Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Busting Myths About Corporate Volunteering

As an introduction to the 2010 National Conference on Volunteering and Service being held in NYC right now- Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute and William Daley,Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co.William wrote an excellent account in this weekend's Hufington Post about the current direction in corporate volunteering and serving community: "Business Serves Local Communities: Doing Well By Doing Good." They highlighted the importance of corporate volunteerism as both an old tradition in American corporate culture as well as a new wave of creating shared value within the community.

This brought on a slew of cynical comments based on what I think are some myths about the mix of corporate goals and doing good. I don't mind questioning motives of businesses in their "Doing Good" practices, since I have done so on my own blog here, as when KFC partnered with the Komen for Cure, in their Buckets For the Cure Campaign. This kind of scrutiny is a good thing as it keeps businesses focused on their true philanthropic and social repsonisibility goals and keeps them mindful of the impact of their philanthropy for the recipients and for their own business.

This last week I participated in a meeting hosted by the Bay Area  Corporate Volunteer Council and by the Bay Area Entrepreneurs Foundation. The main topics of the gathering were: Employee Development, Rewards and Recognition, and Skills Based Volunteering. Participants in this meeting included representatives from large companies such as: Intel, Hewlett Packard, AT&T, and smaller ones like NetSuite and Technology Credit Union. This gave me an opportunity to hear of the many approaches of corporate volunteerism that businesses use and their benefits to both the business and the community. These programs served as examples that could bust any of the following myths about corporate do-goodism and making money as an impossible mix,

Myth #1. Businesses can't be trusted to "Do Good" without having purely selfish motives. 
Most businesses acknowledge that volunteerism, CSR and corporate giving is great PR and a great way to build a relationship with a community and yes, hopefully that may translate into good business. Businesses not only do not hide the fact that they gain benefit, but see it as a win-win for everyone in building a thriving community.

Myth #2. Employees don't get their jobs done while wasting time on volunteering.
 In fact companies also reap huge benefits of volunteerism in training and development of their employees, team building, building morale, and recruitment. The result is more productivity on the job.

Myth #3. Employees have to volunteer on their own time. 
Pro-bono and skilled based services are types of volunteering that are paid for by the company and are often the most costly volunteer services for the company. Many companies offer long term employee services to non-profits. Many volunteer hours are during work hours as many projects such as food or toy drives are on company premises. Employees who have started their own volunteer project at work, have often parlayed that experience into a full-time community relations position at that company, running volunteer programs as their full time job. Some companies offer time-off from work as rewards for community service.

Myth #4. Corporate bosses leave the volunteering to the employees.
Many executives are well known to sit on boards of non-profits where they bring to the table their knowledge of strategy and management.One company reported that their executives are required to sit on non-profit boards as part of their corporate responsibilities. Many executives work hand in hand on volunteer projects with their employees showing corporate support of these efforts.

Myth #5. Companies substitute volunteerism for monetary support of the non-profit. 
Studies have shown that corporate volunteerism translates into monetary contributions to the non-profits that are served. Several companies have Dollar for Doers programs, where volunteers hours are added up and a matching amount of money is donated to the volunteer's designated charity.

I look forward to following the sessions at the National Conference for Volunteering and Service, particularly the corporate volunteering sessions, for some more myth busting examples of corporate volunteering.

Businesses have arrived at a new era of responsibility and service to their communities and are challenging the idea that business cannot be focused on creating shareholder value and on the community benefit as well.

Friday, June 25, 2010

One Gets Multiplied

Green is good, but sometimes action and expertise pack an added wallop. Philanthropic groups can always use a little extra financial support, but the vigorous energy and informed skills of businesses can also do a lot to boost social good. That's the mindset behind the "1/1/1" model of philanthropic giving, in which businesses donate one percent of their equity, but also one percent of their product and one percent of employee's time.

Put simply, it's the power of one compounded.

All this week, I've been profiling the "power of one" trend in business philanthropy. On Monday, I explored the "buy one, give one" model in which businesses donate one product for each one sold. On Wednesday, I delved into the "one for humanity" facet of the movement, where businesses contribute one percent of their revenue to a cause. The 1/1/1 model evolved organically from the two, leveraging the built-in benefits of market expertise to support social good on a variety of levels.

Widely credited with originating the concept, cloud computing company SalesForce and its dynamic, celebrated CEO Marc Benioff have done lots to popularize the 1/1/1 concept. SalesForce, through its charitable arm, the SalesForce.com Foundation, started by donating 1% of founding stock in the form of grants to qualified nonprofits specializing in youth development and technological innovation.

Their efforts expanded from there. Next SalesForce offered employees six paid days of volunteer time each year. To date, those volunteers, often partnering with groups of their own choosing, have worked 38,126 hours, mentored 178 young students, served 57,340 meals to the homeless and given 159 units of blood.

But perhaps the most inventive part of SalesForce's giving structure is their 1% of product donated. So often, businesses large and small possess a wealth of knowledge and know-how. Realizing this, the SalesForce Foundation started donating 1% of their cloud-computing applications and licenses, then training nonprofits in the use of them, offering advice and assistance in their specialty areas of sales, service and customer relationship management. By sharing their time, tech and accumulated knowledge with the philanthropic community, Sales Force has established itself as a leader in the 21st century integration of business and giving.

Others have followed their example, too. The funky, Australian-based software development company Atlassian, as noted last month on this blog, is in the midst of a dynamic 1/1/1 iniatitive with their Causium software distribution model. Noticing flagging sales of a software product tailored to small business, Atlassian decided to give away the product at an ultra-low price, or "micropayment," then donate the profits to the literacy group Room to Read.

But Atlassian didn't want to cut any corners, so employees chipped in to supply Causium buyers with free tech support and training for the software. So far the effort has been staggeringly successful, raising $500,000 for Room to Read, and leaving Atlassian determined to cross to cross the million dollar mark.

Other businesses have hopped onboard as well. Another cloud computing company, C-Level Management has drafted a series of "Giving Back" philanthropy goals based on the 1/1/1 model and similarly patterned after the notion of sharing their expertise, here in the form of consulting grants to nonprofits and educational institutions. NewVoiceMedia, a telephony technology developer based in the UK, has also crafted a program of paid volunteer days for employees, as well as product donations and discounts to qualified charities.

By integrating their success with the wellbeing of society, SalesForce and similar companies have forged a dynamic new role for business. Multiplying by one, it turns out, can yield huge dividends.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One for Humanity

This is the story of how a drop in the bucket turns into a flood. That's the foundational notion behind the "one for humanity" movement. Over the course of this week, I'm illustrating the myriad ways in which the "power of one" is slowly impacting the face of business philanthropy. On Monday I profiled the "buy one, give one" model through which businesses donate one product to charity for each one purchased. Today I'm turning my attention to a similar concept, the "one for humanity" model, in which businesses commit 1% of their earnings to a cause of their choice.

As a spark starts a fire, it's easy to see how one 1% could be an acceptable sacrifice for any socially-minded business, and yet still become a potent force for good as the ranks of participating businesses swell.

Credit for this model, at least in part, belongs to 1% For Humanity, an association of businesses dedicated to donating just that fraction of their annual revenues to any of an array of worthy humanitarian organizations around the globe. 1% For Humanity has provided an idea impetus much like that of Buy1,Give1, the organization I mentioned in Monday's post, providing a platform to help businesses give their 1% to nonprofits like CARE, the Hunger Fund, Feeding America, and an organization I've worked with myself, Amor Ministries.
The flagship member of 1% For Humanity was the hip, youth-oriented retailer Jedidiah Clothing, which bills itself as "fusing the beauty of art with the fabric of clothing for the greater good." Jedidiah's commitment to their philanthropy is woven into the ethos of their company. Several years ago, they created a custom line, the Hope Collection, to raise funds for a rotating roster of targeted causes, one for each season of their fashion line. To date, the Hope Collection has raised $328,963 for these groups.

Based on the same idea, 1% for the Planet, a similar business association, encourages businesses to donate 1% of their earning to environmental causes. Created in 2001 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor apparel mainstay Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% for the Planet aids businesses in paying what Chouinard playfully calls the "Earth tax." Made up of over 700 participating businesses from every continent on Earth, 1% for the Planet fuels nonprofits specializing in a staggering spread of issues, including alternative energy development, environmental justice, wildlife protection, air quality and bike advocacy.

All told, these "one for humanity" groups illustrate the power of collective action, the simplicity with which a tiny splash from many cups can build a tidalwave of change.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Buy One, Give One Gains A Lot

Who says one can't make a difference? Among the many innovative new concepts entering the zeitgeist of business philanthropy every single day, none is as blissfully simple and efficient as the concept of "buy one, give one." All this week, I'll be examining the philanthropic "power of one" movement, starting today with the "buy one, give one" concept that's quickly entering the lexicon of entrepreneurs and philanthropists all around the globe.

As Lalia mentioned in her piece last week, the whole notion has a built-in simplicity to it: central to the "buy one, give one" concept is the guarantee that for every item of product sold, a business donate an equivalent item to someone in need. In essence, the business and their customer become partners in philanthropy when customers purchase great products at low prices and sponsor the business' matching gift.

The model was conceived by Masami Sato, an entrepreneur based in Singapore. Inspired by her own globetrotting travels, encountering different cultures and the excess of need many of them experience, Sato pioneered the "buy one, give one" concept with one of her own businesses before founding Buy 1GIVE 1, or B1G1, in 2007. Led by an executive team from around the world, B1G1 is a social enterprise designed to recruit businesses for their "buy one, give one" model. Working through their nonprofit arm, B1G1 Society, businesses can register with B1G1 and get start with this "embedded" giving by helping to fund any of an array of projects. So far member businesses from 28 countries have donated millions to over 600 different projects, all dedicated to "impacting the world one transaction at a time."

And the concept, so well-branded and refreshingly uncomplicated has spread at wildfire speeds, even outside the domain of B1G1. Of course, we've mentioned TOM'S Shoes, the darling of the "buy one, give one" movement, but others have followed their blazing lead.

Figs, a boutique company specializing in stylish ties and bowties, has spearheaded a unique "threads for threads" concept. For every tie sold, Figs donates a school uniform to a child in the developing world, particularly Africa, where uniforms and good appearance are required by custom for children who attend school.

The online wine vendor CellarThief has chosen clean water as their company's pet cause. Offering - true to their name - great wines at stellar low prices, CellarThief makes a donation for every bottle sold, contributing to causes that support potable water in the Third World. According to their site they've so far funded 223,200 days of clean water since the company's launch.

In the same way, my favorite of the "buy one, give one" companies, online eyewear retailer Warby Parker has a knack for designing and peddling hip, cutting-edge eyeglass frames. Founded by four Wharton grads and longtime pals, Warby Parker utilizes a straight-froward "Buy A Pair/Give A Pair" practice, wherein they partner with RestoreVision.org to donate one pair of glasses for every pair sold. So far they've distributed needed eyewear to a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Ghana, El Salvador, Peru, Ethiopia, Mexico, and even several locations within the US.

With results like these, who says one is the loneliest number?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Business Giving: How the Small Number "One" Can Make a Big Difference

One little number, the number "one"-can pack a powerful punch in corporate philanthropy and small business giving by making a difference to one person, to one organization, to one cause.

There is a story that is often told to illustrate the philanthropic principle of the power of "one". The story goes like this: A man was walking on the beach when he came across a  boy who was sifting through the debris. When the boy found a starfish he would throw it back into the sea. The man asked the boy why he was doing that and he replied that a the starfish will die if they are out of the water for too long. "But you can't possibly save all of them?" "No," the boy said, "but I can save that one."

Businesses are discovering that allocating even a small amount of their resources to a variety of causes, can create meaningful impact. In our upcoming three part series we will have take a look at three business giving models that are designed around the concept of "one", and that have invited other businesses to join them in finding innovative ways to give back to humanity and the world.

Buy One, Give One- Buy1Give1- One For One- all about giving "one" to someone need, for every one bought.

TOMS Shoes has rapidly become the sweetheart of the philanthropic world with their appealing model of giving a pair of shoes to one needy child, for every pair of shoes bought. We wrote about TOMS' One for One model, a little more than a year ago, and the number of businesses since then that engage in this type philanthropic model  has mushroomed.  And other companies like Socks For Happy People have adopted  a Buy One, Give One Model also.
And Buy1Give1 is a transaction based membership organization that helps businesses donate to good causes. 

One Percent
One Percent For the Planet, developed by Yvon Chouinard the founder of Patagonia - is an alliance of  businesses that promise to donate 1 percent of profits to environmental causes.
One Percent For Humanity is an association of businesses committed to giving at least 1% of their annual revenues to approved non-profit humanitarian organizations.

1/1/1  Model

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com  has created  salesforce.com's integrated philanthropy 1/1/1 Model — a commitment to giving one percent of profits, one percent of employee volunteer time, and donating one percent of products to non-profit organizations.
Salesforce.com's visionary 1/1/1 integrated philanthropy model now includes a  fourth "1" - one with the Earth

Here are some ideas any sized business can use to build on the concept of giving "one".
Just do one thing!  sponsor one child, give to one school, one day of fundraising, match one dollar for dollar, customers add on one dollar to a sale, a penny jar collection, a promotion on the first of every month.

Collectively one can become many, and one can make a big difference. The important thing is realize that even a small amount of giving back can make a difference for humanity and the world.

What is "ONE" way your business can use the number one to give back?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vintage Finds for a Good Cause

Vintage lovers and animal lovers can now indulge both of their passions, by supporting the volunteer-run business Shermancat that gives 100 pecent of profits back to the Humane Society of York County, USA.

I found out about this "philanthro-business" from one of the blogs I follow, Favorite Vintage Finds.  

Shermancat has all kinds of wonderful vintage items on their Etsy site, like tea sets and books and mirrors, clothing, spoons, hats-you name it.

This is such a wonderful intersection of business run by the volunteers, Allison and Stacey, passionate about their business while supporting a great cause that they are passionate about also.

What is a philanthro-business? Well for lack of a better name as yet,  a business that is created to support a charity, often run by volunteers, or by the employees of the charity.  Anyone who has a better term-please pass it on!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Whitening and Brightening

No doubt most entrepreneurs can attest to the importance of a strong presentation, and first impressions begin with a sparkling smile. That's why members of the Crown Council, a national association of independent cosmetic and family dentistry practices, have joined efforts to promote a three-month program, offering discounted dental whitening procedures in service of a variety of great causes.

The initiative, featuring over a hundred participating dental practices throughout the US and Canada, kicked off in March and concludes at the end of this month. It's sponsored by the Crown Council with 100% of proceeds going to the group's philanthropic arm, the Smiles For Life Foundation, where it's then divied amongst a series of children's charities, including the Kids Cancer Care Foundation, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, Children's Miracle Network and Smiles for Hope.

To learn more about the program or find a participating dental practice in your area, check out the Smiles For Life locator page right here.

For interested Bay Area readers, be sure to check in with Dr. Steve Beveridge in San Jose. Dr. Beveridge and his staff are generously donating their time, energy and resources to join the Crown Council's effort. Click here to make an appointment for a whitening or simply make a donation straight to the Smiles for Life Foundation.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Zappos: Can a Company Create Social Impact With a Shoebox?

While the purpose of this blog is to explore different ways small and large businesses can create positive social impact, I took up the challenge of reviewing the book, "Delivering Happiness, A Path To Profits, Passion and Purpose" by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. A challenge - because-how do I make a case that a very successful online shoe company with some moderate philanthropy and community involvement, by the nature of their unique corporate culture is really a great force for social good? 
 Conventionally speaking, double bottom line refers to businesses, mostly those considered as social enterprises, that measure their success both by their financial performance and their performance in terms of positive social impact. Zappos is not a conventional business and certainly would not be considered a conventional double bottom line one.  I am convinced that a company whose culture and entire business operations are primarily about the well-being of their employees and customers, can create enormous positive social impact, the kind that can become viral, contagious and can create a culture of caring about the world in general.      

It is important to place this book and its' message within the context of the burgeoning happiness movement. While there is certainly a lot going on in this area, with new books coming out every day studying or proposing methods of achieving  personal happiness, the world of business is not yet on board with this idea. Perhaps, happiness is too Pollyanish for the hard core business analysts to get behind. Only fairly recently have  several notable business and graduate schools created programs in positive organizational psychology and positive organizational scholarship that study the many aspects of corporate culture and leadership that contribute to work satisfaction and wellbeing,  language that corporate thinking may be able to relate to more easily. Even so, no matter what one calls it, happiness or wellbeing, businesses often have difficulty seeing the ROI on spending the time and money creating a culture and environment that promotes great customer service, satisfaction, and happiness in the workplace environment. This book should hopefully change that notion.  

Small and large businesses can use this book as inspiration and as a how-to for building positive teams, developing company mission and value statements, increasing employee engagement and morale, developing  a customer service training program, and so much more- even how to  have fun at work!  And as a guide for leaders -from executive washrooms to boardrooms, to the back rooms of small business, to the garages of startups-business owners and leaders can look to Tony’s leadership ideals and principles to model their own leadership styles by and to embed these principles in their companies from the beginning.  

Tony, and I believe he speaks as a collective voice of the company, has a personal mission to make the world a better place. If other companies choose to follow their example,  they will indeed create a corporate culture that cares about the employees and customers, and that will extend to caring about their local communities and about the many problems in the world that sorely need to be addressed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ecojot : Using the Philanthropic Model of Buy One Give One, Workbooks for Kids Around the World

Ecojot makers of 100% post-consumer recycled paper products donates school supplies to kids in need around the world through their corporate giving model  "buy one, give one".  For every Recycled Journal, Notebook, Sketchbook, or Calendar that is sold, they will donate and ship workbooks to children who cannot afford school supplies. Partnering with the Ve'ahavta KinderKits Program, their first shipment was sent along with medical supplies to Zimbabwe.

Originally called the Mirage Paper Co., three years ago Mark Gavin the head of marketing and his sister,Carolyn, embraced the trend of businesses taking on social responsibility by becoming more green as well as giving to social causes in the world. Mark and Carolyn  developed a  line of  green stationary made entirely from waste material that is locally made in Canada. Their products use acid-free  processed chlorine free paper, glues are vegetable based and  bio-degradable, paper is made from recycled materials, and all packaging is corn based
    Ecojot's corporate giving also supports the non-profit environmental organization Canopy, that works to protect all the world's forests, species and climate. They are proud to donate $1 from the sale of each 'bou" (as in caribou) journal to Canopy which is promoting the protection of the boreal woodland caribou an endangered species in Canada.

    Ecojot joins the inspiring list profiled here at BusinessThatCares, of other businesses that have adopted the buy one give one business giving model like Toms Shoes, and Socks for Happy People, as well as triple bottom line companies, with their commitment to people, planet, and profit such as Better World Books.

    Their products are both colorful and beautiful and can be purchased in stationary stores all over the US and Canada. You can follow their inspiring story on their blog: Jot and Dot.