How We Make Change: Constructive Capital, Activism and Giving!

Learn about our approach to constructive capital, activism and giving, and explore how we dedicate our profits, people, and product to nonprofit organizations, policy change & advocacy campaigns, constructive investing & lending, supplier-initiated fair trade community projects, and our All-One International Initiative.

Table of Contents

Dr. Bronner's employees posing together

In the current profit-focused economic system, the default mode of production is extractive and destructive to both communities and the environment. Because of this, there is a growing movement of businesses moving towards what we call Constructive Capitalism: the idea that the purpose of business must extend beyond personal financial gain and instead be for the benefit of humanity and the planet. 

To embody this concept, we work to ensure our supply chains and employment practices are as equitable and sustainable as possible, and we use our company as an engine to fund the causes we care about. Under the banner of Constructive Capital, the resources we contribute to the world include: 

  • Profit – we cap executive salaries at five times our lowest-paid fully-vested position, allowing us to dedicate all profits not needed for the company’s operations to activism and charitable causes. 
  • People – we commit in-kind labor to campaigns, nonprofits and cause-aligned businesses to work on strategy, trainings, or just plain showing up! 
  • Products – whether as a show of support, or for aid projects where personal care is a necessity we can provide, we make product donations when and where resources allow. 

Each year, we develop a set of philanthropic and political objectives. As best we can, we review the current landscape of organizations, issues, and movements to determine what we believe is needed where. Then we assess what resources we have available and make plans to strategically deploy them. Finally, we evaluate our impact and our partners’ impact to inform future strategies. Our aim in support of all our causes is to positively influence personal transformation, to change or stop destructive institutions, and to build and support ethical and sustainable alternatives to those institutions.  

Graph showcasing how Dr. Bronner's thinks through core cause solutions

With all we do, we hope to model a better approach to doing business. 

Support for Nonprofit Organizations

Alliance San Diego members stand in front of Chicano Park, San Diego

We are dedicated to supporting nonprofits and grassroots organizations to do what they do best: make change. We support them through 1) financial giving and product donations, and 2) training and workshops. 

We give money through two primary vehicles—Dr. Bronner’s company itself and the Dr. Bronner’s Family Foundation. Donations made through the company make up the majority of our giving. Both are considered by invitation only. 

The organizations we support focus on a variety of issues, including Animal Advocacy, Environment & Regenerative Organic Agriculture, Community Betterment, Drug Policy & Criminal Justice Reform, and Environment & Regenerative Organic Agriculture. 

We list recipients of our giving program in our All-One Report each year.    

Policy Change & Advocacy

Hemp activists and Dr. Bronner's staff stand triumphantly on Capitol Hill behind a banner that reads "VICTORY FOR HEMP."

We strive to make meaningful policy change on the causes we are passionate about—through funding, contributing in-kind labor to campaigns and initiatives, and building public awareness and engagement leveraging press coverage, social media, and our iconic soap labels (continuing Dr. Bronner’s legacy of agit-prop!). In the past twenty years we have supported campaigns for: 

The first political campaign we supported was the effort to legalize industrial hemp in the United States. Hemp, which had been banned as part of the country’s overzealous War on Drugs, has been an ingredient in Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps for over two decades. The fight for our right to source hemp from U.S. farmers has spanned just as long. Our support for this cause included founding the Hemp History Week campaign. Our CEO David Bronner even locked himself in a cage in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience to promote the many uses of industrial hemp and protest the farming ban! After many incremental victories, the movement finally achieved federal policy change in 2018 with the passage of the U.S. Farm Bill, which included the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp amendment. This legislation officially legalized hemp farming nationwide and removed hemp from the list of federally controlled substances.  

In recent years, we have launched two public education and advocacy campaigns: Heal Soul and Heal Earth, complete with special-edition soap labels detailing important information about the campaigns. Heal Earth promotes regenerative organic agriculture in our fight to rehabilitate the Earth’s soil and our approach to stewardship of the land. Heal Soul is dedicated to improving access to and conservation of psychedelics, supporting Indigenous peoples' rights to practice their medicine traditions, and continued research into psychedelic assisted therapy. We celebrated the passing of two Heal Soul ballot measures—Decriminalize Nature DC, Initiative 81 and Oregon Psilocybin Therapy Measure, Yes on 109.  

Constructive Investing and Lending

four women, a Dr. Bronner's employee and the staff of Dirt Don't Hurt talking to each other at a table at a Natural Products Expo.

Another part of our vision of Constructive Capital is investing and lending to help emerging ethical and sustainable business. It can be hard to see how alternative, ethical, and sustainable industrial solutions will ever gain the ground they need to replace established structures, especially when standard investment practices are profit-first and low-risk. However, there are emerging, constructive investment models that accept a high level of risk, or concessionary returns, to generate positive impact and enable third-party investment that otherwise would not be possible.  

We created a nonprofit impact fund to support companies and organizations, often with seed money, who are finding innovative ways to change markets, transform models of production, and provide the infrastructure for future innovations. Sectors we support include natural body care, regenerative organic agriculture, cannabis, as well as psychedelics and mental health research. Philosopher Foods is one business we support. They seek to create a future in which more ethical practices become the standard. They are doing this through becoming the first Regenerative Organic Certified™ nut butter company of their kind. 

In addition, Dr. Bronner’s launched our Small Business Mentoring Program in 2022 to support BIPOC-owned natural product businesses disproportionately disadvantaged in networks and support. Each year we support and partner with a small company and pair them with our staff to gain expertise on brand strategy, retail account acquisition and management, mass market distribution, public relations, and more! Our inaugural partner Dirt Don’t Hurt is a San Diego-based all-natural, plant-based skin and toothcare line founded in 2017 and owned by three sisters – Sativa, Maritza, and Kaya.  

    International Fair Trade Funds

    A teacher and her students at the newly created preschool in Ghana.

    As an important part of our commitment to fair trade sourcing, we pay a 10% premium to a community fund connected to each of the supplier businesses we source from. These funds are directed to community development projects selected by a committee made up of the suppliers’ farmers, community members, and other local partners. Rather than imposing what we think these communities might need from an outside perspective, local community members determine what they believe will make a positive impact in their communities.  

    Most recently, the staff at Serendipalm, our sister-company in Ghana that supplies us with palm oil, allocated funds to provide their kids and grandkids more inspiring and affordable pre-schooling. Education is key to creating a fairer and more just world. After many years in the making, through outreach and teacher training programs, the doors for the Montessori preschool at Serendipalm’s Regenerative Learning Center opened. The school educates 100 children—learn more in our 2023 All-One Report! 

    In rural India, we have collaborated with staff at Pavitramenthe, the business that produces our Regenerative Organic Certified® mint oil, to tackle the issue of menstrual hygiene in their community. Without access to proper products, this is a problem for thousands of people who are forced to stay inside or use insufficient and unsanitary alternatives to go about their days. This is a leading cause of young girls dropping out of school. After research and a pilot program with promising results, we helped support the distribution of reusable pads free of charge. The pads are sourced from Relief Pad, a company from outside Delhi, and provided to nearly two thousand farming households who work with Pavitramenthe.      

    All-One International Initiative

    Climate justice march in France

    Over the past twenty years, Dr. Bronner’s has grown an extensive global sales network—we are now sold in over 40 countries! This began when Michael Bronner—grandson of Emanuel Bronner and Dr. Bronner’s president—was inspired by his years spent teaching English in Japan and set out to expand the business into new markets around the world.  

    As a global brand, it is imperative that we model our mission as “the fighting and uniting soap company” internationally. To do this, we created an international philanthropy program, ensuring that localized mission-aligned activism is a major priority for Dr. Bronner’s and our local distributors in each of the markets the company sells in around the world.  

    Through this initiative, at a minimum, 1% of sales to Dr. Bronner’s participating international markets are donated to local efforts in support of social justice, environmental sustainability, and animal advocacy. 

    See all the recipients of the All-One International Initiative by country and by year since 2019.

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