The purpose of Donate Design is to build sustainable, ethical businesses in disadvantaged regions around the world. Projects submitted for assistance must guarantee a minimum of 51% of indigenous resources used - labor and supplies. The project must demonstrate sustainability, both as a business, and in the use of resources.

Projects must adhere to principles of ethical fashion and fair trade. Ethical fashion means producing materials and goods in the fashion industry that sustain use of natural resources, preserve natural environments and respect the inhabitants of ecosystems. Although criteria varies by organization and company, Bel Esprit endorses the following:

-Developing and producing fashion fabrics, materials and goods, man-made or natural, using processes that respect and preserve the environment
-Producing fashion fabrics, materials and goods that guarantee sustainable use of the local natural resources
-Producing fashion fabrics, materials and goods that do not use or destroy protected or endangered species of plants or animals
-Producing fashion fabrics, materials and goods that do not require the death of mammals, reptiles, fish or birds
-Producing fashion fabrics materials and goods that respect human rights and incorporate the principles of fair trade

Fair trade means providing a living wage to artisans and producers in developing countries for their work and/or their products. Although fair trade criteria varies by organization, Bel Esprit endorses the following:

-Guaranteeing a local living wage for workers and producers of goods and services
-Guaranteeing equal employment opportunities for all workers and producers
-Guaranteeing against the use of forced or slave labor, and child labor
-Guaranteeing working conditions that meet international health and safety standards
-Providing opportunities for economic growth and progress for local industries

The increased globalization of trade has made fair trade increasingly important. It is essential that developing nations have the opportunity to compete in world markets and enjoy economic growth through their native industries. The growth of ethical fashion can have an impact on the global market. The greater the demand for products and services that adhere to the principles of ethical fashion, the greater the pressure to apply these principles to all trade.