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Buy One Give One Cause Marketing for Soldiers

Current Energy, a website which sells energy efficiency products online, is offering a buy one give one solar charger for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latest example of a trend I noted back in January with TOMS Shoes

When you buy the $150 Solio for Soldiers Kit, which uses solar cells to charge gadgets like cell phones, iPods, and digital cameras, Current Energy ships a matching version to another soldier.

This promotion, therefore, differs from the other buy one give one promotions highlighted in the past in this blog in that you don’t get the product yourself.

Instead, it’s a two for one donation. Earlier this year I saw a similar campaign with harmonicas, of all things.

There’s no mention made of how this works. No testimonials from soldiers who have received one about how they feel about getting one. No indication of why Current Energy is doing this.

In a case where Current Energy is asking for a $150 donation, we need more details. The 120 words they give us just aren’t enough.

The Solio for Soldier isn’t the only cause Current Energy is supporting with its products. They also solicit a $1 donation for a tree planting by the nonprofit American Forests and sell a buy one give one solar-powered flashlight for $35. You get one flashlight and second goes to the Ikot Usen Secondary School in Nigeria. You can also buy a $100 Karito Kids Dolls, which generates a 3 percent charitable donation.

Finally, I’m not Mr. Language Person, that’s the immortal Dave Barry. But the website copy says the kits are going to ‘soldiers.’ Strictly speaking, in American English a soldier is someone who serves in the Army. But the term is often used to generically refer to personnel in all the military branches. So I presume when they say soldiers they mean Airman, Sailors and Marines, too, all of whom are on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq to some degree. 

For instance, my neighbor, a physician’s assistant in the U.S. Air Force, spent all of last year in Afghanistan seconded to an Army unit. Likewise, U.S. Marines in battle stations are always accompanied by Navy Corpsman. 


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the help on Twitter! (@kynamdoan)

I'd just like to add to this discussion One Laptop per Child (OLPC)'s ( Give One, Get One program where you pay for two laptops, one of which you receive. "This allows OLPC to give away thousands of laptops to places like Ethiopia, Mongolia and Rwanda."

It's good to see programs like this and the Timeraiser ( auction where patrons bid for art pieces with volunteer hours (e.g. 1000 hours) and did not receive their artwork until the hours were completed.

We need more creative solutions such as these. It's a good feeling to know that people do indeed consider social good as having utility :).

KyNam Doan
Hi KyNam:

Thanks for the comment. Glad to Tweet you.

Love your approach. CRM usually is customer relationship management, but I was trying to save characters on that Tweet. Check this piece in CRM Buyer on "The Other CRM," which quotes me:

Since Scoble picked up your story, it's just a matter of time. Plus, you need to hook up with Jason Alba at Let me know if you'd like an intro.

Glad you raised OLPC, which I've known about for a long time, but have yet to really give its due.

Best wishes,
Anonymous said…
Yes there are some great Buy One Give One causes happening now. Giving away a product of the same nature is not easy for most businesses but Buy1GIVE1™ (Buy One Give One) makes it super easy for ANY business any where in the world to do transaction-based giving. Rock over to their site and you will be amazed at the work they are doing there supporting heaps of charities.


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