The Sparo Compact

Capitalism with a Conscience™

Brand giving can represent more than the desires of the leadership and customers. Brands are all at some point a reflection of the values of their employees and shareholders. Inputs from these groups can further incentives and bond these audiences to enhance the brand.

Brands conduct large user studies to design their products and services. Shouldn’t they do the same for their giving practices?

Corporations of the World: You Face Social Revolution. You are now part of a social compact.


The Internet Revolution has granted consumers the power to address the structural contradictions within any given business and encourage, even force, businesses to support social causes. It is choice that drives consumer behavior, now pressed by market alternatives that adopt the social good. Consumers have the right and responsibility – it is empowered consumerism—to guide businesses towards social causes. Buying power forces businesses to reassess their role in and posture in society, responding to the demands of shareholders, employees, and customers alike to integrate social consciousness into the corporate model.

This is the democratization of giving!

Chapter One

The Radical Nature of the Democratization of Giving

The ground beneath corporate philanthropy, [institutional giving and personal; donations] is trembling. A seismic shift — widespread social movements, distrust of big business, growing recognition of the benefit of “local,” and rapid technology revolution — is challenging business and giving practices. Sparo aims to harness this social energy, marrying profit and brand motive with philanthropic good and wealth distribution. We propose that these are expressed as a social compact between businesses and their customers.

We’ve been here before. Indeed, we were warned in 1999 when Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger released the Cluetrain Manifesto. Cluetrain predicted the future of change represented by the Internet. These prescient observations were denigrated by traditional marketers. Cluetrain’s theses are now fundamental to marketing and messaging across sectors and cultures.

Is the Sparo Compact derivative? You bet it is. Like the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto said, and Sparo will demonstrate, this is the End of Business as Usual.

Social impact has become a common element of our daily lives. Integrating shopping and giving to your preferred causes is the next stage of this social evolution.

The Sparo Compact aims to define a movement for democratizing philanthropy and shape how this movement will influence society and, specifically, rearrange our shopping behavior around buyers’ social consciousness. These are not trite maxims. These principles present a new reality, one in which consumers’ desire for and corporate support of social good is amplified by digital power.

Chapter Two

Fundamental Truths Behind Democratized Philanthropy

The Internet is ubiquitous. This technology revolution continues to have a global impact, not unlike the Industrial Revolution. This is a historic moment.

Technology is the beating heart of production, and the Internet has again shifted the importance of the worker and changed the relationship with the consumer. Unlike at any other time, product differentiation has narrowed, and it is easier than ever for new companies to enter a marketplace once dominated by massive companies. And, as the technology becomes routine, almost indispensable to everyday life, the desire for transparency in an increasingly equivalent market becomes an economic driver.

Out with the Old, Compete as the New

Corporate giving can no longer simply be an exercise in personal, executive prerogative. The scale and purpose of giving must become an integral element of the company’s DNA. To do so, businesses must adopt a new perspective — they are contributing members of society with the responsibility and good business sense to structure their operations and behaviors around, first, its corporate culture, second, the culture of its shareholders, employees, and customers, and third, the needs of society.

The Old

To a reasonable extent, corporate (and to a good extent Foundation) giving has historically been the purview of company leaders who support causes they believe, but not an integral element of the corporation’s DNA. In essence, corporate giving has in the past been more of the company paying for a personal cause than a business imperative. This has meant that corporate giving has remained low as an overall portion of giving sources.

Individual giving in the past was usually an annual donation to major charities or highly vocal local charities.

The New

Companies are finding that they are essential members of society whose responsibility (and that it is good business) is to have a structure that benefits society and extends beyond its internal structure to support society external to its own operations reflecting on its own culture and the culture of its shareholders, employees, and customers.

Individual giving has changed with the rise of the Internet to enable givers to find and to build relationships with an ever-growing number of unique and organized causes to which anyone can give any amount at any time.

Chapter Three

Code of Giving Conduct for Businesses in an Age of Democratized Philanthropy

  1. Your right to give means you are responsible for being knowledgeable regarding the destination and use of your donation, not to support those dedicated to / that foster any form of hate, cruelty, control, dominance, bigotry, racism, or control.
  2. You may peacefully influence the giving of others but must also respect their giving decisions.
  1. Corporations have a responsibility to demonstrate good giving practices as models for their shareholders, employees, customers.
  2. It is hoped that the wealthy give generously to causes as a demonstration to of the responsibility that comes with such wealth.

Some giving is better than other. But any form of giving is better than indifference, and any attempt to tear down giving is an attempt to wreck civilization.

Calvin Coolidge’s commentary of Mayflower Compact on its 300th anniversary Tweet

Chapter Four

The Sparo Theses of Giving

  1. Giving is good.
  2. Any giving is better than indifference.
  3. It is our freedom and our moral right to give to causes we believe in.
  4. It is our personal ethical choice where to give. / Our ethics guide us where to give. / Where you donate follows your personal ethics/ethical frameworks.
  5. It is our responsibility to be knowledgeable about the causes we support.
  6. Giving does not have to be in cash. Your time is as valuable a donation as cash -and your network may be more valuable than both.
  7. Giving should be personally affirmative.
  8. The feeling you get from donating should make you feel good.  If it does not, then something is wrong. (If giving makes you feel bad, then something is wrong).
  9. Compelling (or requiring) others to give is not right. It is even worse to require giving to a cause the donor does not agree/support.
  10. Your giving does not have to help everyone in society and can help those you aim to help in the way you desire.
  11. It is the responsibility of companies to support social causes as part of their commitment to the society they are a part of.
  12. The public has direct and indirect giving-power that can influence the giving choices of others.
  13. Just as with an individual’s rights, it is the right of companies to choose the causes they support and how this support is expressed.
  14. It is a consumer’s right not to do business with companies who support causes with whom they disagree.
  15. No one has the responsibility to question someone else’s giving choices. Yet, we do have the right to do so.
  16. Companies that support the causes that consumers support gain loyalty. Companies obtain customer loyalty when they support a customer’s right to choose where their giving goes.
  17. Every gift, no matter the size, matters.
  18. There is a cultural expectation that as you grow your wealth that you will give more.
  19. Tithes, like other giving, should connect their donors to a cause they support/appeal to.
  20. Giving is learned and giving habits are passed from one generation to the next.
  21. Shareholders have a voice in corporate giving (even if via a company foundation).
  22. Social purpose/good can have as much benefit to a company bottom line as its sales margin.
  23. Customer choice/service/rates/care extends beyond product/service to the company’s giving/care for others/community expectations.
  24. Giving builds loyalty.
  25. Giving should not be made to groups or causes that foster, propagate, or activate any forms of hate, bigotry, racism, cruelty, anger, or fear.
  26. Corporate giving choices reflect on its reputation, brand/quality as does its stance on inclusion, humanitarian causes, etc.
  27. Corporate giving decisions should not be a sole reflection of an individual, executives, or board but should represent the values of the shareholders, employees, and customers.
  28. Corporate giving represents the voice of its shareholders, employees, and customers – not just the company.
  29. Every buyer touchpoint (B2B, B2C, C2C) is an opportunity to ask the buyer how the seller should do good. | Every sales touchpoint offers a chance to do good.
  30. Giving is a relationship.
  31. Giving and accepting come with expectations.
  32. Acceptors of donations must respect the expectations of the giver.
  33. Giving is done with the exception that the give will help others.
  34. Giving one-time is good.  A commitment to giving is better.
  35. A commitment to giving does not mean you are required to give to the same place or on the same schedule.
  36. Giving should not come with the expectations of thanks or anything else in return.
  37. It is our right and our responsibility to encourage (but never require) others to give.
  38. The critical reward of giving is knowing how you have helped others.
  39. The ease of transacting online makes it even easier to give to those causes you prefer.
  40. It is ever more critical for giving foundations to consider the funding desires of its community.
  41. Giving is not just for the wealthy.  It is for everyone.
  42. Giving makes change.
  43. Companies that align with causes leverage a customer buying behavior that drives profits.
  44. Investment instruments such as ESGs enable everyday people to become impact investors.
  45. All giving in the end is about human impact.
  46. The pleasure that comes from giving is handed down from one generation to the next.
  47. The internet can/should make it easier for those in need to find their ideal donors.
  48. Donors have “countless touchpoints with their favorite causes on a near-daily basis.” –
  49. Millennials and youth worldwide have different giving expectations/ think differently about giving than any previous generation.
  50. Givers want to be given opportunities to give their time and effort within their expertise, well beyond the simple tasks often asked of volunteers.
  51. Younger givers want the same opportunities to give their export time and effort traditionally provided to adults/retirees.
  52. Giving of one’s time and effort is now a routine part of personal professional development.
  53. Corporate giving needs to migrate from secret to transparent. / Corporate giving should be transparent.
  54. Expanding opportunities for choice will lead to the cessation of the concentration of giving to the largest and most active charities.
  55. Not every cause can receive everything they need.
  56. Giving cannot be a tool for the powerful to increase their power.
  57. Givers need to feel that their gift makes a difference.
  58. Customers and the public in general expect businesses to do more to fund causes.
  59. Technology is changing giving in fundamental ways.
  60. Access to information is making it easier to find quality groups to advance causes givers believe.
  61. Technology is making conscious capitalism feasible for the mainstream.
  62. The customer is at the center of the drive to raise the importance of social care to be as important as profits.
  63. Consumers are increasingly willing to pay more to do business with a company that supports sustainability and social causes.
  64. You cannot expect or rely upon a government or others to support or fund a cause.
  65. The public is expecting companies to give more than they have in the past.  The public is expecting companies to increase the importance and levels of cause support.
  66. Older/traditional shareholders remain focused on maintaining profits while younger shareholders have a focus on balancing profits and social support/contributions/goods.
  67. Corporate personhood means companies have the same right and responsibilities related to giving as individuals.
  68. Corporate social responsibility is an expression of the company’s values to its customers. Corporate social responsibility is a mirror of what it sees as its customers’ values.
  69. Corporate social responsibility is good business.
  70. Involving customers in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) decision process attracts customers and builds loyalty.
  71. The democratization of giving and giving in general is resisted by businesses due to faulty profit-loss assumptions. Companies do not sacrifice profits when funding social causes. The social benefits received from corporate giving outweighs their costs.
  72. The younger you are when you start giving the greater its importance in your life.
  73. It is an educational process to learn how to evaluate the cause to give.
  74. Cause relationships/selection is as influenced by the brand as any commercial product or service.
  75. Corporate and cause partnerships are critical.
  76. Corporate and cause partnerships are not always beneficial.
  77. Corporate and cause partnerships deserve input from both the corporate customers and the cause supporters.
  78. The need (no matter how strong) for financial support does not require a cause to accept support from a company or individual.
  79. The value of the triple bottom line (People, Planet, and Profit) is becoming an increasingly relevant expectation of companies from the shareholders and the public.
  80. Consumer choice is increasingly including a company’s relevancy to/responsibility for social good/impact.
  81. It is not avarice/greed/poor morals/unethical/skewed priorities that corporations or the wealthy do not give or give more.  It is a lack of social connection.
  82. It is consumers’ right and responsibility to show/help make corporations and the wealthy establish a connection with causes they desire to support.
  83. Government expectations for corporate social responsibility are not sustainable without market and societal support.
  84. Millennials and younger generations have far greater expectations for giving from corporations and the wealthy than baby boomers.
  85. The nature of large bureaucratic corporations can make corporate change focused on customer interest in social causes difficult.
  86. There is an inherent structure to big business that slow down / block the ability/momentum to give / democratize giving.
  87. Democratizing giving is easier to adopt with a top-down mentality/sponsor to demonstrate the movement is an element of the corporate philosophy and overcome resistance.
  88. An individual creating a cause and requesting funding is as good will continue to grow in scale and legitimacy and will compete with traditional charities.

Share your thoughts

Deliver real structural change

With an open dialog, we can deliver real structural change that will benefit all of us around the world in the short- and long-term.

Join the Sparo Compact, NOW!


For all of those who have worked with Sparo over the years and to those who join the movement to democratize giving and wealth creation. We welcome you – the new Sparos to the community.

Authors Note

This proposal for a social compact between corporations and their customers, employees and shareholders began as an exercise to define the Sparo corporate brand. Then, as we explored the impact, we realized the thoughts, beliefs and theorems we were considerations went far behind a brand. Instead, we were defining a new ideal to support a popular movement to change how we consider personal and corporate giving and wealth creation.

This thought process then took on a life of its own to define the intersection between corporate social responsibility and the desires of the public to support a wide variety of causes. We then considered how technology has now enabled businesses to have such close and intimate contact with their customers regarding support and other issues. We saw how this then can expend to strengthen the relationship between businesses and their customers by providing value beyond the product and service. These businesses are already contributing and focusing on an increased importance of social responsibility as a core factor of a brand. And just as brands conduce consumer research for their products and services, why can they not also provide the same inclusivity for their benefit of the design of their programs for social good.

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