Fresh Fitness is a fast-growing chain of low-cost gyms in Denmark. With low-cost all about providing just the core experience and nothing more, and members paying only for what they use and value, CEO Rasmus Ingerslev and his team introduced a small charge of 3 Danish Kroner for any members choosing to take a one-minute shower – that’s around US$0.50. This achieves two things: water consumption is reduced and money is raised. However, this was never about the money, so what should they do with it?
Let others be liberated by water
The insight Fresh Fitness had was that, while their members were enjoying a lovely post-workout shower, there were other people in the world with no access to clean, safe water. The idea was therefore to bring the two sides of this story together. Now, when a member takes a shower, the money they spend goes directly to the Danish Red Cross to finance new fresh water wells in Uganda.
Fresh Fitness believes in making long-term commitments, so it has agreed a three-year partnership with the Danish Red Cross with a pledge to donate a minimum of 100,000 Danish Kroner (US$18,000) a year. This is very different from much of the ‘charitising’ that takes place. What is charitising? It’s advertising the business dressed up as a short-term act of charity.
As at January 2014, Fresh Fitness had already donated 200,000 Danish Kroner (US$36,000). This has enabled the Danish Red Cross to build two new fresh water wells in the Karamoja area of north-east Uganda, providing safe and clean water for 500 people for the next seven years. Villagers are also taught how to maintain the wells, giving them complete control over this critical resource.
Clean water changes everything
Imagine, rather than waving your children off to school this morning with their school bag, instead giving them a 23-litre jerry can and sending them off for three hours to collect water from a stream contaminated with animal waste. The choice in places like Karamoja is simple: school or water. This is why locally available clean and safe water transforms lives. It’s the building block for good health and unlocks time: time to read, to write, to attend school and to do what should be the right of every child – to play.
So what can you do?
Identify a social cause that your customers, staff and other stakeholders care about. Water matters, but perhaps your organisation wants to use its influence in some other way.
The important thing is to start something that matters. Why? That’s easy – because you can.