Since 2013, every employee at the snack company Kind has taken part in a somewhat secret initiative. If they spotted a random act of kindness–like a stranger holding the door to a coffee shop, or sharing directions on the subway–they could hand out a little black card. It acknowledged the little moment of humanity, and as a gift, the card was good for a free Kind bar.
“Now, we are opening up the experience to our broader community,” says Kind founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky. Because starting today, #kindawesome cards can be handed out to anyone by anyone in the world. The system relies on a new digital platform. You spot an act of kindness, then you head to howkindofyou.com. From there, you can send a virtual card via Facebook, email, or Twitter.
Once redeemed, the good samaritan is mailed both a Kind snack and his or her own, digital #kindawesome card to pass along. “What’s magical about the #kindawesome cards is that we’re not interrupting the act of kindness at the moment it happens,” Lubetzky says. “Only after the act is complete do we then approach and celebrate the person. The cards remind us that small exchanges of kindness are happening every day and every minute, and really give people a chance to step outside their comfort zone and notice that. The more we recognize these exchanges, the more we will perpetuate them.” Lubetzky hasn’t tracked how many #kindawesome cards he’s given out in the last two years, but he estimates that he’s handed out about one a day.
The design of the cards themselves has been evolving for years now. They all riff off of Kind’s black and four-color packaging, but originally, they worked in an entirely different way. Previously, Kind cards had a pay it forward mandate–“You’ve Been Kinded, Pass It On”–with the expectation that, once you received a card, you’d then do a kind act for someone else. Now, the cards have been rebranded as a reward, instead. It’s a small change that Lubetzky believes will make the whole gesture more earnest (both as a motivator to do nice things, and a reward for doing them).
Yes, Kind’s new campaign may seem like a marketing ploy just to coax you into buying more Kind bars. That’s at least a little true, Lubetzky says, but he’s quick to counter that just because it’s marketing doesn’t mean it’s insincere.
“At Kind, we challenge ourselves to employ what we call the ‘and philosophy’ whenever possible. At its core, the and philosophy is about avoiding false compromises and thinking creatively to achieve seemingly incompatible goals,” Lubetzky says. “The program enables our social and business objectives to live in harmony, supporting and advance one another, instead of living at odds.”
And I’d add, a dark chocolate and sea salt bar sure beats one of those creepy free hugs.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that people were mailed physical Kind cards with their treats, when in reality, the card is digital.