Friday, January 29, 2010

From Cell Phones to Shoes:How to Use Your Business To Help Haiti Victims

Every where around there are businesses and organizations pitching in with disaster relief efforts for Haiti. While booking a flight to Europe, I received a message from United Airlines about their matching donations up to a total of $50,00o to relief organizations. In thanks they are offering a one-time bonus of 500 miles to Mileage Plus members,who donate $50.00 or more.

T-Mobile is helping family and friends of Haiti's victims, by doing what they do best, providing cell phone service. Blair Kroeber, a contributor to this blog writes:
In the aftermath of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, T-Mobile has stepped in to spearhead an array of practical and timely relief efforts. As announced on its online forums last week, the upstart cell carrier has donated wireless equipment, such as power generators and cell towers, for rebuilding the wireless infrastructure of their sister networks on the island, Voila and Digicel. More impressively, though, in the immediate fallout of the quake, T-Mobile announced they would temporarily waive international long-distance charges for all customers calling into and out of the devastated island-nation, allowing Haitians in America and elsewhere.

T-Mobile also plans to waive roaming charges within Haiti for earthquake victims and relief workers traveling the country. Both perks apply retroactively, beginning January 12, the day of the earthquake, and extending through the end of this month. Says Robert Dottson, T-Mobile USA President and CEO, "Our company and our employees care deeply for our customers, and we know that many customers have been directly impacted by the disaster in Haiti." In light of this unspeakable emergency, T-Mobile is offering a basic and essential service as only they can: helping victims, friends and families around the world make a connection.
Small businesses are helping too.
Smaller businesses may feel that their contributions to these efforts are a mere pittance. But taking the example from larger businesses, they too can leverage their assets and help support the victims of this disaster. Just as an example there are small businesses in my area are d
oing just that: a health spa is offering a Pilates mat class for Haiti where all proceeds will be donated towards Haiti; a young local singer was selling her CD's at her coffee house performance this weekend, with portions of proceeds going towards a relief organization; a doctor in a medical a practice got everyone in the office and patients involved in a shoe collection for Sole4Soles, an organization that collects and delivers new and used shoes to the children and adults in Haiti; and a local shoe store is a drop off center for shoes that also go to Soles4Shoes. Small businesses all over the world are trying every way they can contribute.
Check out the heart warming
story:"Giving Heart and Soles for Haitian Children" on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Businesses all over this country and around the world have responded with the desire to help:

A business owner of the British clothing company "missfituk" describes it well in her message on an online business forum in England.
Use your business to help Haiti

Hi everyone,Im sure everyone here is as saddened and affected by news of the Haiti disaster as I am (if I didnt have a child to look after Id be on the first flight over to help) anyway I want to try and use whatever methods I can to help the people of Haiti and so for the next 14 days I am donating ALL profits from online sales to the Haiti appeal (thats at least 50% of each sale).

Is there anything you can do? Can you use your business to help? I would like to urge everyone to think about using your business for a positive cause and to help other people.


eTaxNet, LLC, a tax and business consulting service is donating one hundred percent of net profits generated by tax preparation services for the 2009 tax season to help fund the disaster recovery effort for Haiti. eTaxNet has joined with Life Giving Force to help with aid to orphaned children and the poor.

As was described on their website:“Whether you are an individual, a business, or a non profit, there are ways to get involved and help those in dire need in Haiti,"Explained Sung Cho, co-founder of Life Giving Force. “eTaxNet is a perfect example of company that stepped up to the plate and said we can make a difference.”

So many companies step up to the plate in so mnay different ways and set that example of making a difference. Following their example can make any business become a business that cares.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Hotels That Help" Harnesses the Wayfarer's Generosity

For most, even when traveling, finding a warm bed is as simple as pulling into the nearest Motel 6 or Holiday Inn. But many - particularly in this era of recession and unemployment - find themselves confronted with the anxious, lingering threat of homelessness.

Social entrepreneur Dave Levenson confronted this reality several years ago when he learned of a friend and former client who had lost his home and been forced to take refuge in a local shelter. Reflecting on the challenges of homelessness, Levenson created the Kohala Foundation, conceiving the organization as a philanthropic foundation geared toward partnering community businesses with underserved local nonprofits.

Setting out to “leverage his talent for leveraging,” Levenson quickly procured financing for Kohala’s flagship endeavor, Hotels That Help, a dynamic, low-cost program designed to bring together hoteliers, their staffs and visiting guests to raise funding for nearby charities.

Headed by Jim Abrams, former CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association and a leading expert on hospitality law, Hotels That Help kicked off with a modestly scoped 2007-2009 pilot program involving twenty Bay Area inns, hotels and motels.

Their model is simple, and all the more impactful because of it. As designated businesses join, they start by advertising their involvement around the premises of the hotel with key folders, hotel room tent cards, signs and placards advertising the Hotels That Help logo.

This simple array of promotion is tailored to initiate customer curiosity and inquiry. From there, hotel staff members answer questions, explain the venture and invite guests to add an optional $1 donation to their bill at checkout. Then each month, 100% of the total proceeds are contributed to a local charity chosen by the hotel’s management and staff.

Though Levenson originally envisioned the program as a means of fighting homelessness, its scope has widened to serve a variety of causes. The employees of Berkeley’s famed Hotel Durant, for instance, selected the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, a nearby shelter and soup kitchen, as their charity of choice. But the Petaluma Sheraton chose to devote their donations to the Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties, while the Hotel Adagio in San Francisco sponsors Art for Life, an arts program for critically ill children. By the nature of the program’s unique selection model, charities have come to run the gamut.

According to Hotels That Help President Jim Abrams, nearly 75% of guests at participating hotels volunteer to chip in. As a result of their generosity, the initial twenty Bay Area hotels raised $25,000 per month during the two-year pilot phase of the venture.

Now Hotels That Help is setting ambitious goals for 2010. In the first half of the year alone, they hope to enroll 1,000 new California hotels to participate in this inventive guest-giving system. By the end of the year, they expect to have brought in an anticipated $10 million of “net new monies” for community non-profits.

Armed with this ambitious vision, Abrams, Levenson and their team foresee a bright future for Hotels That Help, both in the Golden State and beyond. It’s a future in which the reach of charity extends as far the traveler roams.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blackbaud's Wide Reach

With the afterglow of Martin Luther King Day still bright, one of Dr. King’s trenchant aphorisms reverberates through the cultural air: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Like many of Dr. King’s enduring thoughts, this question rings with a note of urgency, a challenge to action and charitable service.

Of the many companies dedicated at the corporate level to such efforts, perhaps none puts such a premium on the service and philanthropy of its members as Blackbaud. The Charleston, South Carolina-based company, founded in 1981, bills itself as “the leading global provider of software and services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to improve operational efficiency, build strong relationships, and raise more money to support their missions.” And that’s more than just a mouthful of corporate self-promotion - Blackbaud is a major force in the nonprofit world.

A successful, publicly-traded corporation, Blackbaud employs nearly 2,000 service-minded employees across an array of offices in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. In addition to Charleston, the company’s US operations include Cambridge, Massachusetts, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis.

More impressively, Blackbaud’s client roster represents a who’s who of vital and thriving nonprofits, 22,000 in all, ranging from the American Red Cross to Lincoln Center and the Special Olympics, as well as a wide array of educational institutions like high schools, charter schools, and prestigious colleges such as Dartmouth.

Blackbaud’s services run a wide gamut, too. Though they specialize exclusively in nonprofits, the company offers an array of consulting services, particularly for the identification and acquisition of new donors, the creation of a strong web and social media presence, and the development of lasting organizational growth strategies for their client organizations.

But all that falls within their profit margin. What about the over-and-beyond, the extracurriculars? After all, what good is a corporation dedicated to assisting philanthropic organizations if they don’t engage in robust philanthropy themselves?

Here’s where Blackbaud truly distinguishes itself. First-rate volunteerism is woven into the very fabric of the company.

For starters, Blackbaud takes action on the local level. For the past ten-plus years, the Blackbaud Fund has teamed with the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina to distribute grants to organizations in the Lowcountry region of the state. With an eye toward helping disadvantaged youth, Blackbaud selects small grassroots nonprofits, and relies on the Coastal Community Foundation to manage the subsidies. Despite their efforts around the world, Blackbaud continues to reassert a foremost commitment to charities in its own backyard.

More significantly, Blackbaud multiplies its impact by empowering employees to make service a part of their own lives. The organization offers a popular Volunteer for Vacation program, in which employees earn extra vacation days each year by committing to a volunteer cause of their choice.

Plus, any employee who joins in either corporate philanthropic projects or their own private effort is considered a member of Team Blackbaud, the organization’s vast “corporate volunteer corp.”

Among its many initiatives, Team Blackbaud hosts an annual volunteer fair, in which charitable groups visit Blackbaud headquarters and recruit volunteers from the corporation’s ranks. To similar effect, Team Blackbaud maintains a massive web-based “job bank,” through which employees can research further volunteer opportunities.

Team Blackbaud is governed by a committee of rotating leaders culled from each of the corporation’s offices, collectively known as Team Blackbaud Global. Together this body coordinates events for their specific branches, as well as the corporation at large.

One such regional project, a Blackbaud Cambridge effort, is the Everybody Wins Power Lunch, in which Blackbaud employees visit local underprivileged schools during the lunch hour to serve nutritious meals while assisting students with their reading skills.

The Blackbaud site even features a wide array of blogs featuring various aspects of their services with one in particular, Service to Others, devoted entirely to their corporate philanthropy.

Over and beyoind the corporate structure, though, Blackbaud values and rewards the personal initiative of its employees, too. To that end, the company recently unveiled a program designed to identify charitable groups to potentially receive what are called Employee Volunteer Impact Grants. In essence, Blackbaud invites employees to nominate an organization with which they’ve recently volunteered; then each quarter, the leadership of Team Blackbaud Global selects an array of winners to receive cash grants honoring the Blackbaud employee’s service with that group.

According to the company’s website, recent winners have included a Charleston-based organization, Louie’s Kids, designed to fight childhood obesity. Another grant recipient, a Southern California group called School on Wheels, provides tutoring services, school supplies and one-on-one mentoring for homeless children.

For Blackbaud, the calling to help nonprofits hone their mission isn’t just a corporate one. It’s infused into the culture of the company, and extends down to every single member.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is Caring About Local Causes More Important?

One of the blogs I follow is Tom Bailey's "Personal Accountability Log". Tom's blog ties together topics about charity, philanthropy, personal responsibility and positivity. And this blog asks questions about these topics in a unique way that gives the readers the opportunity to really question and comment on the motivations behind philanthropy. Thanks to Tom Bailey for the always interesting and provocative blog posts.

I am a great believer in asking questions and more importantly asking the right questions as a way to make decisions and create new directions in organizations. On Oct. 20th, 2009, Tom's question was: "What do you think about localism in charity?" Coincidentally, I had just written a post on Oct. 18th, "Honors for Every Little Drop" where I honored small businesses that supported local community causes. The major points that I hoped to convey is that small businesses are closest to issues that are local which make them better able to assess the need, to have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the charities, and to have a greater impact on those causes.

The comments to Tom's question ranged from bashing celebrities who have adopted global causes ostensibly for self promotion, to comments about the importance of taking care of problems in our backyard, to comments that state it is really an individual choice.

And so it is really is an individual choice for a small business to decide whether to support local or global causes. But it is not always so obvious how to decide.

The best way to start to think about this decision is to take an example to take example from Tom Bailey and that is to ask questions: questions about what your business really cares about, what causes do the business employees care about, where can a business get involved in such a way that has the most impact, how can a business get involved in other ways than giving money?

The definition of "localism" from is: excessive devotion to and promotion of the interests of a particular locality. Tom's post implied the idea of giving locally, but that ain't necessarily so. Even though it is important to make rational decisions about the best way to give back, whatever causes your business chooses to support, whether they are in your backyard or half way around the world, if you are devoted to that cause and you promote it, it is localism.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Business Philanthropy Trends That Get More of a Bang

Reviewing my top picks of tweets and posts from this last year has provided me with an opportunity to observe the exciting themes and trends in business philanthropy that have emerged in 2009 . Paying attention to these trends and seeing how they can be incorporated into a giving plan can help small and medium sized businesses find ways to add value and increase the impact of their philanthropy in this next year, which, I believe, will make an even bigger "bang" in 2010

Matching the philanthropy with the business core objectives
Restaurants and food companies, like the Cheesecake Factory have taken on the cause of fighting hunger, but other industries like Sunoco, have come up with creative ways to match their philanthropy with their core business. Matching the philanthropy with the core business makes a lot of sense. It takes away the burden of an organization going through a process of deciding which kind of charity to support and utilizes the expertise that maximizes the strengths of the business.

Volunteering to supplement donations
This is probably the biggest trend in business philanthropy in the past year. As companies were struggling with the own economic difficulties and were unable maintain the same level of financial support to charities as before, they found that volunteering and pro-bono services could help support charities in more economically feasible ways. Even if the economy improves in 2010 and philanthropic giving has a rebound, companies will continue with their volunteerism. Companies have discovered the many benefits of volunteerism to the morale and satisfaction of company employees and charities have discovered how to better utilize company volunteer teams to their benefit also. This will be a trend that will continue to grow.

Cause marketing. Differentiating cause marketing from philanthropy is becoming increasingly more important. There are many consultants and blogs out there posting definitions of and having debates about the difference between cause marketing and philanthropy. Nevertheless, more and more big companies, see my latest blog post about Pepsi, and small local businesses are choosing this kind of support as a way to help and give back to local and global causes. If the end result of a cause marketing program is that a percentage of the returns are donated towards a worthwhile cause, businesses need to consider this trend as a serious option achieving their philanthropic goals.

Starting a business that gives back a percent. Whether it's giving a shoe for every shoe bought as in Tom's Shoes, or allocating a percent of profits that go back to charity, more and more entrepreneur's are starting businesses where the giving a percentage of profits to charity is baked into the mission and the business plan. I have posted stories about some of these businesses in 2009, Brokers for Charity, Glassybaby and others.

Involving the customer. Teaming up with customers is a great way to both raise money for charity and to raise awareness for a favorite cause. The jar on the counter or the collection bin in the hallway, is still a tried and true way to raise money or goods. Food stores like Whole Foods, has monthly local charities where they ask customers to support by donating spare change and Safeway supermarkets has seasonal fundraisers for breast and prostate cancer asking customers to add a dollar or two to their bill to help fund cancer research. Smaller service businesses have used their tip jars to go towards a local charity of their choice. Hotels That Help give customers the option of adding $1.oo a per night donation to their bill that will go to the hotel's charity of choice.

Social media involvement. The newest form of "involving the customer or consumer" is by using social media. This past year businesses like Microsoft through their "I'm e-mailing for Good Program", have been asking users to vote for their favorite charities that Microsoft will donate to. While this is sometimes part of a cause marketing program like Pepsi's "The Pepsi Refresh Project", in the case of Replyforall, user's choose which cause to support in their online signature. Facebook has gotten into the act too, helping out the Intel "As Sponsors of Tomorrow™" program, where Facebook users can nominate and vote for their favorite non-profit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helping Out Haiti's Disaster Victims

I was putting on the final touches for my latest post on business philanthropy, when I first heard of the disaster in Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and is so close, really, to the US. I heard an interview with Haiti's ambassador to the US on the CBS News with Katie Couric. She asked him what will the Haitians need? His reply was "everything".

Several years ago I met a remarkable young women at my son's high school that was engaged in a community service project during her summers in Haiti. This was right around the time I was clearing my son's room of his outgrown toys. As he was a Legomaniac from the age of 3, we had boxes and boxes of assorted Lego pieces. I packed these up in smaller boxes and gave them to her to take on her next trip to Haiti. This is a photo of a little Haitian boy playing with the Legos.

Of course Legos cannot take a priority over food, water, clothing, medical supplies and other urgent needs for the Haitians. But this country will need "everything" as they rebuild in the next few days, months, and even years to come.

When creating a philanthropic business plan it is not not possible to predict when or where there will be the next disaster. But a business can come up with ideas for acting quickly to raise money, send supplies, send extra inventory, partner with relief agencies, and engage customers in helping out. A sign in your window, a collection jar on your counter, a post on your blog, a twitter message, can also help in times of disaster.

For some more specific ways to help the disaster in Haiti right now check out the post at Service Nation

And I can post the story I was working on later.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Favorite Tweets of 2009, Includes Pepsi, Cheesecake Factory and Others

Here is Part II of my earlier post: My Favorite Business Philanthropy Tweets of 2009; great examples of business hoping to create a positive change through philanthropy. Once again, the original tweets are in red.

Pepsi Puts More Muscle Into Cause Marketing Than Super Bowl.

Pepsi had been the largest advertiser at the Super Bowl last year. After a 22 year presence at the Super Bowl the company has chosen to use it's advertising dollars for a $20 million dollar cause marketing campaign the"Pepsi Refresh Project" instead. Pepsi will be donating millions of dollars to a variety of community projects that consumers will submit and then vote on. This is Yes, Pepsi is hoping to get a boost through the project, so for Pepsi it falls into the category of cause marketing. But the result is Pepsi's donation to a variety of community causes.

RT @cheesecake1: San Jose tomorrow at 7-10.AM Cheesecake Factory Drive out Hunger Tour. AM

Cheesecake Factory led a Drive Out Hunger campaign all over the United States this past Sept.
Over 321,992 cans were collected from generous Americans.

And their drive to end hunger continues as The Cheesecake Factory will donate 25 cents to Feeding America for every slice of Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™ sold and will donate $1 for every Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™ ordered online.

This beats dragging things to dump! . Another way to get rid of your junk and donate it to charity. This company will come out and haul away junk from any residential or commercial property for a fee. They will donate as much as they can to charities that can use them and send you a a tax donation receipt. See my earlier post: Help Out Charities With Your Excess Stuff and Get a Tax Break.

Sunoco Supports Red Cross With 'Fuel-Up' Partnership Providing 130,000 gallons of gas to Red Cross vehicles

Since 2006, Sunoco has donated 32,751 gallons of gasoline to fuel the Southeast Pennsylvania's Chapter's disaster relief vehicles, Sunoco will now extend this partnership to the 77 vehicles of the Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region. Sunoco's donations have helped the chapter respond to more than 750 disasters spread over all five counties in just the last year. What a great example of matching philanthropy with a business's purpose.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Favorite Business Philanthropy Tweets of 2009-Part I

I love having the opportunity to post tweets about businesses that help the world in some way, since I can't write longer blog posts about all of the interesting stories that come across my desk. But twitter has it limitations in how much information I can pass on within each tweet as well as in its fleeting nature where posts may be easily missed.

There are so many businesses out there that deserve more notice of their worthwhile endeavors, so this first week of 2010 will be dedicated to posting expanded versions of my favorite business philanthropy and cause marketing tweets and retweets. Each of the stories mentioned reflect some key themes and trends in business philanthropy and cause marketing that will continue to be important in this next year and many others to come.

The actual tweets are highlighted in red. For more information please click on the link from the original source.

A rt via @writerpollock: Whole Foods debuts cause-related social marketing

Whole Foods, which I have profiled earlier this year, continues with its innovative ideas for philanthropy. This post describes the Whole Foods in-store and Facebook campaign that goes until the end of January called: "This Is My Year To...". This campaign offers consumers three choices for where they would like to focus their efforts for change and giving. Shoppers can choose to: "Know Where My Food Comes From", where funds will go to a Non-GMO Project; "Choose Organic", with the a project for increasing the market for organic food; or "Share My Plate", which provides sustainable food for needy people. Whole Foods will give $10,000 to each to the three groups, and an additional $10,000 to the group that gets the most votes on the Whole Foods Facebook Page.

RT @brokers4charity: Yumm RT @CAUSECAST , @BakingforGood,Social Entrepreneur Founds Charitable Online Cookie Company.

In this post Olivia Khalili interviews Emily Dubner, the founder of the online cookie company, Baking For Good. Dubner answers questions such as how and why she started the business, why she decided to give 15% profits to charity, the implications for profitability to the company, and how they partner with non-profits. This interview was originally posted on the blog: Intent

In lieu of layoffs in Redlands, CA. Steel employees asked to volunteer at local nonprofits. (The original link to the story is no longer available,- here is another link:

This past year California Steel Industries had asked employees to volunteer for local charities during their work hours. About 200 employees have helped out with a local charity that provides transitional housing for women and children. The company was hoping to stave off layoffs and save money by claiming these volunteer hours as a tax deduction.

Google Gives to Charity, Rather Than Sending Funky Gifts.

This story posted on NewsBlaze, was about Google sending donations to charities in lieu of the usually interesting but sometimes "funky", (as the author described it), holiday gifts to their best customers.

There is a growing personal trend to give charitable gifts for holidays, birthdays, weddings. I would love to know about any more businesses out there that have done the same as Google with their holiday gifts.

Projects in Knowledge is Brightening the Holidays for Many in Need.

Projects in Knowledge a company that develops programs in medical education, has always been involved in charitable giving. In spite of the economy this year they have increased their holiday giving to a variety of programs that serve women and children, hunger and poverty, breast cancer research, humane annual treatment and many others.