Why charge nonprofits less?

I wasn’t planning to write this but I really need to get something out and I’d like to hear how others feel about it.

Meet Juho.
He co-founded ShareTribe; a nifty white-label marketplace you can use to make your own AirBnb, Gumtree, etc — for products or services.

I suspect he’s a lovely chap. But something he wrote to my Dignity platform partner Pasco really frustrated me today, and it’s not just about Juho — lots of people think for-profits and nonprofits should pay the same for stuff.

I’m going to argue why they absolutely should not.

See, ASDA is a bad company. Companies like ASDA shouldn’t exist.
When you sell something that cheap, you’re cutting corners that will cause problems for all of us later. Companies like ASDA shouldn’t exist.

But as long as they do, no-one should trade with them.
If you do trade with them, I think you should charge them more + pay them less (than non-profits[or ‘Planet-before-profits’ as I prefer to call them if indeed, they are — as this says what you ARE for, rather than NOT for. Eg. With Dignity platform, I’m not inspired to be ‘non-profitable’, I’m inspired to first and foremost be in service to the planet; what does that actually mean? Dedicated to increasing the quality of life on Earth; not just for my generation, and not just for my species. What other success metric could possibly be worthwhile? More here.]) So, companies who prioritise their wallets over everything else: if you charge them more/ pay them less, you can spend your extra money on something more in service of planet than they would.

A bad company?

Companies like ASDA, Amazon, BAE systems and others prioritise their own profit-making above everything else. They do this by stealing from the future of your children and my children. How do you think you make a whole chicken cost £2.30p on the supermarket shelf? You don’t achieve it by looking after the future; by upholding good working conditions for employees or decent animal welfare standards, or being responsible for your environmental impact.
My investigative journalism is one of the ways I’ve learned this first hand.

Profit before planet companies aren’t paying the price of the negative impact they have.

I believe that more than ever we need to redefine what a ‘successful’ company is, and adjust what we’re advocating.
Coca Cola is not a successful company unless success is cancer — growth at all costs; with disregard for the host/ environment it depends on.

Companies like this destroy the soil. The soil is the future.

Even Michael fucking Gove has admitted that most of our arable land in the UK will be too destroyed by intensive farming practices to grow food for my grandchildren’s generation, unless we completely transform the whole way we produce food.

ASDA could not give a fuck about that. Unless launching some campaign around it got them more sales today. Like their ‘wonky vegetables’ campaign.

That’s why Pepsi and Heineken are producing so much of our activist media-they’re paying the marketing psychologists to get ahead of the curve, to employ my filmmaker friends to make the shiniest videos about trending topics like how important community cohesion and activism is, while (as far from the public eye as possible) they take every opportunity possible to dodge accountability for the negative impact they have in the world.

I like ShareTribe’s vision to ‘democratize marketplaces’ to de-monopolise platforms like Uber, AirBnB, TaskRabbit, etc, but here’s some ideas:

  • Capture the views and opinions of your customers in a democratic (or just vaguely participative) way, using basic tools like UserVoice or cheaper alternatives, like countless other orgs do. (Our experiment taking this a step further)
  • Support the actual open platform co-op movement (think FairBnB, Driver co-op, etc — or events and infrastructure that work to support this space)
  • Charge Planet-before-profit orgs like us less, because we’re serving everyone’s long terms needs more than primarily-for-profits. We’re paying for the negative impacts we have on society and nature (or we’re not creating those negative impacts in the first place).

To clarify — nothing wrong with earning loads, it’s about who your money serves— your strategic priorities.

So that’s why, if you’re primarily in service of the increased quality of life on our planet, I’m going to charge you less for my services than a company who’s stealing from tomorrow to make more sales today.

And that’s why I want Juho, ShareTribe and every other organisation to recognise the importance of charging companies stealing from the future more than those who are doing the work of safeguarding the quality of life for the next generation.

It’s not about how much money is in your account, it’s about whether you use money primarily to make more money, or whether you use it primarily to drive you to a purpose beyond profit.

Money is a fuel, like petrol. It’s not for driving to a petrol station.
You just need to avoid running out while en route to your destination.

Taking care of each other, our planet and our children's’ future isn’t a cute after thought; a nice hobby. It’s critical.

We are the generation that’s being called upon more than any other to take profound and meaningful action, and we’re also the more able to.

If your products and services can help me, why are you charging me the same price you charge companies who are undermining this social focus?

What are you in service of — in the bigger picture?

Thanks for lending your ear and your heart.
I’d like to hear your perspective.

Meanwhile, we’re exploring our tech options for Dignity platform’s new marketplace for neighbours to meet, help each other and support the world’s most needed Planet-before-profits at the same time.

How best can we connect like minded initiatives, so together we work more insightfully & effectively than we could alone?