In the article “Giving Intelligence,” Sue-Lynn Moses shares an excellent example of how the philanthropic impact of a corporate foundation can both make a real difference in society by focusing and enhance the corporate reputation of the company, in this case IKEA. Too often we see corporate philanthropy that is either too self-serving philanthropy or totally disconnected from the core competency or mission of the sponsoring organization. Take the time to read about how IKEA Foundation program conducted in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner on Refugees avoids this all too common trap.
Funded by the Ikea Foundation, Better Shelter is a for-profit social enterprise born out of a collaboration between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Back in 2009, the two organizations got together to develop a more durable housing alternative to the flimsy, poorly insulated tents typically used to house refugees around the world.
By 2013, the Better Shelter prototype was unveiled, and a 40-family, 18-month pilot program was launched in Ethiopia and Iraq. The pilot program was successful, and the UNHCR placed a 10,000-unit order in early 2015. The shelters are being used for UNHCRs global operations and the first refugee camps to take delivery were located in Iraq.
Profits earned by Better Shelter are reinvested in the company, which is currently getting input from its users to improve the shelter’s design. Any remaining profits are distributed to the Housing for All Foundation, an NGO that was also established by the Ikea Foundation.