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


Janice Parsons said...

Dear Lalia,
I recently had an "ah ha" moment with an online retailer who is HUGE in philanthropy in California. I won't name names, but this was one of the first and is still one of the biggest.
I purchased some products and had to exchange one for a different size. I was told I would have to pay for return shipping, I couldn't get the discounted price for buying 2 items, because i was returning one and really placing a new order, not reordering. the nightmare just went on and on. I gave up!
The light bulb went on when I went back to their site to write someone to let them know how crazy the policy was. I was stunned at how they totally touted all they do for the world. It truly is impressive. They really set the bar for philanthropy. BUT,in the context of my awful customer experience, it just seemed so ingenuous. If the company does not beleive its own customer is the true donor, then who really is the community they are serving?
Every employee must treat every customer like they are the biggest donor the foundation has. And every employee must be treated by the CEO and Board of Directors like they are the biggest donor the foundation has. Until corporations get this style dynamic to social change, I'm afraid it's window dressing. Because as customers, we really now feel like we are now donors. We have total choice about what we buy and from whom. And that experience dictates the future health of corporate philanthropy.
thanks so much for your blog,
janice parsons

Lalia Helmer said...

Hi Janice,
Thanks for your comment. I am totally with you on this. Charity should start at home and companies that take care about their customers may well be the most socially responsible of all.
I was recently at a local business group meeting about developing a joint philanthropy program. One of the participants was a business that I also had a nightmare encounter with. I just couldn't understand it.
As for "big" companies, their philanthropy is sometimes a huge department or a foundation on its own. Probably they have never tried to have the values of the company and their philanthropy aligned.
Thanks for reading the blog. I am hoping that not only businnesses will respond to this idea, but consumers also.