The highly popular “buy-one, give-one” models — as epitomized by the popular TOMS Shoes brand — have long held the attention of Western do-gooders. It’s quick, it’s easy, and hey, people like the shoes. And let’s not forget the power of the Warm & Fuzzies.
Yet many are beginning to raise concerns about the actual impact of these activities. As Acton’s Michael Matheson Miller recently explained in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, “The one-for-one model can undermine local producers. When you give free things, why would you buy local shoes?”
In the debut of his new smarty-pants comedy show, “Adam Ruins Everything,” Adam Conover chooses to set his sights on precisely this:
To their credit, TOMS Shoes has taken certain steps to reconsider its model, including a decision to “employ 100 Haitians and build a ‘responsible, sustainable’ shoe industry in Haiti.” But alas, by all public appearances, there is still a ways to go.
In addition, it’s worth noting that such errors and missteps are not confined to these particular models, or even to for-profit enterprises or detached charities. As Peter Greer explains in the following excerpt from the PovertyCure series, this type of misaligned charity can occur right in our churches:
For more, see the PovertyCure series.