Sweet 16: A Snapshot of Giving Back

Click here to order the December 2016 issue in which this article appeared.

Direct selling is a personal business, and for many of the individuals and companies involved, the personal commitment goes far beyond dollars and cents. For those so inclined, the direct selling channel offers an opportunity to practice corporate philanthropy at a grand scale, engaging not just the corporate offices but also rallying the strength of an independent salesforce to go out and make a difference in the world.

The beneficiaries of direct selling’s charity work are as diverse as the companies themselves, touching virtually every cause you can think of in every corner of the globe. At Direct Selling News, we think of it as an Industry With Heart. To share the story of this work, the team at DSN selected the following 16 examples from throughout the past year to illustrate the abundance of philanthropic work undertaken by the direct selling community. This is by no means a complete list of companies that have demonstrated a giving spirit nor a full sampling of the generosity expressed by companies listed, so please refer to our website for more great stories about our charitable industry.

Young Living

TextYoung Living Founder Gary Young helps the people of Nepal rebuild after a devastating earthquake.

Young Living Founder Gary Young started 2016 by visiting Nepal, where he witnessed first-hand how much rebuilding work remained from the earthquakes that hit the region in 2015. At that time, an estimated 1.2 million people were living in tents and other make-shift shelters. After passing out blankets in a village, Young met with the Vice President of Nepal to find out how to start building houses. The plan was simple enough: Hire a local engineer and architect and get started.

Since then, the Young Living Foundation has ordered and delivered a brick-making machine the organization had used successfully in its work in Ecuador, and hired a Nepalese engineer, architect and project manager to be trained on the equipment. As a result, Young Living has been able to establish a plan to rebuild 112 homes and two schools. The foundation is involved in a variety of projects around the globe, with Member donations now measuring in the millions of dollars annually. 

Nerium International

TextNerium executives present a $1.3 million contribution to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Since the company began five years ago, Texas-based Nerium International has demonstrated a commitment to giving back that is as strong as its commitment to corporate growth. Through its charitable arm, the Nerium Ripple Foundation, the skincare company has two philanthropic partners: Big Brothers Big Sisters and World Vision, an international humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization. Nerium’s cumulative total amount donated to nonprofits is more than $3 million, and the company has an overall goal for 2016 to contribute $1.8 million. BBBS has honored Nerium’s ongoing contributions with its 2013 Community Spirit Award and 2015 President’s Award, as well as this year’s Honorary Corporate Partner Award, for being the organization’s largest corporate donor partner in America.


TextWorldVentures and Nancy Lieberman bring a DreamCourt to S. Carolina.

The WorldVentures Foundation’s mission is to serve disadvantaged children globally by providing sustainable solutions to local needs. The foundation has logged more than 180 VolunTours globally since 2010, volunteer vacations designed with the specific goal of serving children and their communities around the world. In 2016, WorldVentures, along with Hug It Forward, has completed 100 Eco Bottle Schools in Guatemala. Additionally, the foundation has worked to build more than 30 DreamCourts, outdoor basketball courts and play spaces for children in low-income communities designed in collaboration with Nancy Lieberman Charities.

Southwestern Advantage

TextTrey Campbell provide students in the Dominican Republic with desks and school supplies.

Within the direct selling community, service travel isn’t limited to travel-oriented companies. One of the oldest direct selling companies in the world, educational bookseller Southwestern Advantage, has long included giving as a component of the principles it teaches to the college students that comprise its salesforce. Many members of the salesforce, known as Dealers, donate to the company’s Share the Advantage program, and sellers who reach certain goals are eligible to participate in a five-day incentive trip, one day of which is devoted to a service project.

As this edition went to press, the Southwestern Advantage team was heading to the Dominican Republic, where the students will be serving two schools: Centro Educativo Shalom and Centro Educativo Nazaret. At Centro Educativo Shalom, the team will be adding two classrooms and replacing all of the desks, which had warped in the moist tropical air. At both schools, they will be purchasing necessary school supplies and equipment.


TextMore than 220,000 people have participated in Avon 39 since 2003.

Publicly traded Avon Products Inc. and privately held New Avon LLC come together to support the Avon Foundation for Women, one of the oldest foundations in the direct selling community. The foundation’s first grant, in 1955, was a single, $400 scholarship. In 2016, Avon and the Avon Foundation surpassed $1 billion in cumulative donations.

The foundation is focused on two causes: the eradication of breast cancer and ending domestic and gender violence worldwide. In 2016, some of its achievements included: the release of a first-of-its-kind study exploring the prevalence and mortality rates of breast cancer among the U.S. Hispanic population; providing $500,000 in funding to the Vital Voices Global Partnership to start five Justice Institutes on Gender-Based Violence in Colombia, India, Philippines, South Africa and Turkey; and the 14th annual series of Avon 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer fundraisers.

Mary Kay

TextThe Mary Kay Foundation awards a grant to The Spring of Tampa Bay women’s shelter.

In March, Mary Kay celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Mary Kay Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to two causes: research of cancers affecting women and preventing domestic abuse. The company and foundation are active in supporting both causes throughout the year, with significant events including: the May 12 Global Day of Beauty; a $250,000 gift to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to establish a Distinguished Professorship in Women’s Cancer Research to honor Dr. Jerry Shay, a renowned cancer researcher at UTSW who chairs the foundation’s Research Review Committee; and $100,000 in cancer research grants to medical schools and research facilities across the U.S. In October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the foundation announced it was providing $20,000 grants to 150 domestic violence shelters across the United States.



In 2008, ACN selected Ronald McDonald House Charities as its global charity partner. Since then, the North Carolina-based telecommunications, energy and essential services company has raised money for the organization at each of its global events, matching donations from employees and Independent Business Owners dollar for dollar. In 2016, its largest annual event—the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte Celebrity Golf Tournament—raised a record $261,500. “We are so fortunate to have the support of ACN,” said Mona Johnson-Gibson, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. “We always have a blast at the events they host for us throughout the year, but the best thing about them is that they are focused on the families we serve.”

TextBrownie Wise


Sometimes, giving offers an opportunity to recognize the past while establishing something positive for the future. In July, Tupperware donated $200,000 to help develop a park in Osceola County, Florida, about four miles south of the company’s headquarters. The park will be named Brownie Wise Park in honor of Tupperware’s pioneering saleswoman, and the surrounding area will be known as Tupperware Island Conservation Area. The park will include an information kiosk that will provide history and background about the company and Wise, who ran Tupperware’s Home Party Division from 1951 to 1958.

Thirty-One Gifts

TextGirls on the Run seeks to help empower girls by integrating running and positive youth development, helping them to build confidence, character and connection.

The company’s efforts in 2016 included: serving as the official sponsor of the 20th birthday campaign for Girls on the Run International, an organization that uses running to empower girls; providing funding for Girls Take Flight, an initiative at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to support girls facing mental and behavioral health illnesses; and an annual Cindy Monroe Values & Vision Scholarship for a high school junior or senior from Hamilton County, Tennessee, who embodies the core values of company founder Cindy Monroe.


TextAdvoCare and the Ragus family launch the AdvoCare Foundation.

Philanthropy has been an important part of the culture at Texas-based AdvoCare throughout the company’s 23-year history, but in 2016 it established a more formal framework for giving by starting the AdvoCare Foundation. The foundation received a $1.5 million initial gift from the company and the family of AdvoCare’s late founder, Charlie Ragus. Its first round of grants totaled $150,000, which went to eight organizations focused on child health and safety.


TextDick Hoyt (center) with Le-Vel co-founders and co-CEOs Jason Camper and Paul Gravette at Le-Vel’s annual convention.

A number of direct selling companies earmark proceeds from specific products for charitable efforts. One of the fastest-growing young companies in the channel, Le-Vel Brands LLC, used the strategy to raise $240,000 for the Hoyt Foundation, which works to assist disabled young people. In June, Le-Vel offered a limited-edition version of its Derma Fusion Technology (DFT) patch, with $5 from each Hoyt-edition DFT going to the foundation.

The foundation was formed in 1989 by Dick Hoyt, a retired lieutenant colonel, and his son, Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to speak or use his hands and legs. Despite these challenges, the father-son team has gained recognition for competing in more than 1,100 athletic events in the last 37 years, including 32 Boston Marathons and six Ironman competitions, with Dick pushing his son in a custom-made wheelchair as they run. The contribution is part of an ongoing partnership between Le-Vel and Team Hoyt. Le-Vel previously donated $50,000 to the Hoyt Foundation, and the senior Hoyt was a surprise headline speaker at the company’s annual salesforce convention in April.


TextNutrilite Power of 5 Campaign supports children around the world, including the ones pictured here, from Zambia.

The world’s largest direct selling company amped up its commitment to childhood nutrition by making a pledge on Oct. 16, World Food Day, to feed 500,000 children around the world by the end of 2019 through its Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign. Amway worked with the World Health Organization to develop the Nutrilite Little Bits supplement, which can fortify a child’s food with 15 essential nutrients. Amway has distributed Little Bits to more than 30,000 malnourished children since 2014.

Nu Skin

TextIn Malawi, Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt congratulates a graduate of the Force for Good Foundation’s School of Agriculture for Family Independence.

Nu Skin Enterprises has used its expertise in the wellness field to fuel an initiative to combat malnutrition since 2002. Nu Skin scientists developed VitaMeal, a nutrient-dense rice and lentil meal, and through purchases by the company’s distributors, customers and employees the product is donated to feed people around the world. This Nourish the Children initiative reached a milestone in 2016, when it donated its 500 millionth meal.

“I’ve seen firsthand the difference that VitaMeal has made in my country,” Malawi’s former first lady, Madam Callista Mutharika, said in the company’s announcement of the achievement. “Its impact has been life-changing for thousands of kids. Children who were once hungry are now healthy, strong and able to go to school. Mothers who had no food can now provide their loved ones with a warm and nutritious meal.”

The company also celebrates 20 years of giving through its Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation, which focuses broadly on health, education, economic opportunity and disaster relief. Nu Skin aims to help children in these areas through projects such as the School of Agriculture for Family Independence, where the people of Malawi can learn better agricultural techniques to provide for themselves.


TextUSANA Founder Dr. Myron Wentz (left) with CHF Founder David Phillips.

Another direct selling company active in supporting efforts to relieve malnutrition is USANA Health Sciences. In September, USANA founder Dr. Myron Wentz received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF) in recognition for his support of the charity, which distributes food to children and families in need. At distribution centers in Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, and Los Angeles, CHF volunteers pack bulk food into 20-pound boxes known as Food Paks, which are then distributed around the world.

Wentz has funded a number of projects, including Cargo of Hope, a feeding program that has supplied 11.7 million meals; Beds for Ukraine Orphans, which built and outfitted 2,400 beds; and Wentz Medical Centers in Uganda, Cambodia and Malawi. Two more centers are in development. In addition to personal contributions made by Wentz, the USANA True Health Foundation has donated more than $21.3 million in cash and nutritional supplements to CHF.


TextThe Caterina’s Club food delivery truck featuring Chef Bruno Serato.

Youngevity International’s Be The Change Foundation supports a roster of hand-picked charities, among them American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. Earlier this year, Youngevity partnered with Caterina’s Club, a nonprofit founded by Italian chef Bruno Serato. Each week, Caterina’s Club serves a nutritious meal of freshly made pasta and vegetables to more than 1,800 children as well as helps those in need find shelter.

In September, Youngevity celebrated its annual Be The Change Day, with distributors and employees participating in a service project. This year’s project supported My Story Matters, an organization that helps families facing difficult circumstances create customized storybooks. In the morning, Youngevity volunteers visited a high school in the Salt Lake City area and interviewed children who are refugees from more than 70 countries. In the afternoon, the volunteers worked with children at a local homeless shelter.


TextScentsy consultants, employees and community members rock for 12 hours straight raising funds for local charities.

Company Founders Heidi and Orville Thompson have worked to foster an environment for every member of the Scentsy family (consultants, employees and customers) to get involved and give back. The Thompsons created the Scentsy Family Foundation in 2009 and, since then, the organization has donated more than $5.6 million to causes that support families. Each season, Scentsy introduces a new Charitable Cause product, supporting causes ranging from autism awareness and heart disease, to breast cancer research. Most recently, from September until the end of February, Scentsy pledged to donate $8 from the sale of every Love Heals Warmer to Shriners Hospitals for Children®, a nonprofit that provides expert pediatric specialty care for children, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

Through the Scentsy Family Foundation, the company also provides academic scholarships and direct donations. One such example is its Scentsy Rock-a-Thon. This year marked the third occurrence for the company event, with more than 1,100 people spending 30 minutes or more rocking in chairs for 12 hours. Scentsy chose 12 hours to mark how many years the company has been in business. Rock-a-Thon raised $251,441 for Family Advocates. The local organization offers voluntary parent and child services to help more than 200 families per week build skills that prevent child abuse and neglect. Participants also donated 6,000 baby items.

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