“Pay it Forward” Case Studies

“Pay it Forward” has become a popular phrase for internal and external marketing campaigns, with several launched in 2020 (including campaigns from the Caring Community Foundation, the First Federal Bank of the Midwest, Kotn, Crowdfunder, and Green Goo). The examples found were primarily regional or smaller-scale when compared to the national-level campaign conducted recently by Verizon which features a series of celebrities performing or playing games.
A thorough search on connections between eBay and “pay it forward” was conducted, revealing another charity (separate from the one found in the initial findings) and the usage of the phrase on a community member badge. A similar phrase (“sell it forward”) was used in 2013. No other connections could be identified. Full details are provided below.

The Caring Community Foundation

  • The Caring Community Foundation launched a “Pay It Forward” campaign for 2020 in light of the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients and their ability to cover their basic costs of living while receiving cancer therapy.
  • The Caring Community Foundation is aiming to raise $150,000 to assist patients in meeting their basic needs while they are also receiving cancer treatment.
  • The Caring Community Foundation is based in the North Carolina region.

First Federal Bank of the Midwest

  • In 2016, the First Federal Bank of the Midwest launched an ongoing campaign called “Pay it Forward”.
  • As part of its Pay it Forward campaign in 2019, the bank aimed to give away $10,000 and give $10 to its 600 employees to spread “random acts of kindness” across the bank’s coverage area.
  • The campaign had a press reach of 472,000 and increased Facebook traffic for the bank by 300 percent from the previous year.


  • In April 2020, Kotn (a brand that makes simple clothing from cotton) started a new Pay it Forward campaign across North America.
  • Kotn’s campaign was designed to help them deal with overstock at the same time as helping consumers during a time of high need. 8,000 pieces of clothing were given away.
  • On April 28, the public was invited to follow a link online to sign up to be a part of the campaign and receive a free item of clothing. Participants who signed up could also invite two friends to sign up as well and to pass along the codes to additional friends to spread “kindness and gratitude.”


Green Goo

  • On November 10, 2020, Green Goo announced its new Pay it Forward campaign, which involves giving away $100,000 in prize packages and a much-needed allotment of hand sanitizer.
  • For eight weeks, a randomly selected winner will receive a $500 gift basket and the option of choosing an organization to receive Green Goo’s hand sanitizer.
  • Throughout the eight weeks, Green Goo is donating 100 gallons of its hand sanitizer to other organizations in need.

EBay Connections

  • A separate charity using the Pay it Forward phrasing (Pay it Forward Fertility) is available to select as an option to support by eBay sellers (this is not connected to eBay’s official strategy).
  • EBay has badges for volunteer members of its support community on its forums; one of these badges is a “pay it forward” badge.
  • A similar phrase, “sell it forward“, was used in 2013. For this program, prospective sellers could send in gently used fashion items to be sold by Goodwill. If they sold, the seller would receive half of the proceeds.
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