Method Profile: Beam Shines Light on Accountability

Welcome to our next method profile! Our previous entry focused on using a growth mindset in social enterprise. In operating any venture, everything flows from your approach, and identifying a proper method helps you effectively fulfill your team’s initiative.

Together, we’ll be profiling interesting social enterprises to discuss an anchor method in their strive for social good. The term “anchor method” is to express the intentional and grounded nature of the approaches propelling a social enterprise forward.

This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise initiative improvements.

In today’s post, we’ll look into retail app platform Beam leveraging accountability. The free app partners with brands that value social impact to make donations to nonprofits.

Knowing the Company

One co-founder is Viveka Hulyalkar, who ran a non profit project in Cleveland, OH at the age of 15. Her project included installing solar panels in schools, and the project received support from the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Co-founder Alex Salvatore came later with the tech expertise to bring one of Viveka’s new ideas to life. That idea was Beam.

People can download Beam to shop as they normally would with the benefit of donating to a nonprofit. For every purchase you make, 1% of your spending is given to a chosen nonprofit. You can choose one of the nonprofits available in the app selection. Beam explains their straightforward process saying, “every time you swipe as usual at our partner brands, you get to choose where the brand donates part of your purchase — at zero extra cost to you.”

Beam currently has 38 nonprofits listed as options in the app selection. However, we should note that brands choose which of the 38 nonprofits they list as options for their specific brand partnership. Beam currently has 14 partner brands across several industries (from food to furniture). You can find the names of the brands and nonprofits listed on the official site’s About page.

Keeping Track to Stay on Track

In social enterprise, staying true to your initiative and producing results is highly valued. Not delivering on your aims or appearing to waver can cause backlash. Accountability is one way to show you are staying true to your initiative, while simultaneously being effective at calming backlash when things do go awry.

Have you heard the term “Accountability Partner”? You most likely have heard this term, and know this describes a relationship where one person holds another accountable for staying committed to a goal. Beam uses accountability to strengthen the relationship with their audience.

For instance, you can watch your donation add up to an actual marker. You get to see that your contribution does go somewhere, and does develop over time. On Beam’s home page they explain what continued use of the app will show you: “When you visit Beam partners again, you’ll see your impact grow towards tangible goals — like protecting a half-acre of rainforest, or funding updates to a week of computer science curriculum for girls in STEM.” Now users can feel better knowing that Beam’s service is actually following through, and with clear specifics.

Beam is not only accountable externally, but seem to have a high accountability internally. Throughout their official site, you will repeatedly come across their mention of being truly genuine about social impact. In taking accountability for their operation, Beam explains to their audience their priority of screening nonprofits. Beam explains:

“We also use vetting mechanisms like Charity Navigator and Guidestar to make sure that we’re only featuring the highest impact, most transparent nonprofits possible on the Beam platform.”

Separation of Mission and Sustainability

Beam also goes one step further in accountability towards their social good priority with their business model. The app gains money strictly through the brands they partner with. Donations from the purchases are never tampered with, so 100% of the impact created by purchases go to nonprofits. This eliminates any mixed feelings towards the way Beam earns money, and also allows Beam to have less stress around the thought of securing money.

If you read Beam’s FAQ, you find Beam explaining how the company gets paid:

“HOW DO YOU GET PAID? DO YOU TAKE A CUT OF THE DONATION?

No, we’re a mission-driven company and never take any part of the donation. Our partner brands pay us for the volume of new customers we drive to visit for the first time, and the increases in loyalty they see from existing customers.”

Beam is not afraid to be held accountable, and seems to actually prefer it. This anchor method is driving their decisions in how the company chooses to operate and interact.

On Beam’s official site, they dedicate an entire blog post to Social Good Skeptics dispelling any conspiracy or concern of foul play. At one point, Beam says:

“We’re not serious about too many things in life, but accountability is one of them. So we take steps to ensure that the nonprofits we’re affiliated with are focused on maximizing impact. And by impact, we mean measurable benefits.”

Applicable Takeaway 

An anchor-based on accountability can help develop your resolve to provide a high standard in your service. One beneficial experiment is to make a list identifying standards you believe could raise your company’s impact.

Beam’s straightforward accountability completes this profile.

People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check-in for more conversation-starting content.

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