Sunday, May 30, 2010

Atlassian's Attains Big Milestone for Room to Read Through Cause Marketing

Over $500,000 Donated to Room to Read Through Sales of $10 Starter Licenses

SAN FRANCISCO & SYDNEY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Atlassian, makers of collaboration and developer tools, announced that its Starter license program has generated over $500,000 in donations to Room to Read, a global nonprofit organization focused on literacy and gender equality in education, in just 12-months. In April, 2009, Atlassian first introduced its Starter licenses to enable small teams and software startups of under 10 users to access its popular software products like the JIRA issue tracker and the Confluence wiki. Each Starter license costs only $10 and includes a perpetual license, full technical support and updates. To date over 31,000 licenses have been sold to over 14,000 unique customers.

“The great results have taken us by surprise”

A Pleasant Surprise

"The great results have taken us by surprise," said Mike Cannon-Brookes, CEO at Atlassian. "We thought we might sell a few thousand licenses, and then the promotion took on a life of its own. The prospect of making a meaningful donation and getting great software has been too good for business customers to pass up. Room to Read's efforts to promote literacy have inspired us for years, so when we sought out a charity for our Starter licenses, it was an easy choice."

Tangible Results

Room to Read has used the funds to invest in literacy programs and girls' education in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia. The current and future projects include the establishment of 34 libraries, four schools, and two local language books. Other funds have been set aside to sponsor 250 scholarships through the Girls' Education program which provides school fees, books, uniforms and transportation, mentoring and life skills training to help girls complete secondary school. In total, more than 32,000 children will have benefitted from educational opportunities supported through the Starter license promotion.

Succeeding by Doing Good

Atlassian's Room to Read donations are an extension of its innovative 1/1/1 corporate philanthropy model where 1% of employee time goes to volunteer work, 1% of company equity goes to the Atlassian foundation and 1% of products are donated to non-profits.

According to John Wood, Room to Read Founder and Board Chair, "Atlassian's contributions show how companies can succeed while also doing good for their community. Their innovative approach to selling software is enabling Room to Read to reach tens of thousands of children in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Cambodia and empower them through education."

In addition, Atlassian participated in a matching challenge with Financial Times readers. Atlassian pledged to equal Financial Times readers' donations to Room to Read of up to $100,000, effectively doubling its monies raised for Room to Read.

About Room to Read

Room to Read is a global organization seeking to transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Founded on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children, Room to Read works in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and to ensure girls have the skills and support needed to complete their secondary education. Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of more than four million children in Asia and Africa and aims to reach 10 million children by 2015. Learn more at

About Atlassian

Atlassian is an Australian software company specialising in software development and collaboration tools. More than 17,000 organisations of all sizes use Atlassian's issue tracking, collaboration and software development tools to work smarter and deliver quality results on time. Learn more at

Friday, May 28, 2010

One More Bit of Advice for National Small Business Week: Giving Is Good For Business

Small businesses had a chance to get a heap of advice about how to help their business grow at the National Small Business Week Conference As National Small Business Week is coming to an end, (and you can see some great pictures of Obama and others) it is worthwhile to offer more small business advice in the area of business philanthropy.

Today I stumbled upon a blog post in Fast Company from Jan.7 2010. Is Philanthropy the New Marketing?
Here is the first paragraph from the post:
Has large corporate America figured out what small business has known for a long time?  That giving back to the community is not only the right thing to do, but also a great way to get your name/product/promotion out there for free?

Well I didn't exactly agree.I think that small businesses may feel that advice about philanthropy does not apply to them, it's meant for the big guys.

Small businesses need to realize that they may have a greater impact on community philanthropy as they are often closer and more connected to their local communities and community needs than the bigger companies. And that connection may in return help their businesses grow.

Several of my former posts have addressed this topic and so, in honor of National Small Business Week, here is my summary from them: Why Giving Is Good For Business:

  • Giving back to the community can help the economic growth of your community which in turns helps community members prosper and come back to you as customers.  
  • You can use your advertising dollars more effectively by enhancing your marketing and publicity. By getting involved in a local cause, you build relationships as your community gets to know you .You can use your marketing dollars towards advertising both your business and the cause that you support. In return they will create more publicity for you. 
  • Speaking of relationships,what better way to network to other businesses or to customers than by working together on a philanthropic project? 
  • Create a happier work environment by building rapport amongst your employees when they work together on a cause.

For more on why giving is good for you business check out the following posts:

Should Your Business Have a Philanthropy Program?

Five Reasons Why Doing Good Helps Your Business

Why Giving is Good For Business and Patriotic

In reality all sized businesses alike can learn from each other about the benefits of giving back to the community. In the end I hope they will be sharing ideas and strategies with each other towards creating social benefit for the world and their communities.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

InspireNotes Lends a Daily Boost

Michele Abrams wants to inject a little positivity into your day. That’s the idea behind her company InspireNotes, an online retailer specializing in notepads, pens and journals adorned with bite-sized, original quotables covering a variety of subjects, from life and love to energy, health and career. A few weeks back, I profiled Michele’s philanthropic music event production company, Cjazz. As with Cjazz, InspireNotes donates a sizable chunk of its proceeds to Seattle’s renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. That gifting reflects the ethos of self-empowerment behind InspireNotes, as well as the circumstances that shaped it.

The business grew out of Michele’s own need for inspiration during a particularly challenging period in her life. As she recalls, “Two years ago, I worked in a very high-profile marketing position for one of the world’s biggest accounting firms, but I was unable to really be my authentic self in that environment. I knew that I wanted to try something new in my career and leverage my experience to launch my own business.” Having recently lost her mother to cancer, she found her life shadowed by grief. “Through the grieving process, I found myself putting positive messaging everywhere around my home, in my office, placing them strategically where I could see them throughout the day. It physically made me feel better, and I thought, you know, maybe I can make a difference for others.”

That revelation led her to reflect on the variety of arenas for potential motivation. “We all go through different things in our lifetime. Loss is certainly one, but you know, people struggle with health and wellness, with dieting, love, career changes. So I began to write themes that resonate with where people are at in their lives, and so InpireNotes was born.”

With the concept in place, Michele turned her attention to the nuts and bolts of the products. “I began researching all the things you need to know about manufacturing. I decided to make notepads, pens and journals our flagship products because they are the most frequently used in the home and at the office.”

Through the product development phase, Michele fine-tuned the principles and practices of her new business. “It took me about a year to research how to manufacture a notepad. I had to interview multiple printers. I really wanted to support our local community, so I kept my manufacturing local.” Living among the redwoods of Washington state, she had long valued environmentally friendly business practices. “I wanted to use sustainable materials for my printing practices, so I was very particular about choosing the right printing partner. InspireNotes prints onto forest-certified recycled papers with soy-based inks. We believe in being as kind to the earth as we can. And we are happy to spend a little more to ensure that our footprint is as soft as it can be.”

Since launching in late 2008, InspireNotes has grown into a joyful, thriving business. The company sells its products directly through their own website, and also partners with leading online retailer Amazon, selling and shipping InspireNotes products.

Additionally, InspireNotes designs custom products for business customers. Explains Abrams, “For instance, one of our clients is the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. We use their beautiful logo and brand as artwork, and they choose the InspireNotes content that exudes their property’s unique flair or that highlights their mission and values, and we print that content onto their notepads.”

But the heart of the product remains its positive messaging. “One of things that I feel very privileged to do is remind people to turn their thoughts to the positive. We hear it all the time from our customers that, wow, you made such a difference in my day and moved me in the right direction. For me, that makes it all worthwhile.”

Check out InspreNotes on Facebook!

To order InspireNotes products, go to:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hey, National Small Business Week! What About Philanthropy?

All over the country more and more people are catching on to the idea that small businesses can be major contributors through philanthropy and volunteerism to causes. This week is the presidentially designated National Small Business Week and the conference is being held in Washington DC, May 23rd and 25th. The main goal and, a worthy one, of  National Small Business Week is to drive entrepreneurial development and to give support and  ideas that help small businesses to thrive. While there are some great workshops and cool people like the CEO of Zipcar speaking, there is an absence of any mention in the program of small business social responsibility, philanthropy, or sustainability. However, major cities around the country have hosted their own Small Business Week events and San Francisco held one workshop on Social Responsibility led by Steven Van Yoder,Get Slightly Famous, Sylvia Ventura, founder One Block off the Grid & Nikki Pava, Co-founder/Co-host, EcoTuesday and Sylvia Ventura. Sorry that I was out of town, l would have loved to attend.

The statistics about the economic impact of small businesses on the US economy always amaze me. Here is what is posted on the conference website:
Small businesses are major contributors to the strength of the American economy. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. They also create 60-80 percent of new jobs in the country. Small businesses drive innovation, create 21st century jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness.
And, if one considers the fact that small businesses account for 70% of the work force, it is easy to see  that social responsibility and philanthropy should be not left only to the corporate giants.

So, as my small part of contributing to  National Small Business Week, I will be highlighting some of my earlier posts and featuring other blogposts and articles that have focused on distinctive issues that small businesses face in philanthropy; how small businesses to can have the most impact on supporting their local communities; and why giving is good for small businesses.  

Can social responsibility and philanthropy be an important contributor to the growth of a small business-Absolutely! And so, I have a mission, help me fulfill it! Let' s get National Small Business Week to include social  responsibility and philanthropy on their agenda in 2011.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Philanthropy: Easier To Do Than To Say?

It seems that growing up in a family with the tradition of philanthropy, young kids learn early the value of giving back and take that with them into their adult lives. Certainly in my interviews with social entreprenuers, like Enmi Kendall of Replyforall, and Xavier Helgeson of Better World Books that seems to have been the case.

Starting young is a great way to instill the value of giving back, and thanks to Generous Colorado for this delightful clip of budding young philanthropists, trying to just say the word.

For all you businesses in Colorado- Generous Colorado can help you find non-profits and causes that are a good match for your business philanthropy to support.

And for all you budding philanthropists-your actions speak louder than words.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Panera Picks Up the Tab

Pay-what-you-can just might be catching on. A year ago on this blog, we profiled a local diner in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that responded to the economic downturn by inviting customers to shell out only what they could afford for lunch, dinner or breakfast. Then on Wednesday, I wrote about the online video game company Wolfire, who recently offered a package of games for sale at a price named by the customer, then donated a healthy chunk of the profits to charity. Now comes news that Panera Bread, the popular bakery cafe chain, has spearheaded a new pay-what-you-can restaurant in a suburb of St. Louis.

As the Associated Press reported this week, the new cafe, run by a Panera-sponsored non-profit foundation, will be called St. Louis Bread Co. Cares. The pay-what-you-can establishment features the parent company's signature menu. True to its advertising, the cafe allows customers to pay whatever they can afford for their meal, ranging from a penny to the full suggested menu price of the items.

The cafe's motto, hanging on a sandwich board over the counter, reads, "Take what you can, leave your fair share."

Such restaurants, like the concept, aren't new. That said, Panera's effort marks the first time a national chain has attempted a long-term pay-what-you-can initiative. In coming months, should the cafe cover its expenses and prove a sustainable model, Panera hopes to open a similar restaurant in major markets throughout the country.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gamers Turn to Giving: Wolfire Games and the Humble Indie Bundle

Indie video game producer Wolfire has added a touch of innovation to their fun and games. That’s the impression the scrappy online gaming company gave consumers when it recently spearheaded a buzz-worthy experiment in charitable giving.

It’s little secret that the video game industry is serious business. Last year consumers in the United States spent over $25 billion on video games and related products. Though the bulk of those dollars go toward popular consoles like the Xbox and Play Station, nearly a fourth of all video games sales take place exclusively over the web, where Internet gaming has swelled in popularity.

How ornate is this whole arena? When reading up on it, I got so lost I had call up my tech-savvy friend, Mike, a Wolfire customer and occasional gamer, who runs the fantastic site Sake River.

Net-based games, Mike told me, like the companies and design teams that produce them, range in size, from the mighty multimillion-player World of Warcraft to smaller indie upstarts, featuring admittedly cheaper, more homemade graphics, but also stronger stories from grassroots companies with a hip, pro-consumer vibe.

And never has the dynamic nature of these companies been on better display than with Wolfire Games’ “Humble Indie Bundle.” Starting just a few weeks ago, the gaming company, creator of hits like Lugaru: The Rabbit’s Foot and World of Goo, joined other designers to bundle together five games into a DRM-free, cross-platform package for sale.

But here comes the really cool part.

Wolfire took a page from the alternative rock band Radiohead, who released their 2007 album In Rainbows for online digital download via a pay-what-you-want structure that allowed fans to select the amount they could afford. In the case of the Humble Indie Bundle, a game collection that would normally sell for upwards of $80, Wolfire set a minimum price of one cent. The proceeds were then divided between the game’s designers and two different charities, allowing buyers to set the structure for how their game-buying dollars were divvied, and where the money was allocated.

Even the charity recipients reflected the renegade, open-source culture of Wolfire and its customers. The first was Child’s Play, an organization that donates toys and video games to a network of over sixty children’s hospitals around the globe. The second was the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights and legal advocacy organization designed to protect civil liberties in the age of computing and telecommunications.

The Humble Indie Bundle experiment commenced on May 4th and concluded on May 15th, garnering a slew of attention along the way. From the very start, a surprising reveal set the blogs buzzing. Despite the one cent minimum price, nearly a quarter of all Bundle downloads were illegally pirated. If, like me, you’re struggling to make heads or tails of that, you can read a spirited and thoughtful analysis on - of all places! – Wolfire’s own blog, indicating they’d anticipated a rebellious, counter-intuitive response from some customers. Some pirates, it seems, just want to be pirates.

But once the dust settled, Wolfire did some well-earned boasting. In all, 138,811 fans purchased the package, shelling out an astonishing $1,273,588. Of that amount, the honest buyers of the Humble Bundle earmarked 30% of their dollars straight to the charities, leading Wolfire to donate $392,947 to Child’s Play and the EFF.

These renegade gamers showed an impressive collective might. Here this frequently misunderstood community of fans, artists and storytellers imparted a unique show of goodwill, maybe dashing at last that tired stereotype of the boys in mom’s basements.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Godin's Got the Goods

There's nothing I love more than finding hidden, or not so hidden, gems on the Internet, and here's one I just couldn't wait to share.

A few nights ago, I had dinner with my brother, and per usual, our conversation turned to the changing face of media and business, the effects of the Internet on those changes, and the incredible opportunities for innovation in this new century.

He recommended a blog created and maintained by a guy named Seth Godin. Now Seth is one of those people on whom you don't want to put a label, but if you insisted, I'd describe him as a marketing expert, business philosopher and all-purpose out-of-the-box thinker.

Seth's a Stanford MBA with a long and eclectic resume as an an entrepreneur. He worked for awhile as a book packager, then founded the online marketing company Yoyodyne, where he created the concept of "permission marketing," in which businesses, usually net-based ones, seek explicit permission from customers - i.e. in the form of email opt-ins and the like - before sending promotional material.

He's also written eleven books, not to mention created the the social media info portal, Squidoo, which donates 50% of its profits to members, and another 5% to charity.

But it's on his blog - aptly titled Seth's Blog - where Godin truly shines. Jump on over to it and take in a dose of his thoughts and ideas. You can even sign up for email blasts of upcoming posts.

Here's a sample to whet your palate. Reprinted below is an irresistible piece from Godin, published earlier this week. Enjoy!

Where do you Find Good Ideas?

Do you often find ideas that change everything in a windowless conference room, with bottled water on the side table and a circle of critics and skeptics wearing suits looking at you as the clock ticks down to the 60 minutes allocated for this meeting?

If not, then why do you keep looking for them there?

The best ideas come out of the corner of our eye, the edge of our consciousness, in a flash. They are the result of misdirection and random collisions, not a grinding corporate onslaught. And yet we waste billions of dollars in time looking for them where they're not.

A practical tip: buy a big box of real wooden blocks. Write a key factor/asset/strategy on each block in big letters. Play with the blocks. Build concrete things out of non-concrete concepts. Uninvite the devil's advocate, since the devil doesn't need one, he's doing fine.

Have fun. Why not? It works.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Virign America Combines Flying With Philanthropy and Volunteering

While I promised not to make comments about my flight experience on different airlines, I cannot resist giving Virgin America a huge thumbs up for the service and for their philanthropy. How could I not love the lavender interior and lighting (my favorite color) as well as the touch screens that give me the opportunity to choose from dozens of movies and recording artists, order on demand food, as well as the opportunity to learn about and donate to Virgin America's favorite charities. 

Virgin America makes it easy to engage their customers in their philanthropy.With a touch on the screen and a swipe of a credit card, a customer can donate to Haiti relief, the CA State Parks Foundation or SF Animal Care and Control .With a touch and a swipe a flier could also give to to offset the environmental impact of their flight. 

The screen provides great visuals to also learn more about their philanthropy. When I touched their icon on the screen I learned that Virgin America partners with the non-profit, 2 Life 18 Foundation  and helps them send 40,00 lbs of medicine, medical equipment and food. I also learned that Virgin America employees volunteer on Earth Day with the CA State Parks Foundation to help restore our state parks and that employees volunteer to help escort rescued pups to New York that need adoption.

Virgin America is based in San Francisco,CA and has a commitment to support other community organizations that are in alignment with their values. You can read about their other community programs on the Virgin America Community Site. 

Virgin America cares about their customers and their community, and they make it easy for the customers to care and help also.

Friday, May 14, 2010

United Airlines Makes Philanthropic Connections

United Airlines uses the theme of "connections" as their corporate philanthropic signature. They have certainly helped me make a lot of connections from the San Francisco area to cities all over the country and the world and the image of making connections is an apt one for an airline's philanthropic programs. While my goal here is not to comment on how great my experience with an airline has been, I am impressed by what I read in their Hemispheres Magazine about the variety of ways they are using connections to help out with local and global causes.

Making connections for Haitian relief
In spite of the fact that United does not serve Port au Prince, when Tanya Jackson, the president of United Airlines Foundation returned from a trip to Haiti, it was obvious that United had to donate their resources in planes, equipment and personnel, to help with flying in necessary supplies and relief workers. United also partnered with The US Customs to help bring in orphans, where United employees often accompanied them to their final US destinations. United also provided transportation to Haitian injured children in need of medical treatment in the US. United efforts needed to be coordinated with corporate and nonprofit partners as well as making by making the connections with the US military overseeing relief flight schedules.

Connecting customers,employees, and even kids to fight hunger
Now that airlines have to provide food service by selling meals in boxes,United has come up with a creative idea for raising funds for the national organization Feeding America. Every dollar from the purchased snackboxes, titled "Eat for Good" goes towards fighting hunger. The colorful snackboxes were designed by a student participant from another partner program in the Chicago area, After School Matters.

Connecting teddy bears with kids
United customers can donate dollars or frequent flier miles, charity miles to the American Cancer Society which will have teddy bears delivered to children undergoing medical treatment through their Hugyou Family Teddy Bear Program.

Connecting employees with community
United Airlines continues its support of local community causes through employee charity walks and donation drives.

United uses "connections" as a unifying theme and image for their corporate philanthropy and branding that helps them integrate their programs as well convey a unified story to their customers and employees.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

British Airways Eco and Philanthropic Credentials

Recently I had the opportunity to fly in British Airways and read the section in their High Life magazine about their corporate philanthropy and  their "environmental credentials" as they described.

British Airways has found sports a powerful vehicle for building positive relationships with a charity and doing good for disadvantaged youth all over the world. British Airways has partnered with the non-profit, Cricket for Change. Cricket for Change brings programs to youth in 15 countries, everywhere from the inner cities in England, to war torn areas like the Gaza Strip bringing together youth from different backgrounds, including those with disabilities, to gain skills, have fun, and to build positive relationships.

Another of British Air's charities is Chain of Hope. Chain of Hope provides children in undeveloped countries that suffer from a life threatening disease with necessary corrective surgery. British Air has specifically targeted Chain of Hope's efforts in Jamaica, providing heart surgery for children with defective hearts. 

British Air supports programs across the British Airways route network with a particular focus on the areas of:
  • education and youth development
  • sustainable tourism
  • environment
  • heritage
  • support of staff-led projects 
Change for Good is another charitable program that is a partnership between British Airways and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The program engages British Airways customers and staff to donate any spare change or foreign currency that is converted by Travelex to support UNICEF’s work in 58 countries worldwide.

And while booking a flight on British Air, customers can buy carbon emission offsets that support a variety of renewable energy projects in Brazil and China.

British Airways flights reach is all over the globe and they consider the globe their community. Their charity reflects their commitment to care about these communities.

I am happy to have had the opportunity to fly with them and in some small way help them reach their environmental and philanthropic goals.

For more about  British Air's global community and conservation activities check out their Community link on British Airways Website.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Airlines MakeTheir Philanthropy Soar

Whatever we all think of airlines and their customer service, their corporate philanthropy and community service programs deserve a high approval rating.

I have been fortunate to travel to some great places flying on several airlines in the last three months. This gave me the opportunity to make reservations on their websites, read their inflight magazines and turn on their inflight programming monitors.

While the airline industry has been beset with problems of their own, volcanic ash, economic crises, strikes and others, they continue to help solve problems of the less fortunate in the world by utilizing their resources and involving their customers in their philanthropic programs and can serve a model to other businesses of any size.

In the next few posts I will write about three airlines, British Air, United, and Virgin America and what they are doing to help support a variety of causes, their partnerships with non-profits and their support of local community charities. 

If you know of any other other airlines that are partnering with charities, please let us know. 
It is great to know that while we are waiting for our lost luggage to arrive, or frustrated with cancelled flights, the airlines are out there helping those a lot less fortunate.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cjazz Founder Riffs for Her Cause

For Michele Abrams, a little groove and style is just the start. For more than a decade, the seasoned Seattle-based concert producer and entrepreneur has fused the soulful strains of adult jazz with a knack for event-based philanthropy. As founder of Cjazz, a philanthropically-minded music events company, Abrams has created the ideal platform to pair some of the most melodic stars in contemporary music with her own branded events to promote cutting-edge cancer research.

Abrams’ career began in the film and TV industry, but changed trajectory after a move to Seattle, where her passion for music took centerstage. There she moonlighted as the weekend on-air personality for Bellevue-based radio station KWJZ, and soon launched her own contemporary jazz website, Cjazz. As Abrams recalls, “It was the early days of the Internet, probably 1993 when I launched it, and at that time, it was more of a way to pair my passion for music with technology.”

As the website developed, Abrams began to organize and promote small and medium-sized jazz shows throughout the Seattle area. In 2003, she staged the Eastside Jazz Series at a 500-seat performance center in Kirkland Washington, where the performances featured two of Michele’s longtime favorites: saxophonists Euge Groove and Eric Marienthal. In 2004, Abrams founded a more permanent home for her preferred sound, creating the Cjazz Lounge, a contemporary jazz supper club located in the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Soon after, though, Abrams lost her mother to cancer, following the earlier loss of her father to the disease. As a result, her mind turned to the philanthropic potential of her work. The fit, she says, was an organic one. “I’ve always been very philanthropic. I’ve always volunteered throughout my entire life, and I’ve derived great joy from that. Music being my biggest passion, it was natural for me to utilize that as a way to give back.”

During a vacation to Kauai, Abrams’ relationship with the Hyatt Bellevue connected her to the five-star Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa, where local fundraisers served her with a special request. Recalls Abrams, “They asked if Cjazz would be willing to produce a concert to raise money for women’s’ shelters on the island. It was pretty easy to say, when do you want to get started?”

Abrams volunteered a year of her time. The result was Jazz on the Shores, a two-night luxury event at the Grand Hyatt and the nearby Princeville Resort, featuring such luminaries of contemporary jazz as Groove, keyboardist Greg Karukas and saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa, all to benefit the YWCA of Kauai and their Family Violence Shelter.

Fresh from that success, Abrams’ efforts turned in a more personal direction when she partnered with the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In 2007 she was invited to join the Center’s Holiday Gala Board of Directors, bringing her expertise and creativity to the event, and helping to procure exciting auction items. For the occasion in 2009, she partnered with popular Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling saxophonist Dave Koz to craft a backstage VIP meet-and-greet package, a hot-ticket auction item that earned a sizzling $7,000 to help fund vital cancer initiatives.

Now Abrams and her team at Cjazz are fast at work on their most ambitious event yet. Partnered with the Oasis Music Awards, scheduled for March 2011 in San Diego, Cjazz will host a large-scale ticketed performance event, In Concert for Cancer. The show will be the first of many, predicts Abrams. “We have very big plans to scale this into a huge annual event.”

With a wealth of experience under her belt, Michele Abrams feels she’s found a winning formula with Cjazz. “I think that there is nothing that inspires people more than music,” she says, “no matter what the genre, whether punk or rock or country. It’s such a wonderful way to lift spirits. My goal is to share the joy of live music performance with others. How do you do better than that? Putting on a knock-your-socks-off concert and taking the proceeds to fund a cause that everybody’s been touched by. To me, that’s joy.”

To learn more about In Concert for Cancer, jump right over here!

And enjoy a tune from Michele's pal and collaborator, Jeff Kashiwa:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rise in Volunteerism Signals Giving In, Greedy Out

Author: Sparxoo

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” J.F. Kennedy spoke these words in 1961 and their meaning has not faded since. At the time JFK gave this famous address, there was racial strife, inequality and our soldiers were fighting a war in another country. The former President understood the value in unity — working together to promote change. Today, we face similar challenges in our political, economic and social systems and it is through volunteerism and altruism that we can move forward into a brighter future. The tremendous support for the Haiti relief effort illustrates not only corporate, but personal responsibility.


Social Entrepeneurship — There has been a surge of social entrepreneurs in recent years. Social entrepreneurs blend the traditional financial model with a social mission. “It’s true that ‘just send the check’ philanthropy has been flatlining for years — the figure of about 1 percent of pre-tax profits for America’s corporate giving has hardly moved for decades,” writes the Washington Post. It’s not just about writing a check, it’s about rolling up your sleeves and being an active participate in impacting change.

Volunteerism — While our wallets might be pinched from the recession, our time is not. Eighty six percent of non-profit organizations are under financial stress. However, a recent survey conducted by MAVA found that unemployed workers are volunteering more frequently. Consequently, 50 percent of non-profits reported an increase in volunteer hours are their organization.

A CNCS report shows that about 8.2 million young people (ages 16-24) volunteered in 2008, compared with about 7.6 million in 2007
Fifty percent of non-profits reported an increase in volunteer hours are their organization
Community volunteerism increased 31 percent in the last year.

Take Aways
Take advantage of the rise in volunteerism. Partner with an organization, such as Habitat for Humanity, to get your current customer base excited about your brand while making a difference.
Embed a social cause into your organization to enhance your product offering. For instance, if your product costs $1.00, raise the price to $1.10 and donate $.9 to a charitable foundation.
Include the consumer in the creation process as well as allowing them to just buy an end product. For instance, allows designers to submit a t-shirt graphic...

To read more about volunteerism and social entrepreneurship, go to Sparxoo, a digital marketing, branding and business development blog.

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About the AuthorSparxoo is a business blog that inspires breakthrough by tomorrow’s leaders. We are a strategy consulting firm with a pulse on marketing, branding, and development.