No one cares where you are. It’s where you’re headed.Westen MacIntosh on authenticity and transparency in business
In this episode of EnvironMental with Dandelion, we welcomed Westen MacIntosh to the show! Westen is a cofounder of Virtue Impact, a social impact & environmental tool for ecommerce brands that have the goal to make giving easy. Virtue does a great job of helping businesses stay transparent with their giving along with allowing them to find on-brand charities to partner with. They have more than 40,000 charities and impact businesses to choose from, and growing!
It’s a bit overwhelming, especially when you are just starting off. They don’t know where to begin, they don’t know how to offset. They don’t know how to calculate their carbon footprint… So what we’re doing is we’re stepping in here to make it really easy to do something good.Westen on being the first step towards sustainability for brands
We spoke with Westen about everything from the importance of authenticity and transparency in business, to the dangers of virtue signalling and where the money goes when supporting a charity.
Building Transparency in Business
Something Westen brought up more than once, and that we truly appreciate, is the importance of transparency in business. One of our main values is staying transparent and authentic in how we create marketing campaigns for the people we work with so we found it exciting to talk to another business built on transparency.
While it’s easy for marketers to focus on building brand trust, that isn’t the driving force behind our dedication to transparency. We think that elevating businesses that focus on staying authentic and honest, will put pressure on businesses that are greenwashing
At its core, Virtue is a transparency tool for businesses looking to increase their giving. Customers can see how much of their order goes towards the charity of their choice – which we think is a beautiful first step on the road to a better future.
Less Talking, More Doing
How to make a real difference? TALK LESS, DO MORE.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your beliefs openly – in fact we think that’s an important part of building transparency in business – but Westen made a great point. Virtue signaling, or talking about what you do to prove that you’re good, is often a red flag for greenwashing. Businesses can easily talk about caring for the environment or build a marketing campaign around a social cause, but actively supporting a cause means so much more.
Virtue Impact provides a system that integrates with most ecommerce platforms, allowing customers to see the real-time impact of their purchases. This helps businesses who struggle to prove that they’re showing up for the causes they care about.
One Important Note about Where the Money Goes
Truthfully, this is a bit of a side note from the point of this article, but it is very important and rarely talked about.
Often, when people give to a charity or a nonprofit, they say that they only want to support the work. This means that people often don’t want to support administration, infrastructure, advertising, fundraising, or upkeep of that business. Supporting only the charitable work sounds noble, but it can quickly lead to underpaid staff, lack of resources for necessary communications, and disorganization throughout the organization. This often leads to inefficient work being done and can hurt the impact overall.
Westen made a great point in saying that oftentimes supporting private sector impact businesses goes further because they need efficient processes in order to survive as a business. We aren’t saying that you should only support impact businesses, but we do think ensuring the organization you’re supporting is efficiently organized and making effective impact is an important piece of the puzzle!
We had a lovely time chatting with Westen. He gave us a lot to think about! We’re already excited to have him back on the show next year for a follow up. In the meantime here’s where you can connect with Westen and the Virtue Impact team: