she didn’t love or need the gifts, she always appreciated the feeling of getting the gift - being thought of, and having someone give you something, is a nice, joyful feeling. She just didn’t like the waste that these unwanted and unnecessary gifts created.

So twelve months ago, she did something about it. She founded a new social enterprise called The Good Registry. The Good Registry is a business, but it’s in the business of connecting the giving public to charities (via its registered charitable trust).

How it works
The Good Registry connects people to charities.

If you’re having a special event like a birthday or a wedding, you can create a Good Gift Registry, choose a charity and ask you friends to give to that charity via your own page on The Good Registry. Your friends and family can leave personal messages and see the amount you’ve collectively raised.

Or, if you want to give someone a meaningful gift, you can buy them a Good Gift Card. Then that person can go to The Good Registry and distribute the value of that card to any charities he or she chooses. The Good Registry earn their revenue by taking 7% off the top of each donation. Another 3% goes directly to third party transaction costs, so 90% goes to The Good Registry’s partner charities.  Right now, there are about 60 charities on The Good Registry’s books, so there’s lots of options for someone who is creating a Good Gift Registry or who receives a card.

The idea here is to give someone the joy of getting a gift, without the wasteful side of giving them a gift they don’t really want. It’s also helpful for someone looking to buy a gift - Christine knows how draining it can be to choose a gift for someone when you don’t really know what they want or need. The Good Registry makes that process easy by eliminating it entirely.

The customers
There are two main channels for The Good Registry: individuals, and large organisations. Large organisations are the more significant of these two channels - for example, a manager may buy each of her employees a $20 Good Gift Card as part of a Christmas present. This lets organisations look after their employees by giving them “joy through generosity,” and it also works well for The Good Registry, because these organisations operate at scale.

The organisations and the marketing
The Good Registry get organisations to market on their behalf. They’ve set a cap of 70 charitable organisations, and at the moment, they’re oversubscribed. Organisations can pitch for a spot in The Good Registry by showing how they will spread the word and help to build the movement for Good gifts.

Once an organisation is in there, it needs to be getting regular donations - otherwise,  it may be rotated out to make room for an organisation that can make the most of the opportunity offered by The Good Registry. This encourages charities to market for the benefit of themselves, The Good Registry and all of its partner charities. Word of mouth is hugely important, both for The Good Registry and their charitable partners.

The other side of the marketing is essentially a sales job - Christine spends a significant portion of her time promoting The Good Registry thorough social media and working directly with leaders in medium-to-large organisations, explaining the benefits of The Good Registry. Once an organisation is signed up, their employees can further spread the message through word of mouth.

The operations
The Good Registry gets help from a number of organisations - Deloitte handles the bookkeeping, financial management and growth strategy, Duncan Cotterill handles the legal end, and BizDojo provides them a space to work. This help is highly appreciated, especially since The Good Registry is in its early days.

The results
The first 12 months have been all about developing and bedding in systems. In less than a year, they’ve connected charitable organisations to more than $25,000 of donation revenue - not bad for early days! But they have bigger targets in mind, so keep an eye on The Good Registry in the future. They’re one to watch.

ConnectorsBrian Steele