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Mobilizing for Good

September 25, 2013

(Todd Woodward is vice president of brand, public relations, and corporate social responsibility at Amway.)

Headshot_todd_woodwardAt my office at Amway World Headquarters, I am surrounded by photographs of children from all over the world who've been helped by the Amway One by One Campaign for Children -- a young child receiving a life-saving series of immunizations for the first time, a sick child in a playroom built just for patients like him in a hospital in rural Russia, and others in different yet similar situations. What they have in common is that they received critically needed services and support thanks to Amway, its business owners, and employees who live, work, and play in communities around the globe, from the West Michigan town where our company was founded more than fifty years ago to a small fishing port in rural China.

What Amway does best is mobilize people toward a goal. In our business model, an Amway business owner is rewarded for selling products and for mentoring others eager to earn income doing the same; by working together to achieve sales targets, the group also wins bonuses. Isn't philanthropy a lot like that? What starts as a commitment to give and a philosophy that we have something of value to offer others -- money, time, or expertise -- simply grows into a movement.

The Amway One by One Campaign for Children started ten years ago when we realized that most of the markets where we'd been doing business for years had individually embraced children's causes. Amway business owners and employees around the globe were taking the initiative to make a difference in children's lives -- starting an afterschool program for at-risk middle-schoolers, buying desks for students who had none, or bringing play to hospitals for terminally ill children. Together, we have helped more than ten million children by donating $190 million in funding and 2.7 million volunteer hours.

This November, when we commemorate ten years of helping children by hosting our first global volunteer day, we're also celebrating an approach to philanthropy that was forged by leveraging our amazing people and products as forces for good. By harnessing what are now affectionately known as our three Ps -- people, product, and performance -- we have built a global enterprise approach to philanthropy that drives us to do and give even more in our communities.

People: The greatest resource Amway possesses is our network of twenty-one thousand employees and more than three million business owners worldwide. We engage them like no other company in the world -- because we not only ask them to mobilize to help improve their communities but also help them focus their efforts; recognize them on a global stage for their accomplishments; and, in some cases, provide matching funds to advance their programs.

Amway is in a uniquely fortunate position. As the largest direct-selling company in the world, we know a thing or two about empowering people to pursue their passions. But we believe that any company can tap the energy, creativity, and inspiration of its people in the same way we do. We've found that when employees, their families, business partners, customers, and friends are allowed to "serve from the heart," it's astonishing what impact they can have on their communities.

Product: We used the scientific expertise of our team of more than nine hundred researchers, scientists, and technologists to develop solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems. Our NUTRILITE® Little Bits™ is a macronutrient powder designed to address chronic childhood malnutrition and help children grow and thrive during the critical first five years of life. We've also worked with partners to expand access to clean water to stop the rampant spread of water-borne diseases and are aggressively identifying how we can play a role in addressing critical global issues.

Performance: We're a privately held company, and by integrating sustainability goals into our products and processes, we are able to judge our performance not on quarterly results but on how we're treating people and the planet. It's a mandate we hope every company soon shares -- not just because the public demands it (even though they do!) but because it's part of who they are and who they want to be.

Our corporate social responsibility formula is simple: localize our efforts, leverage our strengths, and take an intentional approach to sustainability. While Amway's global network is huge, what we did can be applied to any organization, big or small. If you're a global concern, work with your employees and business partners to identify needs on a local level and how best to address them. While it's tempting to look for a single solution or an "ownable" CSR strategy, one-size-fits-all approaches lack authenticity and true impact.

Find ways to employ your collective strengths and talents, whether by providing pro bono services, needed products, or targeted expertise. It's inspiring for your employees to apply their skills to helping their communities.

And consider not only the impact of your corporate responsibility programs but also how you're contributing to a stronger, healthier community and planet. Caring for our communities is about more than philanthropy; it's about being responsible stewards of the resources we share. People, products, and performance can define your corporate social responsibility programs and enable you to make a real difference in your community.

-- Todd Woodward

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