Sunday, August 30, 2009

Unjunk Mail

"In an unusual but completely sensible move, Dukky is both a direct mail company and the company behind Unjunk Mail, a service that lets you both opt out and in of what mailings you’d like to receive from Dukky. After all, whether we admit it or not, there are a few things we’d actually like to get in the mail. Or in Dukky’s case, email or SMS are also an option. Then, after having done extensive research to find the best combination of free, easy, and effective, Unjunk Mail gives you the direct link to three services that cover removing the spectrum of potential direct mail offerings."

I love this idea of choosing whether I want to receive a catalog or not. I receive literally hundreds of pieces of junk mail a week. But yes, in some ways there can be a positive environmental impact with junk mail, as I am tending to do more and more shopping at home and driving less to the stores at the mall. It is of great advantage for me to receive the catalogs I want.
I think more importantly though, it's time for businesses to get involved in assessing their impact on the environment by asking the consumer whether they want to stay or be removed from the mailing list. I think only one company has ever done that with me.
Is Dukky working with companies directly on this?
All in all this is a great idea and thanks for spreading the word about it.

Comment posted on Can Junk Mail Ever Be Considered Sustainable? Possibly | Triple Pundit at using Reframe It

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Not To Be Missed Unconference Day at SOCAP09

"Three full days of rich content. Over 100 speakers. A special unconference day. In its second year, the Social Capital Markets conference brings together the broad ecosystem of funds, foundation and individual investors and donors, and for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs using business to make a positive difference. If you're an investor or donor, entrepreneur or executive, your task is simple: be at SOCAP09."

About a month ago I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Jones of GoodCapital and the organizer of SOCAP 2009. One of the subjects we touched upon was the third day, the “unconference” day of SOCAP09. This topic interests me a lot as I see people coming together to just talk in many number formats as an incredibly powerful tool for supporting each other, building on ideas and creating new initiatives. Many people night choose to leave after the second day, thinking- what the heck is an “unconference” day and is it worthwhile to hang around? Whatever you do -don’t miss it!

There are, for sure, fabulous speakers and attendees coming to this year’s SOCAP09. But the opportunity to dialogue on the topics of mutual interest and co-create new ideas, should not to be missed. Here’s why, in Kevin’s words.

LH: Tell me a little bit about your organizing the SOCAP09 conference in Sept. I am particularly interested in that third day is an open space type format, because I use a facilitation tool, Appreciative Inquiry, that uses Open Space within its format. How are you structuring that?

KJ: Well we did it last year in that traditional sort of Open Space Technology format, where somebody says : “I want to talk about this” and we will see if people are interested and they vote with their feet. Oddly enough we had fifty grids and there were fifty topics. I have never seen it where it was a perfect open grid format.

And most people stayed for the third day and the ones who stayed almost uniformly said it was their favorite day. But on the first day people were afraid of it because they hadn’t been to something so unstructured. These are people from maybe financial services or international aid agencies, investment banks, social venture funds and all of them are used to something structured; it’s structured capital, it’s institutional. So that the idea of a free play day, based on the quality of the people we had convened was scary to some of them. But they became converts because they saw the density of the content, so the whole breath of the market was there and that the convening was right. We had brought together the right people and they trusted these people like Sub-Saharan African funds working on water or aid agencies doing some innovative things. They trusted the convening they trusted the content and the context and then they were able to do it their own way. That was neat.

We kept on trying to put a grid on it. It was hard not to put some form on it. But we decided to keep it like this.

So, we had people working on particular sector together like Sub-Saharan water in Africa or we had people working in a particular region, the South Americans or whatever and the groups were organized around these. Although we designed the event really well, you still never catch all of the interest and so groups formed, maybe there were five people around a topic like equitable sustainable energy in West Africa. And for those five people it was really valuable to come together.

LH. I really applaud that. I get frustrated when I go to a conference; you get inspired, you walk out and okay, then what?

KJ. That’s why we built the Hub too. SOCAP09 is once a year. The Hub is for every day. All these social entrepreneurs want to help each other, because they all need help.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Business Philanthropy Has Some Fun

Combining social media, business and philanthropy helped one needy and Detroit area family find housing and get back on their feet.

Last May the Live to Give Foundation was chosen as the recipient of the first Detroit Charity Tweetup. The Detroit firm, Identity Marketing and Public Relations rallied 6 corporate sponsorships and more than 100 Detroit Twitter users that attended a Tweetup at Bar Louie of Novie, which helped raise over $1,500 for the Shuck family of Rochester Hills. These sponsors each donated $1 for every person that showed up and that support made the event successful:

Not to minimize the pain and difficulties that so many people in the world experience, but there are ways to have some fun and do some good for the world- and businesses in the Detroit area chose to do just that.

In his message to me, Ryan Doyle the Founder and Director of the Live to Give Foundation wrote:"Philanthropy is so important for businesses to take part in".

Live to Give Foundation is made up of a team of 8 college graduates of which 7/8 are all under 23 years old. This that they has are very proud of and people really enjoy to hear. "We are young minds with big hearts trying to inspire our generation into action."

Right on Ryan!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Charitable Face of Business

Author: Rajat Kapoor

Businessmen are tough. They are selfish and strong hearted. They only think of their profit. They can do anything to be successful and achieve success. Well, many of us think so and many of us know there are exceptions, quite a lot. Abhishek Kapoor is one such exception. Abhishek Kapoor is a businessman, a successful one. He has come up through the difficult times to achieve success in his business and still he owes it all to the society. He says that he has learned the tricks of business by studying, following and copying some great business success stories. So whatever success he has got is because of the society which gave him all the learning. Abhishek doesn't stop there though. After being successful himself, he wants to return back to the society what he has achieved from it and so he wrote a book called Super Biz Buzz which describes all his learning in terms of stories. These stories talk about some great marketing strategies some of the really successful businesses used to achieve success themselves. Not only he wants to help the people through his excellent book, the money he earns by selling this book, he donates 80% of it to various charities. He has not kept any affiliate program and instead of giving money to affiliates, he saves it to give to charity. Though, he is giving affiliate membership to only 50 people so as to promote his book. He feels that due to recession people have stopped donating. People want their every penny to be saved and they want to limit the expenditures to the "useful" things only. And charity is not one of them. So he has taken a step, so that people can invest in so called "useful" thing and still money keeps flowing to charities. This is just a step though. Abhishek has taken an initiative, you need to follow him. On his sales page, he has requested his customers that if they don't want to spend money on his book, they should give it to charity.He has given the link of CRY foundation on his sales page. Through his book, he also wants to help the people who have faced the wrath of recession, by making them realize that success can be achieved at any point in life, you just need to be courageous and should have the ability to take some bold decisions. It is difficult to find a social worker in the face of a businessman and Abhishek Kapoor is one such person. Lets support Abhishek's campaign...

Article Source:

About the Author:
Rajat Kapoor is an expert Internet Marketer and Businessman. He is also an active blogger and writer. He is actively involved in various Internet Marketing activities and promotions.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Replyforall, How to Make Your E-mail Messages Matter

How easy is it for everyone to contribute to a cause and create an impact to the world? It turns out you can do charity by just e-mailing.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Enmi Kendall the founder of Replyforall. Enmi is an amazing example of a new generation of young adult who’s more concerned about creating an impact on the world through meaningful action than earning money in a status profession. By capitalizing on her experience in social media industries, Enmi started a business that combines elements of technology, advertising, and fundraising into a viable new fusion of business and charity.

Replyforall, is an online service, that helps social media and internet users to support their favorite causes and promote common good in an easy and practical way. The name Replyforall is wordplay on the everyday occurrence of “reply to all “action while e-mailing. Replyforall is a simple, practical, and sustainable way to support causes by using email and outgoing Facebook messages with the Replyforall email signatures. By inserting the signature in their e-mails, users can include good cause messages and advertisements from the sponsors of those causes. The more emails that are sent and the more new supporters that are recruited, the more funds are driven to the cause in an exponential way. Every e-mail that is sent and every new member that is enlisted via the e-mail message generates and drives a portion of advertising revenue towards a cause. Thus, Replyforall’s innovation is in leveraging something that almost everyone does and turning it into something that can create social change.

The Relpyforall’s link is automatically embedded in the sent e-mail with colorful and attractive badges. Both receiver and sender instantly know which charity is supported, which company is sponsoring the charity and the direct impact of that e-mail on the chosen cause. The receiver also receives an invitation where they can instantly sign on to participate.

Replyforall rigorously measures and reports the impact of all of their supporters’ activity. Already in less than 11months 11,467 people have been provided a day of HIV testing and AIDS education, and clean water for year has been provided to 3,077 people. These are just two of the causes that Replyforall has impacted since its inception. The users also increase the donations via the “recruitment” of the recipients of their emails. Thus the users participate in the value that is created exponentially for the causes that matter to them.

Enmi also displays all the necessary qualities of an entrepreneur; that of having a vision, persistence, grit and the willingness to do hard work. Because she has funded this enterprise with her own means, she also displayed the self sacrificing characteristic of “learning to do more with less” My absolute favorite quote from my interview was a very personal one. She said: “I am a runner. The best advice I would give to anyone doing a venture of this sort, is to consider this a marathon, not a sprint."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Makes a Social Entrepreneur?

Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green, presented her list of qualities and characteristics of social entrepreneurs at the most recent 99% Behance Conference. She described these characteristics as Social Entrepreneur Intelligence-SEQ, a behavioral model that profiles the positive attributes of this truly special group of people. Echoing Green considers investing and supporting a social venture, using the following characteristics of the entrepreneurs as a measure of the potential of the project:

Ability to execute with alacrity
Solutions oriented, not just generating ideas
Assets based thinking- every problem is an opportunity
Obligation to a cause
Resource magnets

I have been working with entrepreneurs for many years in my coaching and consulting practice and have done personality and career tests that assess their strengths and weaknesses, social and emotional intelligence, and leadership abilities. These assessments are based on well researched theories and models of organizational behavior. The profile of a social entrepreneur is not all that different from many of the entrepreneurs I have worked it. Yet there is something more .

I liked Cheryl Dorsey's list of traits of social entrepreneur intelligence and I would add a few more traits that entrepreneurs in general display such as: grit, passion, optimism, outside of the box thinking, energy, visionary. Social entrepreneurs seem to have an uber dose of these characteristics because of the additional challenge of creating a profitable mission driven venture.

In the last two weeks I have had the privilege of interviewing three social entrepreneurs, Enmi Kendall of Replyforall, Kevin Jones of Good Capital and Xavier Helgeson of Better World Books. Each of them spoke about the strengths that they brought to the project. One needs to not look much further than these examples to find some essential qualities for a social entrepreneur to have.

Humility coming from an appreciation of the good fortune in their life
Social causes as recurring themes throughout their life and work
Willingness to self sacrifice for a cause
Understanding the importance of listening and learning
Absence of need to attain personal fortune
Ability to sustain a high degree of uncertainty
Determination to challenge the status-quo of business as usual-that the sole purpose of business is to make a profit

Enmi hopes that the distinctions between entrepreneur and social entrepreneur will disappear as all business will take on the mission to create a better world.

If you have a passion to create a social venture, does it matter if you have these traits? Can you develop them if you don't have them? All entrepreneurs are a special breed. Either they are driven to do their own business, or not. In the end, you are an entrepreneur or a social entrepreneur, if you think you are.

I look forward to posting to my interviews with these three exceptional social entrepreneurs and the stories of their social ventures. (see July post on Better World Books)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little Love for Charity- WeClick Speed Dating

Mingling with mochas in hand, a new crowd of morally conscious singles took over The Works CafĂ© in Portland last month as the curiously named “Get Social, Give Goats” event got under way. What could goats, coffee, and eligible bachelors possibly have in common? A lot more than you think, according to Josh and April LaFrance.
This happily married couple found themselves time and time again at a loss when their single friends came to them for advice on where to find a date. After failed attempts at playing matchmaker and numerous tales of unpleasant blind date encounters, April decided to take matters into her own hands. Looking at the growing philanthropic trend in many new companies like TOMS Shoes, she didn’t see why the same ideas couldn’t be applied to dating services. And from there, the concept of “ethical speed-dating” was born.
The idea is simple; pick a venue for singles to meet in a speed-dating environment with the proceeds going to charity. Each event is posted on their website,, with the particular charity listed and a guest list to reserve a spot. Unlike other dating services, the philanthropic aspect to WeClick Dating lessens the skepticism around speed-dating. April believes that with the decrease in stigma associated with planned dating, tying in fundraising will make it all the more appealing. If nothing else, singles can feel good about helping a worthy cause while trying to find love- although WeClick does have a customer guarantee that if you don’t find someone that night, the next event is on them.
Each event is set up in typical speed-dating form. The women sit at different tables while the men cycle through, spending five minutes with each person. At the end of the night, each single fills out a WeClick card saying which individuals they would like to get to know more. WeClick collects the cards and sends mutual matches contact information so that people can arrange a next date. There is a $30 registration fee for each event with 10% going to charity. Organizations like Heifer International, for which the “Get Social, Give Goats” event was aptly named, are chosen for each event to raise both awareness and money. WeClick is based in Portland, Oregon where Josh and April live now, but similar ideas have been catching on in both Nashville and Pittsburg. The LaFrances hope to bring the business down the coast when they move to Redding, California later this year.
Although the company is not highly profitable yet, the LaFrances have high hopes for the future. The main purpose, however, is not on the money but the message that anyone can create positive change.

by Lauren Partain

Friday, August 7, 2009

Philanthropy is Hot Trend Among Tech Entrepreneurs

This is an excellent article written by Jeff Fox about the tech billionaires turned philanthropists. Although it is about some very wealthy individuals, I found the last paragraph's message which cites Mouli Cohen's comments that "philanthropy is not solely the purview of the rich", particularly relevant to all entrepreneurs. I would add to that, business philanthropy is not solely the purview of the big corporations.
I have posted it by permission from Article Base.

Author: Jeff Fox

When Bill Gates recently announced that billionaires should give away the bulk of their fortunes, it made headlines around the world. While the Microsoft founder is among the world's wealthiest individuals and perhaps the leading philanthropist of his time, he is just one of many entrepreneurs who have amassed great fortunes in the technology sector and are using their wealth and influence to bring about positive change. Last year the Wall Street Journal (“Melinda Gates Defines a Charity's Mission,” June 5, 2008) reported on the “growing class of people who are applying fortunes made in tech and on the Internet to trying to solve some of the world's most stubborn problems,” including Jeff Skoll and Pierre Omidyar from eBay and Google founders Larry Page and Serge Brin. According to the article, “These new philanthropists — as you might expect — are trying to apply the same nitty-gritty analysis that many may have used to manage their businesses to difficult-to-measure social problems.”

“Philanthropy and technology can create enormous synergy, and the leaders of the tech community see a tremendous opportunity to change the world for the better,” said Mouli Cohen, entrepreneur , who founded eCast, a company that revolutionized the distribution of digital music to out of home venues worldwide and later started Voltage Capital, a private equity focused innovation fund.

Cohen's start-ups have generated more than $3 billion in shareholder value, but the value he has created through his contributions in the philanthropic arena are perhaps his greatest source of pride. Cohen currently focuses his efforts on the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and blindness through grants to national and international organizations including Camp Okizu and the Childhood Vision Campaign. “I am personally committed to reducing the incidence of childhood blindness in third world countries and expanding the number and reach of cancer detection and treatment programs for children.”

Cohen is among the new breed of tech philanthropists whose involvement extends far beyond their checkbooks. According to Private Wealth Magazine, the confluence of wealth and technology is redefining philanthropy and ushering in an age of innovation and social change:

The entrepreneurs of the '80s and '90s have become the philanthropists of the new millennium, leveraging their time, energy and capital toward the social good. Today's donors are younger, more energetic and more adept at leveraging technology, investing their capital and driving results. Frequently referred to as “venture philanthropists” or “social entrepreneurs,” they are accustomed to achieving success and not used to backing down in the face of resistance. Comfortable with their achievements and confident in their abilities, they are transitioning their passion and talent for creating wealth to its logical corollary: the distribution of wealth—“giving back,” as some would say—with the very same intensity and sense of direction as was required to create their wealth.

Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's most generous philanthropic organization, has called upon his fellow billionaires to spread their wealth to the poorest nations and make a difference in fighting disease, improving access to education and championing other causes. In announcing his departure from his day-to-day duties as chairman of Microsoft to focus his energies on the Foundation, Gates told reporters, "With success, I have been given great wealth. And with great wealth comes great responsibility to give back to society, to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those in need."

Gates' message is clearly resonating with the billionaire set. Warren Buffett has pledged to leave the bulk of his fortune to the Gates Foundation, representing perhaps the largest charitable gift in history – estimated at$31 billion.

Although the wealthy certainly have more to give, Cohen argues that philanthropy is not solely the purview of the mega-rich. “There are opportunities for anyone with a passion for a particular cause to add value, not just in terms of monetary contributions. Organizations need tactical philanthropists' to volunteer their time and provide intellectual and social capital to make sure the money creates the greatest possible impact.”

Article Source:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Open Money: The Cycle Of Business and Communty Benefit

In a recent post of mine: Give a Little, Get a Lot Back: Why Giving Is Good For Business and Is Patriotic, I described the many benefits businesses will receive from giving back to their community. In the article: "There are thousands of businesses within thousands of communities across this country that can help support their local communities by giving back. By making them aware that not only is it patriotic, but good business, this can can really change the picture for non-profits."

Allen Rosenblith, a documentary film maker, has made a series of videos with Michael Linton explaining his open money system. This system is based on the idea of a community creating its own currency that originates with business giving to community programs and flowing back through the community to the business.

For me the best part of his system is the diagram that Linton has created which conveys the principle of "give and get back" so well.

You can see Part I here on Vimeo and also link to the full set of videos:

Open Money: Community Way part 1 from Alan Rosenblith on Vimeo.

Allen has also produced a documentary: "The Money Fix" which explores different aspects of money creation. The documentary opened at the Big Sky film festival and has been screened recently in cities in the west. A copy of the film can be bought