YouBeDo: You can make a difference. You can be the change. Do it now. How? Just buy a book! YouBeDo.com sells the same books as online retailers such as bol.com, for the same prices, but with a twist. YouBeDo donates 10 percent of the book price to a charity of the customer’s choosing.
“The world just doesn’t make sense, when you look at it,” says Michael van Loenen, the 30-year-old co-founder of YouBeDo. He and longtime friend Bert van Ingen realized that they wanted to do something about that, from an entrepreneurial base. “That’s how YouBeDo began five years ago.”
“People consume a lot, and YouBeDo uses that,” van Loenen says. “The book market turned out to fit our plan the best because it’s a big market, and in The Netherlands there’s a fixed price on all books. That’s why it’s very easy for customers to compare us with other bookstores and to see that we offer the same prices.”
More active participation
YouBeDo started off working with a few big development organizations until a small organization, Smiles, asked why. “Then we realized that development organizations’ charity investments were not ours to make, so we changed our system,” van Loenen explains. “When you have a family member suffering from a rare disease, you would rather give to a small charity dedicated to that than to a big development organization.” People can now support a (professional) charity by filling in a form on the website. “It works, but now we have a lot of small charities that nobody donates any money to. That’s why we are currently trying to create more active participation.”
It’s YouBeDo’s dream to be able to tell the customer what exactly the donated money is used for. “That requires a lot from the charities, we realize that. What we already have is a donor calculator on the website, which counts how many total euros are donated, and how much for each charity.”
Partially sharing your turnover should be a basic principle
At first, YouBeDo partnered mainly with private individuals, but they kept on receiving e-mails from companies interested in participating. At the moment, they also create bookshops for individual companies. “We only provide individual bookshops for special partners, not for every company,” van Loenen says. “We made a bookshop for Seats2Meet. I think Seats2Meet is special, because they’re open-minded and focus on a system of sharing, just like us.”
“Growth is the most important thing in our economy—I see it as a triangle. Everything moves from the bottom upwards to the top of the company. I think that’s wrong,” explains van Loenen. “Partially sharing your turnover should be a basic principle, along with continuity and growth. There should also be money going from the top downwards.”
Ten percent of the price of each book sold by YouBeDo goes to charity. That’s a lot, but van Loenen thinks the company can make a profit. “We aren’t there yet, but I know that we will be in the future. I think we are already special, but that we will be truly successful only when each continent has at least one YouBeDo office. We’re talking about the future here, because right now we are focusing on The Netherlands. Within five years we want to cross the border.”
Who knows what kind of change the company can create once that happens?