Sunday, January 30, 2011

House Of Marley's Triple Bottom Line Is Jammin' With You

"One love, one heart. Let's get together and feel alright."
Those lyrics, written by Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield, could be a serious contender for the most famous ever written, right? Now Marley's family is continuing his vision of peace and love via a bold, vibrant business venture called The House of Marley, a line of branded music products inspired by the iconic singer-songwriter.

The product line, founded on Marley's trademark "love of people, love of the earth," is guided by four principles. First, their products are designed for superior quality. The House of Marley's flagship products include several lines - dubbed Jammin', Freedom and Destiny - of top-quality headphones, earbuds and docks, all exhibiting a flair for Marley funk, and built for long-term durability.
Second, everything is sustainably sourced. All House of Marley products utilize recyclable aluminum and plastics, and the wood is certified by the FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council, guaranteeing the trees were harvested via the highest standards of sustainability.

Third, the House of Marley is cause-minded. To that end, the Marley family formed a sister organization, 1Love, an organization that "puts Bob's beliefs into action" by partnering with charitable groups around the world, including the United Nations Environment Programme, the environmental wing of the UN, Charity: Water, a non-profit geared toward bringing potable water to developing countries, and The African Leadership Academy, designed to train the next generation of leaders from each of the fifty-four African nations.

Finally, the products are waste conscious, designed to keep their recyclable packaging and parts out of the waste stream. The House of Marley also encourages customers to donate their old headphones to be repurposed, thereby keeping them out of landfills.

Jump on over and check some of the fun features of both their site and the business, including the YouTube Drum Circle, the first of many interactive music experiments the House of Marley will be coordinating. This one features a soundboard of sorts that allows you to mix and match together your own drum circle beat to upload to the Internet.

With style, a strong sense of mission, and of course a love of music, The House of Marley is bringing back Bob's vision.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Deloitte's Documentaries Show How Volunteerism Makes a Difference

While this is not the first time that we have profiled inspiring films and documentaries about giving back, philanthropy, and volunteerism, Deloitte has taken this concept to a higher level of achieving impact and influence both for the non-profits and organizations that they serve as well as for their own company, by not only telling but showing how they are “Making a Difference….Differently” .

Chris Jarvis, of Realizedworth, recently posted his perspective on asking the right questions of a company's  volunteer program: Not-"how much did you do?"- but rather, "what does what you do matter?"
One would suspect that Deloitte understands the point Chris has been making, as their four documentaries  titled: Skills, Fellowship, Empower, Ready, answer that very important question of: “what does what they do matter?" as well as there own well posed questions.

These documentaries are not only self promotion for Deloitte's community involvement as they share the spotlight with the charities and organizations in these videos, so that a viewer learns a lot about each of them and their the impact to their communities. Each of these documentaries starts with the non-profits talking, followed by the stories of Deloitte's employees and their pro-bono work for each of these organizations, and a message reiterating Deloitte’s key mantra, that of adding value to the charities beyond just handing them a check.

By showing the added value of skills based volunteerism, the films provide several benefits to the charities and the company: they provide the charities more publicity and acknowledgment, good PR for the company’s community involvement programs, and they also serve as a great employee recruitment and development tool.

These are the things that matter, but beyond that Deloitte has chosen to provide inspiration to others through the use of the medium of video, showcasing them not only on their company site but on YouTube as well.

I chose to post the "Skills" documentary here because of the message that using skills-based volunteering creates the most value and has the most impact. You can watch it below and link through to see the others. Or you can see the entire documentary series at and on YouTube.

Skills: “Why is skills based volunteerism so effective in eradicating effects of poverty?”
Robinhood Foundation gives grants that help New Yorkers’ build better lives for themselves and their families. They use investment principles and apply them to measure the impact of fighting poverty. Deloitte plugged into their by dedicating one of their "fellows" with six months of full time skilled volunteering to help Robinhood with  impact measurement and their  philanthropic investment returns.

Fellowship: “How can one pro-bono fellow help provide a new sense of purpose to returning war vets?”
Paralympics is an athletic competition run in conjunction with the Olympics, for veterans with injuries such as head traumas and of the spinal cord. Deloitte‘s philosophy is to match employees with the cause that gets them engaged personally. In this case, Deloitte brought in a wounded war veteran, an employee, to volunteer with the Paralympics program as well  as to help to increase the number of rehabilitation institutes that offer Paralympic sports programs as part of their rehabilitation programs.

Empower: “How can data help create a college-going culture...and change the life of a 16 year old?”
College Summit helps kids from low income communities go to college with programs that involve peer leaders, mentorships and academic training as well as provides help with college applications and raising money for their college tuitions. As part of Deloitte’s signature commitment to supporting education, Deloitte has developed for College Summit a multimillion dollar database that has helped the organization to improve their programs and better deliver relevant information to high school and colleges. An outcome of this has been an increase in college applications and acceptances for their students and an overall 20 percent increase in college enrollment.

Ready: “Can project management really help save lives?”
California, a state with constant potential for major disasters needed a comprehensive volunteer organization. Disaster Corps, a cadre of a thousand highly trained government trained volunteers was created to address this problem. Deloitte brought in a team of advisers to analyze the needs of the program, to design the technology tools for improved project management that would help define the capacity of the volunteers, leverage their skills,and coordinate the volunteer organizations to deliver the emergency volunteer services. In essence to help California better able to respond to the eminent emergencies.

For related posts with videos:

Corporate Volunteers Get Into Gear For Back To School

Monday, January 24, 2011

Charitable Designs

Increasingly in our wired world, businesses large and small are learning the absolute necessity of a strong web-presence. But if you've ever tried to commission a website design, license a domain or contract with a host, you probably realize that the process can be a fair bit trickier than the sum of its parts. That's one of the reasons WebsitesGiveB@ck caught my eye. The Front Royal, Virginia-based family business offers creative but affordable web design services, specializing in small businesses and the service business community. For one flat rate, they bundle together the entire project: designing a five-page site, registering your domain, offering a year of web hosting, submitting your site to search engines, even throwing in a few hours of technical assistance.

But as their name implies, WebsitesGiveB@ck has a secondary mission. As envisioned by co-founders Elena Patrice and Linda Saker, the company donates about 20% of the proceeds of each web design project to a charity of the client's choosing. As Elena Patrice told me, "We feel we have a huge opportunity to help in two significant ways. First, small businesses are struggling, and we present them with an amazing service that covers virtually every base in their website design for one flat rate. We go many 'extra miles' because we want to do all we can to sincerely and honestly serve small business owners. Second, we help charitable organizations, who are experiencing their greatest decline in donor assistance ever. We summarize our efforts as the 3 C's: Company-Customer-Cause. It all works together, and that's our tag line: 'Good business and goodwill coming together.'"
According to a listing on their site, WebsitesGiveB@ck and their customers have donated to The American Red Cross, Toys For Tots, The Nature Conservancy and Special Olympics, among many others. For 2011, they have sent the ambitious goal of raising $60,000 in charitable donations.

Like many small businesses profiled on this blog, WebsitesGiveB@ck sees the relationship between business, the community and philanthropic groups as an evolving, interdependent one. As Patrice describes it, "As an entrepreneur in this time in history, 'giving back' and thinking of more than the bottom line is almost hardwired into you. For us, it was the cornerstone. Something that Sir Richard Branson stated has always stuck with me: 'With success and owning a business comes an awesome responsibility to others.' He is correct and we all need to keep this in mind."

Friday, January 21, 2011

PLEASE DON'T GIVE- Public Radio's Humorous Fundraising "unPitch" With Alec Baldwin

Time to get serious, it's my local public radio's pledge drive again. And during last year's drive I wrote about the impact of business sponsorship in matching dollar for dollar pledges. Studies have shown that indeed a business that matches pledges dollar for dollar, increases donations during the time period of that offer. It is an excellent strategy for a business to get publicity for themselves, especially in a market where there are no other opportunities to advertise, while at the same time giving back to a worthy cause.

Usually I change the channel, not wanting to listen to the dull, same old, same old appeal. But this year, while driving, I heard the voice of one of my favorite comedic actors, Alec Baldwin, with a pledge message that went something like this:
Hello, this is Alec Baldwin from television, you know television, the dominant broadcast medium of our age.
I have come here to public radio, during your sad little pledge drive with a simple message: don’t give.
Public Radio,with its' lack of hot buxom starlets, its’ deluded sense of seriousness, its’ pathetic faith that ideas still matter, it has no place in today’s current landscape of media.

Let's return all radio to its proper mission, selling advertising and making money.

So please –this pledge drive-DON’T GIVE…
Let Public Radio sputter and die a slow death….

Do nothing, do not call, do not give online.
Help me destroy public radio.
Here is someone to give you instructions on how to pledge-which you should ignore.

If you want to hear the entirety of this hilarious pitch, you can listen to it courtesy of  public radio station KPIU

So did this work? Using myself as a test case, I didn't stop the car and pull out my cell phone to dial their number and make a pledge. But I also, for once, did not change the channel.  I stayed on for awhile longer when they jumped right in with their more serious pledge drive format. 

Following this hilarious pitch came the serious pitches: an oriental rug store that was matching dollar for dollar every pledge within the next 25 minutes, and the proverbial raffle where for an "x" amount of donation you might get a chance to win a technological gadget.

We know that matching dollars works as a fundraising strategy and probably the raffles also attract donations to some extent. But I haven't been able to find any research on whether using humor works for fundraising.  

My response to the humorous approach of this appeal was that it kept me listening long enough to hear about the matching grant and more importantly ( from the business's perspective) the name and location of the business that was offering it.

If I were a business considering supporting public radio with a matching grant, I would think it a good giving strategy to have my public support follow right after Alec Baldwin's hilarious "unpitch".
At least I would know people are still listening.

P.S. Kudos to Public Radio for their idea to use Alec Baldwin as a result of this Saturday Night Live skit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wondering How Your Business Can Navigate the Maze of Giving?

Understanding philanthropy can be a maze that can confuse and discourage any business that would like to start a giving program. There are a whole lot of worthy causes out there that small businesses may have the desire to give to but don't understand the landscape of  philanthropy enough to know where to begin. While some businesses prefer to support local causes and non-profits, others would to like support organizations that address broader problems such as health, hunger, water, poverty, the environment, or world peace. And when disasters strike, like last year's earthquake in Haiti, knowing which types of donations and which charities are  the most effective at delivering aid becomes critical. 

Sometimes businesses may have a cause in mind  but are unsure of which charities deserve their philanthropy. Take for example the cause of promoting breast cancer awareness and supporting breast cancer research. With all the "pink" around in Oct. how would one necessarily know which breast cancer non-profit to give to -Susan B.Komen for the Cure or The Breast Cancer Research Foundation? What is helpful is to have a guide that anyone can use to check out the different charities and their effectiveness.

The folks at  Masters of Public have published online such a resource:  Give Smart: 25 Websites To Learn A Charity's Effectiveness and Efficiency. Their site offers the links to 25 websites of organizations and government agencies that rate charities, compile approval ratings, and unmask illegal behaviors. Small businesses can now have the opportunity to research which charities are well managed and which ones best serve their cause effectively which can help them make decisions on where to give wisely.

Joseph Morris the founder of Masters Of Business offers a basic definition of what qualifies as a charity:
According to the IRS, an organization qualifies as a charity if 35% or less of its income goes to administrative expenses such as salary and operating costs.
And he adds that:
With literally thousands of groups qualifying, it can be confusing to decide which organization to give to. Every day, the images of those who need help reach us, along with mailings, charity walks, food drives, and even guys dressed as Santa ringing a bell.
With literally billions of dollars at stake, how does the average person navigate this maze of giving?

Here are a few of the organizations that assess and rate charities using different criteria that Joseph Morris  has mentioned:

American Institute of Philanthropy- Stop here for a nationally prominent charity watchdog service whose purpose is to help donors make informed giving decisions. They rate, grade, focus on top salaries, and other hot issues in the charity sector. You can also read tips for giving wisely and hear what others have to say.a charity watchdog service help donors make informed giving decisions by rating and grading non-profit organizations.
Charity Navigator- This site works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America’s largest charities. You can browse by every category from animals to religion. There are also loads of top ten lists to keep you busy such as “Top 10 Most Requested Charities” and “10 Super-Sized Charities.” There are also tips, methodology information, and more. Be sure not to miss the blog with more in charity evaluation.lists charities by categories and evaluates the based them on their
Guide Star-The tagline of this site is “trusted data, customizable analysis, targeted results.” Recently reviewed organizations often make the list and are done by volunteers, clients, and donors. They even offer an Exchange Seal to outstanding charities.

In addition, the guide lists associations and government agencies such as the BBB ( Better Business Bureau), the IRS, the FBI, the FTC, other blogs and online reports that research and document fraud and illegal behaviors in the non-profit sector and other useful sources such as online news sites, and websites, most notably The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

This is a terrific resource where any business can find almost anything that one needs to know in order to be able make an informed decision about how best to administer their philanthropy.

Related posts you may be interested in:
Looking For a Cause
100 Books That Will Inspire Your Giving
How Not To Business Philanthropy Like Skecher's BOBS
Black and White and Pink All Over

Friday, January 14, 2011

Seven Ways Small Business Can Adopt a Socially Responsibile Attitude

As Winston Churchill once said:
"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."

Last week we posted an article about bringing a green attitude to the workplace. Thinking about ways to make your workplace more green is not only of benefit to your business it is also a great way to kick start your thinking about what responsibilities your company has to society in general and what aspects of social responsibility your business can implement.    

Okay, so having a green attitude -that seems doable. But, as a small businesses you may be scared off from  the idea of engaging in the larger concept of Corporate Social Responsibility. That would involve taking on  changes that could overwhelm you at this time. Yet, it is easy and doable for your small business to show that you care about local community needs without having to create big formal programs. Just like having a green attitude, all that you need to start is a Socially Responsible Attitude.

Here are seven areas where a small business can easily adopt a socially attitude that does not require a big commitment. And you can start with any one area and build up to adopting the others -gradually.

  1. Make a commitment to behave ethically in all your business practices.
  2. Pay attention to your local community needs and find ways to help out with philanthropy and volunteering.
  3. Be conscientious of the impact to the environment of your day to day operations.
  4. Adopt civic-mindedness. Participate in your local government particularly in the activities that have an impact on the business community and the environment.
  5. Contribute to economic development of your community as well as your own business, by joining local business associations and helping other businesses prosper.
  6. Focus on the well-being of your employees by providing a healthy, non-discriminatory workplace that treats employees fairly and that provides opportunities for growth and development.
  7. Treat your customers with respect, engage them in helping the environment and with supporting local causes.
Once a business adopts a mindset, an attitude, a way of looking and thinking about how it does business in a socially responsible way, small changes will come. Those changes will add up to making a big difference to the profitability of your business, to the benefit of your community and to the environment.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Changing Lives Through Jobs

The esteemed Los Angeles-based Chrysalis Enterprises has a fascinating "chicken or the egg" origin story. In this case, the philanthropy, not the business, came first. On this blog I have profiled a variety of small businesses that have embraced giving in various forms, but here we have a vital, successful philanthropic organization that only later spawned a business wing.

The infamous downtown Skid Row here in LA, my own proud hometown, represents one of the most challenging hotbeds of homelessness and crime in America, but that's where Chrysalis was born in 1984, founded by John Dillon, then only twenty-two years old. The organization began as a modest food and clothing distribution center serving the denizens of Skid Row, but soon blossomed into an agency designed to help homeless men and women secure jobs, tackle substance abuse and re-enter society. Offering a wide range of job readiness training - resume writing, job search strategy, computer training, counseling and case management - Chrysalis has helped thousands of clients escape poverty. Today the organization runs its original downtown offices, plus satellite operations in Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley.

In recent years, however, it has spawned a business division, Chrysalis Enterprises, consisting of three sub-divisions. Chrysalis Staffing is a full-service agency assisting with temp and work-for-hire job placements. Chrysalis Works is a cleaning and street maintenance organization that contracts with the city and regularly maintains many of the city's most-trafficked streets. Finally, Chrysalis Recycling collects recyclables from businesses, offices and schools.

Predictably, demand increased with the onset of the recession, but Chrysalis rose to the occasion. 400 clients a day received assistance at their three centers. In 2009 alone, 1,500 men and women were placed in new jobs, making, on average, significantly higher than the state's minimum wage.

Best, Chrysalis Enterprises, as you might guess, organically feeds off and yet nourishes the larger umbrella organization. The three businesses provide job opportunities for those whom the parent organization assists, and then their profits, in turn, cover 60% of the annual multimillion-dollar operating budget for Chrysalis. This award-winning model is a durable and innovative one, underscoring the effective way in which a philanthropy and its business can support one another in a symbiosis.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Business Doing Better at Doing Good- 2011 Trends in Business Philanthropy

The month of January is named after the god Janus, the god with two heads, one looking behind and one looking forward. Apparently the god Saturn, gave Janus the introspective ability to see into the past and the gift of seeing into the future. I can make no claims of having god-like abilities, but in reviewing the past year's stories and tweets, it seems that there is trend is to find newer and better ways for business to do good.

And these are the trends I see that will be significant in the year of 2011 for creating positive new directions in business philanthropy.

Using the Social Sciences to Understand the Dynamics of Giving Behavior

More and more studies in social psychology and behavioral economics have been addressing the question of what motivates people to give. Businesses hoping to use cause marketing and to engage their customers in giving, and non-profits seeking to find ways to get more value from their corporate sponsorships should tap into these research studies more. Take for example, the recent study about amusement park goers who paid more for their photos on a ride when they could choose their own price and the profits went to charity. Sceptics of the Panera Cares Business Model, (we profiled their first cafe opening, St Louis Bread Company Cares) which is an example of this kind of approach, should check out the video on CBS News.
For more research studies on consumer giving behavior check out: Ways Your Company Can Give More Bang For the Buck.

CSR's Umbrella

Last year I predicted that Cause Marketing and Corporate Giving would become more differentiated. Well I was wrong. The lines have gotten even blurrier between CSR, Employee Volunteerism, EVP, Cause Marketing and Corporate Giving. Is it more that they are distinctions or that they justifiably fall under the CSR umbrella? More and people cite all of these in the context of each other and often interchangeably. Beth Kanter suggests in her blog post.Corporate Altruism: The Blurring of the Lines Between CSR and Cause Marketing that perhaps the lines do not distinguish one fore another but that it is more of a continuum. CSR this past year has been struggling with finding a definition of itself, but more than being a continuum, I like the image of an overencompassing arc, like that of an umbrella..

Employee Drive Philanthropy

Yahoo employees do it, Blackbaud's employees do it and GiveSomethingBack's employees do it: various forms of employees recommending charities; designing the giving programs often in forms such as competitions,scholarships; sitting on the grants committee; and other forms of direct emplyee involvement.
Employers are seeing that when giving back to the community is a company grassroots effort, not only is there more by-in from the employees, more total giving in time and money, but also more loyalty given back to the company.

Skills Based Volunteering 

While providing extra hands for bagging food or assembling backpacks will never go away as an important function of Employee Volunteer Programs, more meaningful ways for employees to help communities are
emerging.  Bea Boccalandri of the BCCCC, has been advocating that businesses create more of these kinds of asset based opportunities for employees volunteering as a way for companies to provide their employees with more engaging and rewarding experiences that help build the capacity of the non-profit organization  in more sustainable ways. Skills based volunteering also serves as great employee training opportunities for the companies involved. Her suggestions may seem radical, and so she acknowledges that these changes need to be small at first and that both types of volunteering can co-exist. And she cites examples of companies like Aetna and Hasbro and Levis that have been doing so.

Directed Giving Through Voting and Liking

Using social media to involve the public in making the decision for a company's giving is going to get bigger and bigger. It's an approach that appeals to many as it can engage thousands in feeling that they can contribute in some small way by voting for their favorite charity or "liking" a facebook page, that results in an award or donation given by a business to the winner. Witness the Pepsi Refresh Project, (which I mentioned in last year's trends picks, The Classy Awards, (where two of our featured businesses, Sweets Trucks and GiveSomethingBack were finalists, and the American Express Small Business Day, where just a vote on a  website or a Facebook "like", brought about large corporate funding towards specific projects and causes.

More Public Scrutiny

As businesses will continue to involve the public in their giving programs, so will the public be more involved in the judgment of corporate giving. Witness the outcry over the Punk Buckets for a Cure, BOBS Shoes and Target's funding of political campaign. While some of the public will want to be more included in corporate giving, others like Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times (who gave us a cool shout out) may want to be left alone to their own philanthropy.
Whatever a company does, you can be sure the public will be watching to make sure that a company's giving is neither insincere, nor causing harm in any way other way, nor just plain dumb.

New Forms of Philanthropic Business Models 

While many were dubious of Panera's business model, more and businesses are coming up with innovative philanthropic business models. Even staid Nordstrom is planning to open a philanthropic department store in Manhattan with all profits going to charity. We have seen the B corp becoming recognized as a legal entity in several more states. Several forms of "buy one give one" business models, and more businesses like Panera with "set your own pricing schemes" have sprung up.
It is possible, of course, that some of these innovative philanthropic businesses will fail, but perhaps at no higher rate no than other start ups. And if so, so be it,  innovation requires taking taking on the risks of failure, but also the rewards of success and of leading the way in developing a whole new sector.

In spite of what I consider my one missed prediction for 2010, I think that last year's predictions, which you can read here, have proven to hold up and will grow to have even more importance in 2011. Business giving in partnership with consumers, non-profits and communities, will be evolving and will create better solutions to local and global problems.

I look forward to bringing more of these stories here in 2011.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bring The Green Attitude To Your Workplace

By Lisa Markum

Going green has become trendy in homes and in work environments. If you haven't caught on to this trend, it's time! This article will give you some great ideas of how to make your work environment go green. More and more work places are doing it as it helps build a better vibe in the work place and is helping the earth.

It's not an easy process to make the changes and it doesn't happen over night. With that said there's nothing wrong with going slow and make small changes to start the process.

In order to start this process, come up with a plan on where you want to begin. Start to build awareness in the work environment so people know there are going to be some changes made. Everyone's in on it together and you will all feel great about yourselves.

A good place to start is paper! We all know where paper comes from and how it's been harming the earth for many years. Most of us probably don't think about this on a daily basis, but it's the truth! Change the paper you're using!

There are many paper companies out there, so if your paper company in the office isn't ethical then find another. The first thing you should find out is if they're part of the forest certification program. Paper companies that are a part of this group make an effort to practice with higher ethical standards. You can find this on their website or by calling and asking for documentation.

Are you using recycled paper? Most packages of paper will indicate if it's recycled or not. Many paper companies use post consumer products and make paper from it. The higher the percentage of the recycled goods, the better!

If you're printing fliers, mailers or any other form of materials, look for vegetable based ink. This type of ink uses liquid from soy beans. Soy beans are very easy to grow and have been proven to release minimal greenhouse gases during their development.

Making the office a greener environment is a great idea! Employees will all love it and you will all feel great about helping the earth. Good luck!

This author loves the earth and is often found spreading her concern. In addition to writing about the environment, she also writes about home renovations and lighting. She recently wrote about bath lights and bath light fixtures.

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