With the explosive popularity of deal sites like Groupon and Living Social, Redwood City-based company decided it was time to start a similar “daily deal” for businesses that sold organic and eco-friendly products and services. Now visitors can get 50 percent off handbags that benefit female entrepreneurs in Ghana, or maybe 60 percent off organic baby food.
Founder and CEO Randy Paynter of Care2, an online community for individuals to stay informed and donate to specific causes, said he wanted to “change consumer perspective.” He said daily actions, such as deciding where your money is spent, all have much larger, unintended consequences.
“Where we spend our money says what we care about,” Paynter said. “With these actions, we communicate to government officials what’s important to us because institutions and government officials reflect society’s values, not the other way around.”
Paynter said Care2 has made making “good decisions” even easier by partnering with blissmo, a company that has created a Groupon-like service for companies that are offering sustainable products.
“It's hard to know what actually is legit, it's hard to find these products, they're oftentimes expensive,” said blissmo founder, Sundeep Ahuja, in an interview on Care2’s website. “So we said maybe we can find all these products and bring them to the public… and every time you buy one of these you are voting people-planet positive.”
Blissmo is the third party certifier that vets the products from hundreds of non-profits. He added that he saw Care2’s role as a “matchmaker,” pairing up environmentally conscious people with good products. For example, today’s deal offers 50 percent off artisanal, handcrafted shoulder bags that benefit female entrepreneurs in Ghana.
Every second, 1.5 acres of the rain forest are lost, according to savetherainforest.org. Care2 founder and CEO Randy Paynter was able to witness this alarming statistic firsthand on his trip to the Amazon when he was just 13 years old. It was then that he took his greeting card company and transformed it into the present company that could combat this devastation.
He said the impetus to founding Care2 was to create a network where people could share their empathy and interact with others like them. By bringing together like-minded people, individuals could feel part of a larger community and become part of the solution. The effort to prevent further deforestation soon spread to raising information and donations for other causes, ranging from animal welfare and human rights.
As one individual, he knew that he couldn’t single-handedly save the rain forest, but had to mobilize a society to bring them to care about the destruction occurring.
But lofty intentions don’t translate to solutions unless action is taken. So Care2 provides information about smart purchases and which measures to vote on that could help the environment and society.
And he added that placing this movement online has not created a digital divide that could lead to detached donations.
“It’s actually lowered the barriers to participation,” he said.
For example, an online discussion began in a Care2 forum in 2004 when a Redwood City man axed his dog to death after it bit his girlfriend on the head, a non-serious injury. CEO and Director of “No More Homeless Animals,” Carolyn Mullin, made a plea to then-District Attorney James P. Fox to fight for the maximum jail sentence of three years if convicted.
Over 400 signatures have also been collected for the petition “Stop Cargill from Building on SF Bay,” that has consistently been a topic of interest for Redwood City residents and Save the Bay, an environmental organization dedicated to preserving the San Francisco Bay.
Another promise that Paynter makes is that visitors to the site won’t be bombarded with requests to donate. Donations are just one aspect of the site in addition to these daily deals, news stories, and even green job postings.
“We know members will leave us if we aren’t true to our mission,” he said. “We’re just trying to help the activists who didn’t have an opportunity to donate before Care2.”