UNiDAYS in the Life: Tim Diamond, Cotton On Foundation


Tim Diamond, Cotton On Foundation’s General Manager, breaks it down into four simple steps. Easy as!

An image

1. Identify the opportunity

Back in 2007, the Cotton On Group’s Founder, Nigel Austin, was asked to make a donation to a healthcare centre in the small, remote village of Mannya in Southern Uganda. Keen to follow his dollar and see the impact of his donation, Nigel jumped on a plane to Uganda. He not only fell in love with the village but identified a real opportunity to change the lives of the locals.

He said I needed to visit, so I headed to Uganda. After spending time in the community, connections were formed and we got straight to work. The task ahead was a big one: the area where Mannya is located had been devastated by the HIV epidemic—the effects can still be seen today. The Mannya Healthcare Centre was our first project, and it’s just grown from there!

2. Eyes on the prize

Cotton On Foundation (COF) exists to empower youth globally through quality education. Education is at the core of everything we do. But that extends far beyond the walls of a school: a child’s journey starts long before they set foot in a classroom. We truly believe quality education is the key to ending extreme poverty and gives every child the potential to change the world.

Our 2020 Mission is to develop 20,000 educational places globally. We’re actually about to exceed 10,000 in the coming months, so are well on the way to achieving our goal. We’re backing ourselves!

3. Get everyone involved

Our customers all over the world have supported COF by purchasing a product every three seconds! From 2007 to the start of 2018 we raised $120,000; this year, we’re heading towards a figure of $15 million!

Gen Z have proven to have a genuine interest in making a difference and changing the world, which is pretty in-line with what we do here at COF. Many of our supporters are from high school or university and the action they take has a direct impact on our projects. For example, one bottle of water can provide seven bricks towards a school build in Southern Uganda. Our movement is all about youth supporting youth.

Our team—we’ve got over 22,000 team members globally—have led the way. More than 600 passionate advocates have visited our project sites across the world and seen the impact we’re all making firsthand. Their motivation is phenomenal.

For me, the most incredible thing is working with super-talented people, supporting our team to do what they do best, and seeing them succeed. But I also value the failures and learning experiences—it’s how we improve as individuals and as a team. In fact, it’s one of our core values at the Cotton On Group: we call it ‘Ever Better’.

4. Set the example

We hope we’re leading the way and helping shape the future of retail and socially conscious business. We have a responsibility to drive real social change, and it’s becoming increasingly important to our customers, who now expect brands to not only have an opinion on critical issues, but also to be doing something about it.

I think we’ve only just scraped the surface, though. If we can engage our customers on a whole new level and help them see their simple action is making a world of difference—every time—I think we can drive this model further than ever before. To break the process down simply:

Amazing products ⬇️

Take action ⬇️

Make an impact ⬇️

Prove it.

As for what’s next, we have big plans. Our 20,000 educational places by 2020 Mission is quickly approaching and so, too, our announcement around our post-2020 agenda. Watch this space!

Shop the Cotton On Foundation collection here to support their local and global education projects.

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