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Toms shifts away from One For One, the giving model it originated

The company is allowing itself more flexibility with how and where it gives back as it engages a new generation of more informed consumers.

Blake Mycoski speaks at a Toms-hosted rally to end gun violence. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for TOMS Shoes

« it’s time to do more than just our one-for-one giving." ».

When Blake Mycoskie launched Toms shoes out of his Venice Beach apartment in 2006, the company's one-for-one giving model was both revolutionary and extremely easy for consumers to understand: Buy a pair of shoes and a child in a developing country gets a pair of shoes. The simplicity of the concept, boosted by a legion of celebrity fans at the time, led to rapid success with Toms becoming one of the first mainstream purpose-driven fashion companies ever. Naturally, that one-for-one idea took off, with other companies like Warby Parker launching with similar models wherein consumerism could result directly in charitable giving of some kind.

Of course, companies evolve. On Wednesday, Toms is announcing that it's officially forgoing the one-for-one giving model it pioneered in favor of something more flexible. While Toms will continue to distribute shoes — as well as other items like eyeglasses and water as it's begun doing as its business has diversified and expanded — to those in need, and it may use the one-for-one model for certain collections, its new giving model is defined thusly: For every $3 the company makes, it gives $1 away. Or in other words, one third of net profits will go towards the company's giving fund.

Of course, Toms's giving process has been more complex than simply "one for one" for some time now. The company just hadn't fully communicated that to consumers. It's doing so with the release of a detailed impact report that outlines the change the company has created thus far, and its goals moving forward. Some highlights: Toms has given nearly 100 million pairs of shoes to date as well as 780,000 sight restorations and 722,000 weeks of safe water. It's committed $6.5 million to various impact grants with its 205 giving partners. Additional areas of giving over the past three years have included safe birth services and kits, bullying prevention and response, and solar light. In 2018, Toms made a $5 million commitment to organizations working to end gun violence. The same year, it also became a certified B Corp.

According to Toms's Chief Giving Officer Amy Smith, the shift away from one for one is about ensuring the company can have the biggest impact possible, and show its customers that. "The consumer is more savvy than ever; they're more engaged than ever; they're voting with their wallets," she tells me ahead of the announcement. "The combination of Toms wanting to do as much as we could in a way that was aligned with the passions of our consumers, we really started to wrestle with this idea of: Maybe it's time to evolve a little bit and maybe it’s time to do more than just our one-for-one giving."

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