Key themes of Australian philanthropic behaviour identified from the Giving Australia 2016 report were culture, learned values, and lived experiences. All of these underpin the assessments people make regarding their inclination and ability to give. Conversely, it was found that barriers included ‘giving orientation’, articulated as the general scepticism people have over the appropriate allocation of their funds or time; in conjunction with their uncertainty of where to give (Giving Australia 2016, 2017). This is the issue On Your Behalf (OYB) is solving, initiating a connection between consumerism and charity.
OYB is a simple and transparent business based on the buy-one give-one model. This model allows OYB to partner with consumers to simultaneously create social and commercial value (Marquis & Park, 2014). OYB encourages consumers to conduct charitable acts by allowing them a tangible outcome for their donations. The model allows for the seamless and effortless transition from consumer to recipient. Customers purchase a piece of uniquely designed street-wear, for which OYB forwards the identical item onto a partner charity, on the consumers behalf. Each street-wear purchase is distinct in that each unit comprises two identical designs. To complete the transaction, the consumer is encouraged to complete a tag with their name that will be attached to the piece of donated clothing. OYB’s business innovation is revolutionary, bonding the consumer and recipient through apparel. Since entering the market in 2016, OYB’s major partners include The Berry Street Organisation (Melbourne) and The Ottawa Mission (Canada). OYB has worked hard to build a personable relationship with The Berry Street Organisation, prioritizing quality connections over quantity.
In 2016, Alex Eidelman and Ron Beliavaski developed the idea whilst studying abroad in Ottawa, Canada. The idea was developed in response to a class task where the pair were required to envision an innovation that would benefit both the business and society. Once Alex had settled into the Ottawa way of life, he became alarmed by the level of poverty and homelessness in the downtown area. This was especially startling as “the country has ranked in top ten liveable in the world over the last several years, it is meant to be perfect yet in reality it is far from it”. From 2015 to 2016, the homelessness rate in Ontario increased by 5.2% (ATEH, 2017), with daily spending on overflow shelters increasing to (CAD)$12,300 per day (Miller, 2017).
This feature motivated Alex and Ron to drive the project from an idea to a trading business within four months. Alex was looking to develop a business model that would transition people from not being “really sure what is done with their monetary donations to a tangible outcome”. Whilst still in Ottawa, the pair managed to create, sell, and donate 20 t-shirts to a local homeless shelter, with all purchases made from an array of students on campus. The encouraging response to their initial efforts supported their motivations to bring their business back to Australia with them, to start making a difference in their greatly loved hometown of Melbourne.
Once back in Melbourne, Ron and Alex were motivated for their business project to progress and expand. They committed to long hours solely dedicated to selling t-shirts and spreading their message. Alex primarily sold t-shirts at parties he attended, as well as holding a pop-up stand at the South Melbourne Markets. The difficulties of managing university study with the immense time and effort required for OYB was challenging, and prompted Alex and Ron to evaluate the viability of the business. It was then that Ron made the decision to leave OYB.
Although Alex still believed in the innovation of OYB, he was unsure for how long to continue the business on his own. When on exchange in Malaysia, he attracted substantial interest in the designs of the OYB t-shirts he would wear. People would approach him and actively ask to partake in the OYB initiative. Alex felt reaffirmed that OYB was worthwhile, and returned to Melbourne energized and with a new outlook to not give up. Alex is passionate about OYB and the potential growth it has as a business. In Alex’s words, there are “big things to come” for OYB.
OYB has expanded upon the typical buy-one-give-one model common among socially conscious companies. Consumers are provided with an extra opportunity to connect to the recipient of their charity by adding their name to the tag of the item being donated. Additionally, while a duplicate product of the one purchased is given to an organization in need, no other products are the same. This provides an additional connection between the donor and the recipient. Through these means OYB has differentiated themselves and is able to expand to offer other products besides t-shirts, and to partner with additional organizations.
The one-to-one business model OYB employs is extremely beneficial for the business. As one of few one-to-one philanthropic businesses in Melbourne, OYB attracts consumerism through altruism and the human desire to help others. OYB is able to provide the customer with an experience that goes beyond a simple product transaction. The satisfaction of the OYB customer is not necessarily underpinned by their product gain but rather the opportunity to give back to those who may be less fortunate, such as youth victims of domestic violence through The Berry Street Organisation. The opportunity for the customer to attach their name to the recipients’ t-shirt reflects the genuine care OYB embodies. The knowledge that no two other t-shirts are identical to the product purchased further strengthens the unspoken bond between the individual and recipient. The fact OYB is not striving to commercialize their product for profitable purposes sets them apart from potential competitors operating within a one-to-one business model. OYB is transforming the market for street-wear clothing by enabling consumers to perform an act of giving that is humbling for all parties involved.
The social impact of giving clothing to those less fortunate is what fundamentally motivated the creation of the OYB business. OYB offers consumers and recipients a sense of community as they present a highly unique opportunity for consumers and recipients to connect with like-minded people who they may have never otherwise had the chance to. The shared values that bring people together within the OYB initiative have an intrinsic value for society and highlight the importance of social cohesion. OYB further benefits society through the collective impact of giving that only grows as more people purchase t-shirts.
The simplicity of the OYB innovation greatly enhances their capacity to not only diversify the products they sell, but the organisations they partner with. Consequently, the social impact of OYB is not restricted to one subdivision of homeless people in society. As OYB grows, a multitude of people can be reached and provided with a product that is both functional and of significant meaning. The social implications of the OYB one-to-one business model are substantial and cannot be underestimated. OYB is ultimately contributing to an ongoing process of reducing social and economic disparities that partition disadvantaged individuals from the rest of society.
Alexander Eidelman, Co-Founder
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Melbourne, VIC, AU
Business Website: oybstore.com.au
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
OYB is a simple and transparent business based on the buy-one give-one model. Customers purchase a piece of uniquely designed street-wear, for which OYB forwards the identical item onto a partner charity, on the consumers behalf. Each street-wear purchase is distinct in that each unit comprises two identical designs. To complete the transaction, the consumer is encouraged to complete a tag with their name that will be attached to the piece of donated clothing.