Friday, October 29, 2010

100 Books That Will Inspire Your Business To Give

Recently, OnlineClasses, an organization dedicated to providing the best online educational resources, tools,  and courses for students, sent a message directing me to their blog where they posted their list of 100 best humanitarian books. Their purpose for posting this list was to provide learning beyond the classroom through books about humanitarian issues, famous humanitarians, and social entrepreneurship.

Businesses that know that they want to contribute to local and global causes can make use of these resources too, to learn more about where they would like to direct their philanthropic efforts and how to go about doing so.

I have read some of the books on this list and have found them very inspiring. I encourage any business owner or employee  that would like to start a giving program to do some reading from this or any other list (my own list coming soon!) for inspiration and ideas.

Here are some of the topics and descriptions of the 100 books, including my specific favorites.

Fiction and Memoirs
These books provide both fictional and true-life accounts of some of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.

My favorite-
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: "Want to know why Afghanistan is the way it is today? This book blends history and politics with a moving tale about friendship."

Inspiration and Education
These books are about those involved in humanitarian projects and what more needs to be done or changed to help a greater number of people.

My favorites in this category:
 Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin:  "Read this book to learn more about a man who has constructed schools and attempted to improve access to education in the impoverished village of Korph."

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz:  "Learn what this woman is doing through social entrepreneurship and charity to help those who need it around the world. "

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson: "Greg Mortenson will inspire you in this extended account of his work to build schools and promote peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Understanding Humanitarianism
Books about humanitarian movements and the laws, politics and spin that come with them.

My favorite in this category:

 Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath: Want to make your humanitarian mission succeed? Consider reading this book about what can make it stick.

Biographies and Autobiographies More information about some of the greatest crusaders for human rights in recent history.

General Non-Fiction
a variety of humanitarian topics.

By Humanitarians
Humanitarians write their own stories about their experiences.

Social Entrepreneurship
Find out more about how businesses can change the world with their ideas in these great reads.

My favorite in this category:
Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know by David Bornstein and Susan Davis: "Find out what being a social entrepreneur is all about by reading this book."

These books will teach you more about charitable actions and how to make your philanthropy count.

A BIG favorite:
Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker by Bill Somerville: Inspiring view on how anyone can become a grant maker.

Every humanitarian cause needs a little financial help to get off of the ground, and these books can help fundraisers understand the process better.

Congratulations to Online Classes for an amazing job compiling this list and for providing such a great resource to everyone who wants to learn about philanthropy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Philanthropy Competitions: Get in the Game and Win Some Money for Your Charity!

Author: Jenny Henry

Philanthropy competitions seem to be a new fad that are bringing innovative ideas to light and getting people thinking about philanthropy. Recently JP Morgan Chase & Company gave away a total of $5 million to 200 charities through its Summer 2010 Chase Community Giving Campaign and American Express is in the process of deciding on five charities that they will give a total of $1 million to in their Members Project.
Unfortunately, these two campaigns are no longer accepting entries, but there are two competitions still open. We'll give you all the details, as well as some tips on applying.

Pepsi Refresh Project
This year Pepsi decided to allocate $20 million of its Super Bowl budget to launch the Pepsi Refresh Project which will dole out $1.2 million a month to innovative ideas from businesses, individuals and non-profits that will change the world. The next application round begins on October 1st. Once ideas are approved, voting will begin to determine the best ideas. Winners will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 each.

The competition is quite intense and not all ideas are accepted by Pepsi. According to the site, projects should be "beneficial, achievable, constructive, and ‘shovel-ready' (meaning it can be finished within 12 months of funding)." If you plan on applying, be sure to read the 10 tips for applying for a better chance of having your idea accepted and be ready to submit your application at 12:00:01 p.m. EST on October 1st.

CBC Canada's Champions for Change
CBC News and Outpost Magazine have joined forces to produce a unique program celebrating volunteerism in Canada called Canada's Champions of Change. The program kicked off on Canada Day and will award two top winners $25,000 and eight finalists $10,000 for the charitable organization of their choice. To apply, all you have to do is nominate an exceptional volunteer in one of the following categories:

Education, Community & Culture - Volunteering to Foster Growth in People and Communities
Environment -?Volunteering for Mother Earth
Health & Wellness - Volunteering for Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, Personal & Communal Well-Being
Housing & Structure - Volunteering to Build and Innovate
Social Justice - Volunteering to Empower

Finalists will be determined by a panel and the winners of the top prizes will be decided by public votes. The deadline for submission is September 30, so better get applying!

Article Source:

About the AuthorWritten by: Sumac Research
Sumac is the easiest, most complete and cost-effective software for managing non-profits' data. For information on Sumac or for more articles published by Sumac Research, visit Sumac

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Your Employee Volunteer Program Ready For the Next Disaster?

Today at 10:21 A.M., businesses, schools, and households will experience a simulated earthquake drill, the Great California Shakeout. The goal of this statewide event is to  increase awareness and preparedness for the next real big quake in California. While this drill is meant to be a wake up call to the realities of where we are living, it can also be a reminder that a disaster like this in places that are impoverished will require immediate humanitarian relief  as well as long term help in rebuilding.

Last January, VolunterMatch, a great organization that helps businesses and non-profits develop their volunteer programs, forwarded their Jan.newsletter, with their featured article: "After Haiti What Your Company Can Do" . This article had specific tips and suggestions aimed at helping victims of the Haiti disaster through  their employee volunteer programs, which can be used as a template for any future disasters where a company's philanthropy program would like to help.

Their recommendations include ideas for how to raise funds, how to determine the best agencies to donate to, and how to use the many VoluteerMatch tools such as their Emergency Preparedness Map, their special Event Manager Program  for organizing company volunteers for food and clothing drives, and their Disaster Messaging Tool.

While your company is thinking of building a toolkit for local emergencies preparedness, why not think about the need to be prepared to help others less fortunate when disaster hits them?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Sweet Victory for the Sweets Truck

Here's a great example of one business' efforts garnering a sweet reward. You might remember back in April when I profiled The Sweets Truck, one of LA's hot new food trucks, this one a "mobile cafe and bakeshop," featuring delectable cookies, cakes, brownies and espresso drinks, and benefiting LA's Schools on Wheels, as well as a host of other philanthropic groups. Well, now the Sweets Truck has been nominated in the Los Angeles division of the CLASSY Awards, and they need a little help from their friends and fans.

The CLASSY Awards, in just its second year, is an awards competition started by the San Diego-based business Stay Classy, which specializes in web-based platforms for non-profits to coordinate fundraising efforts and market themselves across the web. The competition - branches of which include San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago and others - honors the top philanthropic achievements in their respective cities.

And now LA's own Sweets Truck is up for Top Small Philanthropic Business of the Year. Jump right over here to cast your vote for The Sweets Truck, and learn about some other really cool philanthropic groups all around the country.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Businesses That Care About Safe, Clean, Water -Blog Action Day 2010

While millions suffer from lack of available clean water both small and large companies, are donating money and resources to address this worldwide problem.

Today, is Blog Action Day 2010 Water, that focuses on raising awareness and creating a global discussion around the important issue of clean and safe water. The Blog Action Day site offers some shocking statistics on the impact that this issue has on human rights, the environment, technology and local economies.

Even though 70 percent of this planet is made of water, only a small percentage is safe for consumption and only 1 in 7 people around the world have access to safe, clean drinking water in good times, with that number dramatically increasing  in crisis like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Blog Action Day 2010 also supports the UN's mission to bring clean, safe water to millions. Please click on the petition below and add your voice to this worthy cause.

Every year in March (we wrote about restaurants that participated in 2009)  UNICEF's Tap Project partners with restaurants to raise funds to help bring clean and accessible water to millions of children around the world. Customers are asked to pay $1.00 for the glass of water they normally are served for free which is then donated to Tap.

And other businesses, are getting involved in supporting a variety of programs that are working  towards solutions for the world water crisis-

California-based CellarThief  a wine merchant that sells only three hand picked wines from world class wines at any given time. This unusual wine seller, donates proceeds from each bottle of wine to  the organization Charity:Water . For every bottle of wine sold, Cellar Thief  donates 100 day's worth of clean water.

Pantene Pro-V has created its  first-ever Pantene Global Cause Program, "Healthy Hair for Healthy Water"
Pantene's program can prevent 20 million days of illness and save an estimated 2,500 lives. For every  bottle purchased from Pantene will donate $0.10 to the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Fund. Ten cents is all it costs to provide a child in the developing world  one week of clean drinking water.  For more information about the charity, please visit CSDW

Dow Chemical  works with NGO's, celebrities, and other companies to raise awareness about the lack of safe drinking water in impoverished communities around the globe. This year on April 18, Dow sponsored the Dow Live Earth Run for Water –  the largest global water awareness initiative, that consisted of a series of 6-kilometer run/walks, concerts and  activities centered around.
Besides raising awareness, Dow has been helping solve the global water crisis by donating funds and materials to make clean and drinkable water accessible following disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and China. In addition Dow has been providing clean water purification systems to a variety of schools, orphanages  and hospitals in remote areas of Vietnam and India

With all the many times I have been in Starbucks, I never realized that extra bottle of water I purchased helps support  the cause of  providing children with access to clean water. Ethos® Water was created to help raise awareness about this terrible crisis. For every bottle a customer buys, 5 cents goes to the Ethos® Water Fund, part of the Starbucks Foundation. Already more than $6 million has been granted to help support water, sanitation and hygiene education programs around the world.

Small business owner/founder Suzanne Meyer Pistorius, of Blugirl Art  donates 15%  of online sales of specially selected furniture pieces, designer fabrics, jewelry and photography, to Clean Water Action.  Having grown up in Swaziland, where she came to understand the preciousness of clean water Suzanne, now in western MA, has also become an active member of Clean Water Action, helping to address some critical issues such as banning toxic BPA from children's products.

The Miox Corporation in Albuquerque creates equipment that helps sanitize water, making it safe for consumption. "As soon as we heard what happened in Haiti, it was obvious that we could help," said Matt Santillanes, engineering technician at the Miox Corporation.This led the corporation to donate over 100 portable water purifiers. Each purifier can produce 100 pounds of disinfectant per day with just adding water and salt.

Ayindisa Socially Responsible Artisan Crafts, located in Ridgefield CT,donates 15% of the proceeds of its sales of hand-woven baskets to Engage Now Africa specifically for the construction of a shallow well in a rural village of Ghana,Yarkibisi. “The construction of the well will provide much-needed clean drinking water for the village and help fight illness and disease,” said Chris Gay, the founder of Ayindisa.

Please help support this worthy cause by signing the petition below.
Petitions by|Start a Petition »

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Not To Do Business Philanthropy -Like Skechers BOBS

Skechers the athletic and leisure shoe company has recently unveiled a new line of shoes called  BOBS, a TOMS canvas shoes look alike. Not only do BOBS shoes look a lot like TOMS with the little tag and all, but Skecher's is also donating a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair of shoes bought.

So, this blog is supposed to be about "innovative ideas for business philanthropy" - with the intent of inspiring other businesses to create giving programs that can create social benefit. Every now and then something comes across my desk that leaves me scratching my head and wondering : "what WERE they thinking?!!!"

I can't presume to know what Skechers was thinking about, but just looking at this program gives one a lot to learn about how not do business philanthropy.

But first, to be fair, it's important to say a few good things about the Skechers program. They are donating shoes to a first rate non profit, Shoes4Soles, that delivers donated used shoes to impoverished areas all over the world. I wrote about Soles4Souls after the Haiti disaster here. Also on the Skechers webpage they have a link to their corporate philanthropy program, the SKECHERS USA, “Nothing Compares to Family” promotion, that ran through 2009, and starred popular celebrity families and benefits children's charities with ads breaking in celebrity weekly and fashion magazines.

There is no mention of BOBS shoes on  this page - which gives me  me a perfect opportunity to launch into the first of several  "What Not To Do's." in business philanthropy.

Don't tell your customers much about the charity or the cause you are partnering with.
When buying BOBS, there is little opportunity for a customer to learn anything about Soles4Souls and what they do. The transparency of the business giving is just as important as the transparency of the non-profit. Soles4Souls is a fabulous organization that provides shoes to disaster victims in impoverished countries and Skechers has lost an amazing opportunity to promote their mission better. To add injury to injustice when I last checked BOBS site, the link to Soles4Souls page no longer exists.

Have no  transparency.
Skechers has a brief description of their donations to Soles4Soles on their website, but there is nothing to describe how they are partnering with them and what kind of shoes they are donating, unlike TOMS which has pages of information about their philanthropy.

Don't bother to assess your business' core values.
Toms shoes started with a vision of being a philanthropic business caring about the plight of impoverished children in the world. Hard to know how Skechers came up with the idea that they cared about barefoot children. If that were part of their corporate values they might  have unveiled a broader program donating other kinds of more useful shoes, like their sneakers.

Don't do something that makes sense as good business strategy.
Coming out with a giving program that is related to you core business is a good idea, but even then, distinguishing yourself from the competition continues to be important for business success.In these economic times, no business can afford to pay little attention to using the best strategy for their business whether it ties into their philanthropy or not.

Don't tell a good story
Part of TOMS success is their utterly original and charming story that has captured the hearts and minds of the public and the media in a big way. Good stories helps inspire others, including your employees, your customers, your investors and other businesses and brings attention to your cause and to your business.


Do make everyone question whether it is a marketing ploy.
Skechers may have had truly philanthropic intentions, but the perception of this program is that it appears to be a quick marketing scheme. In the world of business, perception often becomes reality.

There are many lessons to learn from many companies and their giving programs. Often there are mistakes in the planning and execution both for businesses and non-profits.Skechers may be singled out here, but in truth corporate philanthropy, CSR, and community involvement is still quite young as a movement. Hopefully more and more businesses will learn from other successes and failures alike, and come on board to support their communities and good causes through philanthropy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why Outcome Measures For Coordinators Of Volunteers?

As a Volunteer Coordinator you regularly monitor the placement and service hours of your volunteers, the receipt of donations and success of fundraising efforts, and the activities that your volunteer programs engage in. Volunteer Coordinators have been documenting the inputs, activities and outputs of their programs for many years now.

Inputs are those things that are put into your program. They are things like staff, staff time, money, equipment, supplies, volunteers and volunteer time.The contribution of resources by your partners may also be considered an input. Inputs also include constraints on the program, such as laws, regulations and requirements for funding.

Activities are those things that the Volunteer Program does to fulfill its mission. Examples of Volunteer Program activities might be:
  • Referral of volunteers to non-profit agencies
  • Training of area Volunteer Managers in professional Volunteer Management techniques
  • Sponsoring projects that impact the critical social needs of the community.

Outputs are the products of the program's activities. What actually got accomplished?
  • How many hours did the volunteers serve?
  • What was the contribution of the partners?
  • How many people were reached, tutored, mentored, # of kits made, etc.

In the past, Volunteer Programs, like many other human service organizations, did not track what happened to the volunteers that were referred after the placement. We might know how many hours a volunteer has spent at his volunteer activity, but we do not know how this volunteer activity has changed or helped the agency in which he was placed. How has this volunteer service benefited the volunteer? This is where the measurement of outcomes comes in.

Outcomes are the changes or benefits that have happened to the agencies in which you have placed your volunteers, benefits to the community, and to the volunteers themselves. How have the populations, which you have served, changed their behaviors, skills, knowledge, attitudes, values or conditions? It is the impact you have had on your community.For example: A neighborhood clean-up campaign

Outputs - These are your Accomplishments
  • #of organizational meetings
  • # of participants
  • # of volunteer hours served
  • # of blocks cleaned

Outcomes- This is the Impact that you have achieved through your project.
As a result of the neighborhood cleanup campaign 90% of community residents surveyed reported reduced exposure to safety hazards in the neighborhood and an increase in community pride.

When writing outcome measures be sure to:
  • Use measurements when determining your outcomes
  • Use measurements and standards that are straightforward and easy to understand
  • Be specific- avoid general statements

Outcome measures clearly state how your program has made an impact and benefited your community. But what are some other ways that we can use this clear and focused information?
  • Recruit and train talented staff
  • Enlist and motivate volunteers
  • Engage collaborators
  • Retain or increase funding
  • Demonstrate innovative efforts
  • Gain favorable public recognition

Outcome measures can also help your Volunteer Program to improve its programs and services by:
  • Identifying staff and volunteer training need
  • Develop and justify budgets
  • Prepare long-range plans
  • Focus Board member's attention on programmatic issues

The demonstration of program impacts has become increasing crucial in the quest to prove Volunteer Program effectiveness. Federal programs as well as many private funders require human service agencies to measure and report on their outcomes.

Good Luck! You will find with a little practice and patience, the Outcome measures described here will be a useful addition to your Volunteer Program.


About the Author
Devorah Vineburg is the lead staff professional at the Volunteer Center of Brown County, Green Bay, WI, in the areas of training, consultation and technical assistance to nonprofit agencies. Her website Crafty Community Connections located at is an excellent resource of ideas for craft and volunteer service projects that can be donated to local people, agencies and charities as a community service.It is a great resources for crafters, kids, teachers, scouts, youth groups, Sunday Schools, parents and friends. The website is updated each month.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SunPower Powers Up Giving Back

Two high tech companies in Silicon Valley, SunPower and its parent company, Cypress Semiconductor, gave a significant donation, a million dollars worth of solar panels to the headquarters of Second Harvest Food Bank  last week. The significance was not only in the million dollars, but also in the ongoing effect that the donation will have on reducing the operating costs of the non-profit.

In a news report on KCBS Radio, Sunpower CEO Tom Werner said: “SunPower has a great opportunity at our core as a company to build a great company and, we believe, to change the world. We think one of the ways we can change the world is to give back and Second Harvest is a great organization at giving back. So we get to accomplish our mission as a company.”

He added that this is not just talk but a tangible double gift to an organization that gives to the community.

While SunPower's contribution was over $400,000, the other $700,000 came from Cypress Semiconductor. Cypress'  CEO, T. J. Rodgers saw the added value that a tangible donation of this kind would create for the charity: "If you put solar on the roofs, it reduces their costs and in turn they can serve more meals. In the lifetime of the system it translates into over 6 million  meals."

Second Harvest Food Bank  provides meals to over 200,000 people a month in the Silicon Valley area, and the number of meals served have been dramatically increasing in the last year. 

              Some interesting ideas here-changing the world and giving back- as is SunPower's stated mission.

Not only are these two companies philanthropic, but they are finding ways to help the charity do what they do better. Add to this the positive effect on the environment which translates into powerful impact on the community, locally and globally. It's also an incredibly innovative way to align SunPower's core business with their philanthropy. Bravo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

CSR and Consumers in Shared Social Responsibility

With all the recent controversy about Corporate Social Responsibility, including the latest debate sponsored by Fenton, one important factor notably missing in the discussion is the impact of customer decision making behavior on corporate giving choices.

In a recent study: "Shared Social Responsibility: A Field Experiment in Pay-What-You-Want Pricing and Charitable Giving" by Ayelet Gneezy, Uri Gneezy, Leif D. Nelson, Amber Brown published in Science Magazine, July 2010, customers at an amusement park were given choices for how they could pay for souvenir photos of their ride on the roller coaster.
When customers were given the choice to buy the souvenir photos where half of the profits would go to charity, they seldom bought the package. On the other hand, when another group was offered to buy the photos and pay what ever they wanted, knowing that that 50% of the profits would go to charity, sales almost tripled.

It may make no "business sense" to offer any kind of" pay as you want" program, and certainly Panera bread and other businesses which we wrote about in an earlier post  have been doing just that. Yet customers, seemingly, are willing to pay a lot more to the company when they feel part of the Corporate Giving. The authors of this study suggested that:
"Switching from corporate social responsibility to what we term shared social responsibility works in part because customized contributions allow customers to directly express social welfare concerns through the purchasing of material goods"
The critics of CSR seem to not have taken into account the factor that consumers want to feel that they are sharing in the opportunity to give back . If companies question whether their responsibility to shareholders is more important than their responsibility to their communities, maybe they should take their shareholders out to the amusement park.