From Dawn Dish Soap's powerful wildlife rescue campaign to Vaseline's "Healing Project," sometimes problems that have plagued communities or our environment can be solved with everyday products. But it's up to companies to think outside the box to envision how their products or services can appropriately lend a helping hand. In the most recent example, one appliance company got out of the home and into the classroom to address a unique issue.
When Whirlpool discovered 20 percent of students struggle with access to clean clothes and often skip school as a result, the company saw a clear opportunity to help. Whirlpool created the "Care Counts" program, installing washers and dryers in 17 U.S. schools to see if clean laundry could impact attendance rates. In its first year, the program washed 2,311 loads of laundry (an average of nearly 50 loads per participant) with astounding results. Whirlpool found over 93 percent of tracked students increased attendance – with at-risk students attending two more weeks of school over the previous year. But the program did more than just impact attendance rates: it also had a positive effect on kids once they were in the classroom. Metrics shared on the Care Counts website showed 95 percent of students had more motivation and participated in more extracurricular activities than the previous year. The program was such a success, Whirlpool has plans to add over 30 more schools in its second year.
Though companies must be careful to ensure in-kind donations are helping rather than hindering efforts (especially during times of disaster, when unnecessary product donations can flood in), there is immense opportunity in examining how products or services can solve unique or underrepresented issues – like the impact of clean clothes on attendance and learning. In the case of Whirlpool, the company was able to turn the positive impact of its product into an entire social impact program. Here, the effort spans far beyond a simple donation, creating a relationship between the brand, school and students that helps solve an issue facing children while building brand affinity.