Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TOMS Shoes, Delivering Shoes to Childen in Need

TOMS Shoes, started not by a Tom, but by Blake Mycoskie, is a shoe company that manufactures lightweight, slip on, colorful and fun looking shoes that can be bought online. TOMS uses the “one-for-one” business philanthropy method, where for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will deliver a pair of shoes to a child in need. In 2008 they distributed 150,000 shoes to children in Argentina, Ethiopia and South Africa using a team of volunteers made up of shoe customers who signed up to help.
They also have taken their shoes on a road trip, described on their blog, to college campus fashion events and to recruit campuses to participate in the “One Day Without Shoes Event”. Students at USC and Southeastern University in FLA have signed up to leave their shoes home for the day. http://www.tomsshoesblog.com/
The “One Day Without Shoes” event is scheduled for April 16th, (not exactly the most hardship of days to go without wearing shoes in Southern CA or Florida), but nevertheless a clever way to promote the cause.
Mycoskie describes himself as a social entrepreneur who believes a business can do well by doing good. TOMS is definitely a for profit business that can continue to do philanthropy because of its profitability. The marketing comes from the customers promoting the business and the cause.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pura Vida Coffee

I just watched the Lehrer News Hour segment on PBS about Pura Vida Coffee. The News Hour now features a series about social entrepreneurship. Yesterday’s story was about a coffee company in Seattle that donates its profits to coffee growers in countries like Nicaragua and Costa Rica. www.pbs.org/newshour
Pura Vida Coffee. http://www.puravidacoffee.com/, sells organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee to 325 college campuses, and thousands of churches and scout troops sell the coffee as fundraisers. Pura Vida uses its funds to provide education to the farmers, clean water and latrines to the communities, helps bus children to school and supports a variety of other projects. There is a great video about these projects on their website.
Their slogan is “Do Good”. Their mission is to "sell coffee to create good" . Their coffee can also be purchased online.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour through Zara and Google

Zara, the fashion store, with fabulous European styled clothes, has posted their support of Earth Hour on their website: http://www.zara.com/. I also spotted Google's support on http://www.google/.com.

WWF is hoping to bring in a billion"votes" in the form of lights being turned off between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. The votes will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.
Google has also posted tips on how to power down you computers.
check out: http://www.earthhour.org/, or the Zara or Google websites.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Support Water Week and Tap Program

If you're going out to dinner this weekend consider eating at a restaurant that has signed up to support Unicef's TAP project. Restaurants all across the country will ask patrons to donate $1.00 towards the glass of water they usually get free with their meals. All the funds will go towards Unicef's Clean Water for children program. When you read their statistic that over 900 million people have no access to safe and clean water, that free glass of water on your table will seem very precious. Mission Street Food in San Francisco, cited in an earlier post, will be supporting the Tap progam this Sat.
Check out which restaurants in your area are supporting this project at http://www.tapproject.org/.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Doing Good By Eating Well

For the last fifteen years, a local non-profit in the Bay Area, Community Services Agency, has organized a monthly fundraiser in collaboration with local restaurants. “Chefs Who Care” dine-out has been a popular fundraiser that rotates among the participating local restaurants where they donate 50% of their proceeds for dinner on a particular date each month. Each month over 150 people come out for this event and they have raised $22,000.00 last year.
Although this is an example of an idea generated by a non-profit and involving local businesses, there is no reason that a group of restaurants owners or any small business could not initiate a collaborative fundraiser for a local cause. It just requires some inspiration and leadership.
For more information and inspiration check out this program at: www.csacares.org

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Should Your Business Have a Philanthropy Program?

Have you thought that maybe you would like your business to give back to the community, but are not sure whether it would be worth it and you could do it well? Before you begin to invest your time energy and money, you need to answer some key questions.

Do you know which cause or organization would be most meaningful for you to support?
Do you know how to judge the credibility of the organizations that you would like to support?
Do you know how much you are able to contribute in time or money or other resources?
Do you know how to engage your employees in your business philanthropy program?
If you do not have the funds to contribute, can you help raise money in other ways such as through your customers or the general public?
Do you have a way of communicating your support of a charity that will get publicity for the cause and for your business?

Answering these questions is helpful before you engage your business in any philanthropic endeavors. Knowing what is important to you, understanding your key objectives, what your resources are, and how to engage others, is essential to establishing a plan for your business philanthropy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why Business That Cares

There is a movement afoot. More and more people and organizations are concerned with helping the world around them, either locally or globally. While the economy is weakening and businesses are trying to find ways of surviving, contributions for worthy causes are decreasing and social needs are rising. It is increasingly more important for businesses to come up with innovative ways to utilize their resources for philanthropy.

Welcome to "Business That Cares" where we will be featuring stories about businesses of all sizes that care about their community both locally and globally and the ways they are making a difference.Our hope will be that this inspires other businesses to develop creative and inventive ways to help the world around them. I also will be sharing tips, strategies, and methods for identifying the causes and charities that a business would like to support, how to engage others to contribute to the cause, and how to be creative with the ideas and execution.

I welcome businesses to post their stories about the innovative ideas they are using for solving problems in the world and to participate in a dialog with others about this very important subject.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Girl Scout Cookies For Others

Today was the last day of the Girl Scout Cookie sale. The troop that was set up in front of the grocery store was featuring their Gifts of Caring Community Service Project, where customers buy cookies to be donated to one of three charities: a local food bank, the military, or the Red Cross. Since I love their cookies but hate to have them around, I was happy to be able to donate the cookies to someone who would appreciate them. The Girl Scout cookie sales has got be one of the earliest social ventures around.

Help Grow Your Soup

I just read about how Campbell's Soup supports the FFA, The Future Farmers Association, in their mission to educate new farmers and growers in sustainable farming practices. Everytime you click on the little red barn on the site: www.helpgrowyoursoup.com/ffa Campbells will donate $1.00 on your behalf to the FFA.

I'm not sure how it happened, but when clicked on the site I donated a package of tomato seeds. You can also order a free package of tomato seeds for yourself and Campbells will match it with a donation of seeds to a FFA chapter. There is also a whole page on this site with instructions for how to grow tomatoes. What a way to really help grow your own tomato soup.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Volunteer Vacations

Cheap Tickets has teemed up with United Way to do good for the communities that a traveler will be visiting by volunteering a portion or all of their vacation time to help out those in need.
Cheap Tickets has also provided an online link where donations to United Way can be made directly and where volunteer opportunities can be accessed. A volunteer travel blog and a search tool for volunteer opportunities and events are posted on their site. They also offer a Volunteer Savings Program, where groups traveling for a volunteer vacation can get discounts.

United Way's website, has posted that CheapTickets will donate a minimum of $6 to United Way of America for each trip booked using their link.

My only complaint is that I could not find the link to this program on the Cheap Tickets main site. I had to type, "volunteer vacations" in the search field box to get all of this information. or click on volunteer vacations on the travel blog for a year old post about spring break volunteer vacations.


Looking for a Cause?

Sometimes businesses would like to do social service or philanthropy but just don't understand enough about it, don't know what they would like to do and where to begin. Many businesses prefer to support local causes that give back directly to their community. Other businesses, even small ones have interest in supporting organizations that address more global problems such as hunger, education, poverty, the environment, world peace.

There are plenty of resources that can help any business identify a non-profit they would like to support or a cause they would like to help.

Local community foundations are a good place to start to look at what kind of problems need to be addressed within the immediate community. United Way, a national organization that has local branches all over the country, is comprised of a network of community organizations that serves broader and more general causes such as education, aging, hunger. Non-profits are often members of their local Chamber of Commerce, and the local Chamber may have specific causes that it supports. All of these organzations can provide infomation about opportunities for supporting local causes either through philanthropy or volunteering.

There are also great online resources that have lots of information about different causes, organizations and opportunities for philathropy.

Change.org, is an online social action networking site, that posts information about a variety of causes in the world, and where connections with other people involved with these causes can be made. http://www.change.org/

GuideStar provides financial reports and information about charities and non-profits. http://www.guidestar.org/

Charity Navigatoralso information on the financial health of nonprofits. http://www.charitynavigator.org/.

Idealist.org is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward helping build a better world.

Great Nonprofits allows non-profits to create a profile, publishes reviews from donors, volunteers and other stakeholders about non-profits, so that anyone who wants to donate or volunteer can for a non-profit can check it out first. http://www.greatnon-profits.org/

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Food for More Curves

Curves is a nationwide fitness chain for women. My local one right off of the main street in my town is offering a reduction in price, by waving the service fee when a new member signs up and brings a bag of non-perishable food items for the local food bank. This offer is good until March 31st.

As far as I can tell this is a philanthropic initiative for only this local branch.

Another example of how local businesses, even if they are part of a national chain, can contribute to benefit local community causes

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Involving Your Customers in Your Philanthropy

Businesses have the advantage of an instant customer network and employee base that can increase the size of the donation to charity.
Why not sit down and start brainstorming creative ideas for ways to raise money for a charity through your customer base? If you have employees, sit down together at a break and just start throwing ideas around. You will be amazed at the clever ideas that people will come up and will not cost you a lot of time and effort.
Here are some common and not so common ways that you can engage you customers and clients and employees to support your favorite causes.

1. Sponsor a matching fund for a cause through your business. Studies have shown that donations increase from individuals when they know they are being matched by a business. There is the psychology of feeling part of something when an individual dollar is doubled. Interestingly, donations do not increase if the the matching donations are more than doubled.

2.Hold a raffle and donate all the proceeds to a charity

3. Sponsor an event that is fun, like a wine tasting, or fashion show, casino night or art show and ask for donations, or have people buy tickets to the event.

4. Hold a contest that people have to pay to enter and donate proceeds to a charity. (remember the old jelly beans in the jar contest, and they get the jelly beans?)

5. Give out something for free if people sign up to volunteer or donate. This works great for food drives.

6. Organize a customer volunteer day for a local charity. People love to feel part of a group.

7. Have customers sponsor you in a charity run or walk. Better yet, have your business sponsor someone to run or walk in a fundraising event.

8. The familiar method of collecting spare change for a charity at the cash register still works great.

Don't Go Looking or Shopping Online Without It

With GoodSearch there is a way to raise money for a favorite charity through a search engine and by shopping online through GoodShop.

Thanks to GoodSearch for permission to use the description of their service.
"Here's a new easy way to raise money for your favorite cause. Just start using Yahoo! powered GoodSearch.com as your search engine and they'll donate a penny to your favorite cause every time you do a search!
In addition, do all of your shopping through their online shopping mall, GoodShop.com, where you can shop at more than 900 top online retailers and a percentage of your purchases will go to the charity or school of your choice. You pay the same price as you normally would, but a donation goes to your cause!
Here's the web site — http://www.goodsearch.com/. You can also read about GoodSearch in the NY Times, Oprah Magazine, CNN, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Click and Save the World

Microsoft through Hotmail

Once you sign up for their "i'm intitiative"on hotmail, each of your e-mails make a contribution to your chosen charity and every one of your e-mails has an invitation to the receiver to sign up.

Goodsearch and Good Shop
Here's a new easy way to raise money for your favorite cause. Just start using Yahoo! powered GoodSearch.com as your search engine and they'll donate a penny to your favorite cause every time you do a search!
In addition, do all of your shopping through their online shopping mall, GoodShop.com, where you can shop at more than 900 top online retailers and a percentage of your purchases will go to the charity or school of your choice. You pay the same price as you normally would, but a donation goes to your cause!
Here's the web site — http://www.goodsearch.com/. You can also read about GoodSearch in the NY Times, Oprah Magazine, CNN, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal.

SearchKindly, is a search application set on your home page, that is powered by Google. Any time you search using Search Kindly all of their ad revenues are donated to a charity. They choose five organizations each month, that contributors can vote on to fund.

Trip Advisor had sponsored a competition, of sorts, last fall. Members, I was one since I had posted a review of a hotel once, could vote for one of the five charities where their Trip Adviser would donate $1,000.000. I encouraged my friends to become members, since it is very easy and vote for their facorite charity. This was a very generous donation on their part and I wish they had kept something about it on their website. Currently they have no "click to save" programs.

Iphone More a "touch" than a click . Iphone has apps where $1.99 can be donated to certain non-profits. Check out for a very good write up about this on www.havefundogood.blogspot.com.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whole Foods Innovative Ideas for (not food) Philanthropy

Whole Foods is having a campaign for their Whole Planet Foundation until March 31st to raise $1,000,000.00 towards their micro credit program for poor communities around the world.

They have taken in-store fund raising to a new level. In addition to having the box on the counter for spare change, a customer can also choose $1.00 or $5.00 amounts to be added to their bill, and if they bring their own bag, the $1.00 credit can be applied towards a donation to the Whole Planet Foundation. They underwrite the administrative costs so that every amount donated goes towards helping others.

Whole Planet Foundation also collaborates with businesses, groups and individuals, like Grameen Bank and other micro finance organizations. They develop strategic partnerships and alliances with their suppliers and growers that participate in scanback programs. They contribute not only to the global community, but locally as well, by supporting their local growers with funding, contributing to local food banks, and sponsoring a "5% day" every month where they donate the proceeds to a local community charity. They encourage and enable individual employees and teams to develop in-store fundraising programs for local causes.

Whole Foods doesn't stop with one idea.The way they network, build alliances and leverage every dollar raised, is a model for the innovative thinking that businesses need to develop in order to get more value for their philanthropic dollar and effort.

Their website for Whole Planet Foundation has a lot of information and stories about their goals, their partnerships, their suppliers, their employees, and they spotlight the micro entrepreneurs that they have been helping. Check out their website for wonderful information about their projects. http://www.wholeplanetfoundation.org/.

I would love more information to be provided throughout the store about the projects and the partners of the Whole Planet Foundation. This isn't about just tooting their horn, but as a customer I want to become more educated about what they do. I would love to see videos on screens around the store about the projects they fund, a slide show featuring the micro entrepreneurs, printed materials about how they operate, more books for sale on micro financing in their book selection, little tags on the product displays that show which supplier and vendor participates in the scanback.

The best fundraising efforts are through education and I, for one, would love to learn more while I am walking around my local Whole Foods store.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Vacations That Have Social Impact

Find out how to get involved in microfinancing in some of the neediest places in the world through Social Impact Adventures.
This is a new spin on the learning and helping vacation travel industry, where you get to go a place like Nicaragua, learn about how microfinancing works, meet with the experts in the field of micofinance, and get to know some of the local entrepreneurs that have been helped. You will have classroom courses like: Investing in microfinance and Microfinance 101, take trips to local markets and opportunities to learn with fellow travelers through discussion groups. You also get a few days at a beautiful beach resort. A portion of all the proceeds go towards support of the local microfinance projects.

Here is the message that SIA has formatted for anyone to send on to their friends.

Dear [fname]:
I wanted to share with you the news that a colleague and I have recently launched Social Impact Adventures, a microfinance travel group. SIA specializes in leading unbiased, exciting trips that allow participants to experience first-hand the impact of microcredit on people's lives.
Our inaugural trip to Nicaragua is June 20 to 27, 2009. We have put together an amazing itinerary, drawing on our experience in microfinance, our local knowledge and connections and our passion for travel. Participants will:
Engage with local microfinance experts
Visit the homes and businesses of micro-entrepreneurs, and
Explore the natural and cultural wonders of Nicaragua.
This promise to be an unforgettable trip! We hope you will join us and share the information with others who you think might be interested. To find out more, visit http://www.socialimpactadventures.com/ or contact us directly.

Christina & Jeremy

Christina Jennings, Co-Founder
Jeremy Turpen, Co-Founder

P.S. You can help us spread the word by telling your friends. Forward-to-a-Friend

Search for Good

Now every time you search you can donate to a charity. SEARCH KINDLY is a non-profit that has created a search engine that you can set on your home page, that is powered by Google. Any time you search using Search Kindly all of their ad revenue is donated to a charity. The charities are listed on Search Kindly's website and voted on by visitors.

In addition-and this was a real surprise to me- every time you click on any of Search Kindly's pages, the revenues from their advertising goes to charity. (which means by just doing research for this post I contributed something to this month's charity pick.)

You can offer Search Kindly from you website or blogsite, (sorry I was unable to get that to work). But, nevertheless you can all the information you need by going to:


Monday, March 2, 2009

A Bank That Needs No Bailout

An entrepreneur in Estonia, has come up with a a way for people to exchange a different kind of currency of sorts. This may not be exactly a business, but people in Estonia will have an opportunity to come up with creative ideas to help each other in these difficult economic times. People all across the country will be participating in a forum, brainstorming ideas, and selecting best practice ideas to implement.
Perhaps businesses that want to come up with creative ideas for doing good, could use this format of forums and brainstorming to come up with creative ideas also. Wonderful things can happen when people come together to share ideas and collaborate.

Here is the press story about what they are doing in Estonia.

Agence France-Presse - 2/28/2009 8:16 PM GMT
"Estonians plan virtual 'happiness bank' to fight recession
In times of economic woe, Estonians are banking on ideas to lift their spirits above the gloom and doom of recession with an online "happiness bank" and forums on better governance.
"The main aim of the project... is to use modern technology to create a 'democracy machine' that will help increase understanding among people, bring the state closer to citizens and force people to become actively involved in improving their lives instead of passively hoping that someone else will do it," Estonian Internet entrepreneur Rainer Nolvak, one of the main organizers of the project, told AFP.
In the virtual "happiness bank", people will be able to earn virtual money on their accounts by doing good deeds for those in need. Organisers hope it will give people the idea that doing good is as valuable as earning money.
"We think that especially when the entire world is facing recession we need a lot of thinking also at the grass-roots level to figure what we all can do to fight recession and make life better," Nolvak added.
Organisers hope that as many as 100,000 Estonians in the tiny 1.3-million-strong Baltic EU state will attend 400-1000 public 'brain-storming' forums across Estonia on better governance that will also be streamed live via the net on May 1.
Registration for the project is currently underway.
"The topics of the forums will tackle the most important problems at both local and national level. All forum group heads must select the topics from our website www.minueesti.ee (my Estonia) by April 20, 2009," Anneli Ohvril, head of the Communications Team for the "Let's do it - let's think" project, told AFP.
"The forum participants will select best practice ideas that they will then start to implement," Ohvril says.
Organisers expect to get at least one thousand ideas for best practices that can be applied in everyday life. Later in December, people will be asked to vote on all the local and national best ideas to select the ones they like most."

For the full story see: news.sg.msn.com/oddities/article.aspx?cp-documentid=2659875

Spare Change for Charity

Two weeks ago Jerry Lewis accepted the humanitarian award at the Oscars for his many years of supporting and raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I remember as a child seeing the cans on the counter at my local grocery store, with pictures of "Jerry's kids" on the label and the little slot you would slip your spare coins into.

I doubt Lewis was the first one who came up with what I call "the can on the counter" fundraising idea, since collecting spare change in some way has probably been around since money was invented. But this method really works. Retail businesses, especially, still use it an effective way to raise money from their customers for the charities that they support.

Just in my town I have seen several efforts of this nature. Yesterday, I was at a Safeway Supermarket where there was a plastic container to collect money for the Safeway Foundation. Safeway Foundation supports such causes as Muscular Dystrophy, Breast and Prostate cancer and hunger initiatives. My local hairdresser has a can for a local athletics group. Sometimes the business has chosen to support a specific charity for their own reasons. Other times, charities have approached the store and asked to merely put the can out on the counter.

This method costs the business nothing in time or labor, yet brings in a good amount for the charity, raises awareness for the cause, and brings good will towards the business.