"Doing good" has become a business strategy.

Buy Tom's shoes and they will give a pair of shoes to someone in need. Buy bottled water, gum, mints or coffee from Project 7, and much of the profits help meet seven areas of fundamental needs around the globe. A recent study from marketing agency Good.Must.Grow said, "30% of respondents said that they expect to increase the amount of goods and services they buy from socially-responsible companies over the next year (last year, that number was 18%), and 60% of people said that buying goods from socially-responsible companies is important to them."

Consumers care. Companies know you care. In a struggling economy, it only makes sense that the way companies do business can change their profit bottom line.

But... What does "socially responsible" really mean?

Who is keeping them accountable to do what they say they are doing? How can we tell between a company that is really improving communities and one that does a little good as part of their marketing strategy? How can we know our purchase choices are indeed "doing good" for others?

From the beginning, Dignity has been clear that we want to see more than just profit. We want to see lives changed. This is so important to us that we have made it a bottom line - a measurement to our investors and staff that is right there next to profit in the reports. It's the way we do business. It is integrated into the fabric of who we are. We bring jobs into communities. We train and equip. We empower. We carry hope.

At Dignity, we want to measure transformation.

Sounds tricky, eh? It feels a bit like measuring the humidity without a tool - you just feel it. It's not like we have a transformation hygrometer to read as we go. So how are we going to know that we really are bringing hope and bettering lives? We've created a tool: a baseline survey.

We have compiled a survey that we are bringing to the villages of Bicol that will give a current read on conditions there. We have currently surveyed over 250 households. Each year, we will survey our community again to see if there is improvement.

We want to know things like this:

  • Are more children getting enough to eat?
  • Are people sick less often?
  • Are children going to school and staying in school?
  • Is the average income in the area higher?
  • Is the unemployment rater lower?
  • Are marriages improving? Is the divorce rate dropping?

You see, we could offer the community thousands of gallons of safe water, but if the community is not using them, they will stay sick. By measuring disease rates, we can see measurable improvements brought by our water program.There are some subjective questions. That's fine with us. We feel that after years of asking these questions, we will be able to see marked improvement in our community.

Transformation is our bottom line. You can hold us to it.

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