Aveda Earth Month: Highlighting Year-Long Commitment to Mission

While April 22 is officially designated Earth Day around the world, one could argue that everyday is Earth Day at Aveda Corporation, an MCF member.

Take a read of Aveda’s mission:

“Our mission at Aveda is to care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society. At Aveda, we strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility – not just in the world of beauty, but around the world.”

Katie Galloway, Aveda’s Earth Fund manager, says this mission is ingrained in the company’s culture, both at corporate headquarters and at its retail locations. The mission statement is emblazoned throughout offices, read prior to meetings and used to guide decision-making everyday. “We’re well-known for our mission. It draws people – retailers, guests, employees – to Aveda. This makes it easier to get people excited about our philanthropic efforts; we’re expected to be a part of environmental leadership and social responsibility philanthropy,” she says.

Galloway highlights several ongoing initiatives:

  • Force of Nature is a one-day training for all employees to deepen their understanding of critical environmental issues.
  • A staff person at Aveda is dedicated to developing training and materials related to sustainability and community care targeted to employees and customers. These educational tip sheets and fact sheets are designed to inspire people to get involved and, as Galloway explains, “Live the mission.”
  • Aveda corporate employees are able to take eight hours a year as paid time off to volunteer. Each year, more and more employees take advantage of this program, which saw a 50 percent jump in participation last year.
  • Serve from the Heart is a grantmaking program for 120 Aveda-owned retail locations in which each location is given funds to re-grant. The program’s goal is to foster strong local partnerships and support issues that are most important in each community. The grant guidelines are intentionally broad, so that each store has the flexibility to decide which issue they’re most concerned about. Galloway reports that stores will often go beyond the grantmaking and hold their own events. For example, a store may partner with a women’s shelter and bring women to the store for makeovers.

Earth Month is Aveda’s signature philanthropic effort. Started as a single-day effort in 1990 “before green was trendy,” Galloway says, “Earth Month (April) is our most visible time when we unite as a whole network of salons and employees and rally around a common cause and a common issue.”

As part of Earth Month, a number of local partners are chosen, “giving locations an opportunity to raise money and get involved in an organization that is doing work right in their backyard, impacting the community directly,” Galloway explains. “Salon employees and guests learn about the issue and how they can get involved. It’s an easy way to make connections with a nonprofit’s work.”

Clean water is one of the environmental issues Aveda has focused on in recent years. This year, more than 60 Walk for Water events will be held throughout the U.S. Salons demonstrate their creativity through events such as this: Last year, a salon partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to clean up a beach while participating in a Walk for Water.

On Facebook, Aveda’s page features an interactive water footprint calculator during the month of April.  For every water footprint calculated, Aveda will donate $1, up to $50,000, to Global Greengrants Fund (GGF), its 2010 Global Earth Month partner. GGF makes small grants to grassroots groups working to help people protect the environment, live sustainably, preserve biodiversity, and gain a voice in their own future.

Aveda has created an online donation site for its Earth Month program at www.avedaearthmonth.org.  The site is hosted by YourCause.com and allows salons and employees to create their own fundraising web pages to share via Facebook, Twitter and email. The pages can be used to raise awareness of specific issues, publicize fundraising efforts, and collect donations.

The other day, while getting my hair cut, I read the sign for Aveda’s Light the Way candle. The entire purchase price of the candle ($12) goes to support GGF and the organization’s clean water projects.

On a side note, the decision to partner with Aveda was not a gimmick, according to Global Greengrants. In “Lighting the Way to Corporate Philanthropy,” two members of the Global Greengrants leadership team discuss their decision to partner with a corporation and provide insight for other nonprofits considering partnerships. “It’s tempting for any organization to be seduced by corporate money to meet annual fundraising goals. Being able to make a clear-headed assessment is critical. We are satisfied with the decision to partner with Aveda – they are not buying a green reputation by donating to us. Rather, from the company’s inception it got its business practices right, and as part of that they support Greengrants.”

Aveda’s goal is to raise $3.5 million during Earth Month. Of this, $1.2 million will be a corporate gift to Global Greengrants Fund to support clean water primarily in developing countries. Grassroots efforts by salons and employees will raise an additional $2.3 million for 30 Earth Month partners in their local communities.

- Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF communications associate

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