Apr 8, 2024

Aligning Our Business and Values: How Made Manifest Gives Back

Is it possible to do business ethically? How can you give back as a small business without the resources of a larger company? What are some ways we can build in a 'triple bottom line' and have an impact in the communities we are part of?

I grapple with these questions all the time! Here are some of the things we're doing at Made Manifest Inc to align our business with our values.

As with all of the best things in life, this is very much a work in progress.

Crowd around table and discussing at our 2023 s/mallTALK exhibition at the Eaton Centre

When I started Made Manifest, I knew that I wanted to find ways to do business in line with my values. I'm a strong believer that businesses have a responsibility beyond profit and their clients and employees. Ensuring that a commitment to giving back is part of the DNA of our structures and organizational culture from the get go is a high priority for me as a leader.

I'll be honest and say that it can be tricky as a small business to contribute in all the ways that we want to, and this is definitely a work in progress! For example. I'd love to do BCorp certification some day, but that hasn't felt feasible for us at this stage in our evolution. So here are four things we are currently doing to live our values and have an impact on the communities we are part of.

Donating 1% of gross revenue to environmental non-profits via 1% for the Planet Membership

The climate crisis keeps me up at night and I often feel so overwhelmed at the challenge we are facing as a species. 1% for the Planet is a tactical and doable approach to building a climate commitment into the business. Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia and 1% for the Planet founder) is a business hero of mine, showing that things can be done in new ways, for example making Earth the only shareholder in Patagonia.

Being a 1% for the Planet member builds our environmental commitment into our operating structure.

Made Manifest is a 1% for the planet member, pledging 1% of top line revenue annual to environmental non profits. We focus our donations on local organizations such as Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto, the RAVEN Trust movement for Indigenous justice, and the Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada. To date, we have donated $15,357 to environmental non-profits.

Supporting the next generation of designers

We also donate our time and expertise to capacity building and supporting the next generation of designers. For example, our team has mentored design students at OCAD University, and guest lectured at local educational institutions like Humber College and University of Toronto.

We make resources from our practice freely available to support other designers.

We host 1:1 office hours where service designers can come and get advice on their practice, and we provide many free online resources such as our guide to getting started with a service design career.

Pro-bono work and collaborations

In addition, we do pro-bono work and collaborations which bring design research and service design to the broader community. In 2023, we worked with the designWITH design lab at the Eaton Center Mall to do design research on people’s stories, memories and experience of the mall, culminating in a co-creative exhibition sharing back people’s stories and inviting mall-goers to share their vision for the future of the mall.

Engaging the community at our s/mallTALK exhibition.

This project engaged the local community in several ways - from giving people a creative outlet and exposure to service design practice to inviting designers from the community to participate in our research project.

Discounted public and non-profit consulting rates

Finally, we prioritize our local public and non profit community organizations by providing our consulting services at a discounted rate. This means teams and organizations which may not have access to these ways or working or this expertise can collaborate with us and we can support them to design their services and operations.

For example, we worked with a non-profit in the adult literacy and basic skills space to help them map and understand the complex system dynamics at play and identify where technology could improve service delivery for learners.

We are big believers in the power of community and that business should be contributing in many ways to the communities we live, work and play in as well as our broader professional communities.

If these are values that you and your team and organization share, we'd love to hear from you! We're always on the look out for values aligned clients and collaborators to build relationships and do great work with.

Linn Vizard
Made Manifest Founder. I ❤ glitter, cats, and deadlifting

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