Sunday, February 27, 2011

The ABC's of TED's Mission

TED is a non-profit and social venture that has captured a lot of excitement and interest around the world.  Thousands of individuals, businesses, philanthropy, education and causes have benefited from TED's mission of spreading knowledge, information and ideas.  Many social entrepreneurs have spoken at TED and companies like Socks For Happy People, which we have profiled here, promote the TED talks, as a source of inspiration. The TED Fellows program helps support innovators  from all around the world in pursuing their projects with the goal of helping them achieve more impact in changing the world.

I was having lunch the other day with a friend who is a licensee for TEDxYouth. She was about to go to the pre-conference for licensees before the big TED conference 2011 in Long Beach, which starts Feb. 28th and runs through March 4th. We were brainstorming ideas about how to describe the value of TED, more specifically the value of  "Spreading Ideas", and even more specifically the value to young people, who are being exposed to ideas everyday in schools already. We were throwing around a bunch of different words, like "inspire others", "change the world"- although very true, but somewhat stereotypical and overused.

So I decided to ponder this question some more and started to brainstorm a list of reasons why I think the ideas at TED conferences are truly worth spreading.

Their mission, that of "Ideas Worth Spreading"  does so much more than spread just ideas, it spreads everything from-well-from  A to Z.

Action. More and more people are crediting TED for their taking action and helping them to start a career, a business, a non-profit, or a movement. Check out the TED conversation: Has TED Talk ever influenced you? 
Brains. There is scientific evidence that learning something new develops new neural pathways in brains.
Creativity. Many of the talks at TED are about the creative process and truly inspire others in their creative endeavors. Elizabeth Gilbert's talk is one of the most popular TED talks of all time, certainly one of mine, and has personally changed my relationship with my creative process.

Discovery. The world has so many wonders that not even all the TED conferences can bring them to light, but it is a great place to go find them.
Energy. A really good idea generates energy that builds momentum around it and spreads like wildfire. 
Fun. Yes, let's have more fun, and see others have it too! Gosh I couldn't stop smiling when I watched the young Bollywood dancers at the TEDxYouth conference I attended.
Genius or Greatness. ( it's a tie) There is something special about being in the presence of greatness. It really does rub off a little.
Health. Bill Gates keeps coming back to speak at the TED conference about his idea of eradicating malaria- Ideas truly can help save lives of millions of people.
Influence. A good idea can influence important people or masses of people to create change.
Joy. Pure joy of feeling alive and part of the wondrous world.
Knowledge. By definition, knowledge is the acquisition of facts and ideas. So by spreading ideas, TED also gives the opportunity to gain knowledge.
Love.What's love got to do with it? Well philanthropy is the love of mankind and you can just feel the love for humanity and for what it can be at TED.
Motivation. Motivation, the drive that keeps people going in spite of obstacles, after they get inspired.
Newness. Bringing together ideas that are new and fresh that spark innovation.
Opportunities. Opening up all the possibilities that any one person can do.
Power. Ideas give people the power to take action. Look at the power of democracy.
Questions. The more you learn the more you ask questions, and the more you learn.
Results. Ideas are provocative in that they motivate people to achieve results.
Society. Great societies have been built on great ideas. Just think about the United States and how it was founded based on some fundamental ideas and principles.
Truth. Embedded in ideas are truths that are fundamental to life.
Understanding . How the world works and what humanity is about.
Well-being. Studies have shown that well-being around the world is based on such factors as freedom, learning, health, work, security. TED helps spread ideas about well being around the world and how to achieve it. 
Values. Many of topics at TED touch upon important values like peace, kindness, and helps spread them.
X-explore. Ideas give the opportunity to explore the world and to learn about ourselves and others.
Yes! Positive attitudes like enthusiasm and excitement for new ideas. As the world seems to become increasingly more cynical, its wonderful to see enthusiasm for such a broad range of ideas.
ZZZ's You can sleep better at night knowing that there are people out there doing amazing and wondrous things to make the world a better place to live.

Thank you TED for making the world a better place to live by spreading ideas that are worth spreading-and so much more, even if you have heard it a thousand times.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Miner Miracle on Union Square-Where Giving is Fashionable

While many businesses are popping up with philanthropic purpose, more and more philanthropies are starting businesses to fund their operations.

No, the word miner is not a misspelling, but the last name of a social entrepreneur, Karen Miner, who has founded a non-profit and a philanthropic business that supports its namesake charity A Miner Miracle.

Tony, touristy Union Square in San Francisco is often a contrast in images of homeless people blending in with tourists and high end shoppers. Amidst the Saks Fifth Ave and Nieman Marcus quadrant stands A Miner Miracle SHOP, that features designer clothing such as Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor and others offered at enticingly discounted prices and which is also a home base for the non-profit bearing the same name.

I stumbled upon this shop when I was staying at hotel in the area for a business meeting. This gave me the great opportunity to meet the founder of the non-profit and supporting business, Kathy Miner. Kathy gave me an on the spot interview that gave me an insider's view of her mission to help low-income men and women re-enter the workforce by dressing them for success.

The non-profit came first. In a former life, Kathy had been in the fashion retail industry and walked away from it swearing " never again" as she looked to do something more meaningful in her life.  Using her expertise in  clothing and image consulting for professionals, Kathy launched the non-profit, A Miner Miracle in 1995  that would give that same kind of service to a more disadvantaged population.  She first began the operation in a rent free storefront with roll down security gates on the edge of the Tenderloin district, where many of these clients lived. In order to fund her mission she operated a modest clothing store on the site, manned by volunteers and recipients of  the program. Overhead was low, all profits could go towards supporting the charity. 

With the boom, that area was developed into the trendy SOMA, with stores like Bloomingdale's, upscale hotels and restaurants, museums and hip condominiums. Jokingly to me Karen said, "never say never", she went back to her beginnings in the fashion industry with the challenge of scaling up and opening a clothing boutique in the most popular shopping area of San Francisco.

While visibility in the new location is greater, so are the operating costs. Kathy did not hide the fact that this model of social venture has challenges. Although she negotiates directly with the design houses, which helps Kathy keep the prices low, the rent is low and she now has to employ her sales people. The further challenge comes when the profits need to be plowed back into maintaining the quality inventory.  

The store site still continues to serve the dual purpose being a thriving business that has a philanthropic mission and as a home base for the nonprofit, where the services have expanded beyond men and women to include young adults and in transition youth. It also serves as the headquarters for fund raising for the charity through special events and as a channel of creating public awareness.

Kathy's picture of herself  as she received the“Oprah Angel Network” award proudly hangs on the wall in the store above the cash register. While seeing the photo with her and Oprah is inspiring, seeing on the website, the heartwarming photos of the clients before and after their image makeovers, can only prove how a "miner/minor" miracle is a major one for everyone involved.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How Small Businesses Can Light Up on International Philanthropy Day

This Mon, Feb 28th is International Corporate Philanthropy Day (ICPD) organized by the CECP, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. The purpose of CECP is to help recognize the important role of business in society, and while its membership is offered to large corporations engaging in both local and global philanthropy, small businesses can take example and ideas from this organization for their own philanthropic initiatives.

The Empire State building and other tall buildings and landmarks across the country will be lit in the blue and green colors of  CECP on ICPD, and representatives of CECP will ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Why not have any company or business organization in any community toll a bell, put up blue and green lights, and honor International Corporate Philanthropy Day!


While the membership of CECP  consists of large corporations and their corporate giving programs such as: General Mills, Intel, Western Union and many others, the goals of CECP is to have these companies set an example for others. The tradition of inspiring others to give began  when Paul Newman founded the fledgling enterprise Newman's Own. As his company grew so did the charitable giving, involving a number of other companies that participated in Newman's Own's projects.

Eventually in 1988, Paul Newman started CECP with the goal and mission, as stated on their site: " to inspire and challenge today’s business leaders to find innovative ways to fulfill unmet social needs, to lead the way towards better alignment of business and social strategies, and to serve as business ambassadors of inspiring business leaders".

There is just as many examples of the philanthropy and giving of small companies in local communities and examples of innovation that are solving local social needs, as there are of large corporations. It has been our mission  here at Business That Cares, to highlight the best of them.


There are many opportunities and suggestions for companies to take advantage of on International Corporate Philanthropy Day on CECP's site. These suggestion's are equally suitable for both large and small companies.
    • Join peers in your community for collaborative philanthropic activities.
    • Tell your company's story about your philanthropic initiatives, by publicising and communicating  with the public.
    • Post your company's support of causes on your website or through social media.
    • Display banners or posters of the charities that you give to at your business.
    • Recognize your employees that have volunteered for a cause.
    • Engage your entire company in a planning session for your philanthropic programs.
    • Set up a grant program for non profits to apply to.
    • Plan a charity fair in your community. 
    In addition, ICPD can be a great day to have your business employees volunteer for a worthy cause, whether it is local or a more global one. 

    For more ideas for innovative ideas for business philanthropy check out some of these posts:

    Can Your Business Give Back and Do Social Good?
    Giving Bears, Kids and Heroes 
    Charitable Designs

        Thursday, February 17, 2011

        Text Messaging and Marketing for a Cause

        Author: Marti Barletta

        Like most marketers, I am scrabbling up a steep learning curve regarding the possibilities of text messaging marketing. So I'm always happy when I find an article that schools me on a good way to use this new communication channel in a way that enhances a brand's appeal to women. To build on the TextBoard author's thinking, I thought I'd add a few comments clarifying how a company can be most effective engaging women via a program using this innovative new channel.
        First, keep in mind that cause marketing is especially likely to resonate with women, who are more responsive than men to a company's efforts in this area. In fact, Cone Marketing, the leading researcher and agency expert on Cause Marketing, says:
        "By all measures, moms lead the way as the demographic most amenable to cause marketing. In fact, moms virtually demand the opportunity to shop with a cause in mind. A staggering 95 percent find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88% average), and 92 percent want to buy a product supporting a cause (vs. 81% average). They are also more likely to switch brands (93% vs. 80% average), so it is hardly surprising that moms purchased more cause-related products in the past year than any other demographic (61% vs. 41% average)."

        By the way, 80% of women are moms, so you can pretty much read "moms" as "women.'" And comparing them to "average," which includes both men and women, substantially understates the variance from men. The point difference would be roughly twice as high if they did it properly. See more specific study data on trends, industries, shopping attitudes and cause marketing program structure here.
        The TextBoard article, which is gracious enough to mention my gendertrends principle "corporate halo," outlines three approaches companies can take to implement a text-for-charity program:
        1. The company chooses a charity that all customers can contribute to.
        2. The company rotates among a different charity every month, which might be more likely to maximize participation, since different customers can spark to different causes.
        3. The company offers a choice of charities, which the customer can pick among.
        Text-for-charity contributions are a great way to polish up a corporate halo, although because it's new, text messaging is just starting to get traction with consumers, relative to other channels. And from a marketing point of view, their three alternatives make a lot of sense; at first glance, it might seem hard to choose among them.

        Interestingly, though, recent research shows that consumers have a strong preference for supporting companies that commit to a charity on their own, rather than doing "charity of the month" or "multiple charities." Cone Marketing reports:
        "At a time when consumer voting campaigns have emerged as the cause marketing tactic du jour, a majority (61%) of consumers say they would prefer to see a company make a long-term commitment to a focused issue rather than determining themselves which issue the company supports in the short-term."

        In my opinion, the company that picks a cause conveys that this is something they actually care about, which is what serves to humanize and personalize the company. Allowing consumers to pick the charity, or even having a revolving list of charities, comes across as a marketing incentive. It says, "The company doesn't care what you pick - you can give money to whomever you want."

        In choosing a charity to support, I do think it's ideal for the company to find one that has some clear linkage either to what the company does (the article gives an example of a realtor that supports Habitat for Humanity) or some personal connection to the company's leader. If the company seeking to shine its corporate halo finds itself with no obvious choice, my advice would be to do a little research. Cone provides information on what percentages of people support various types of charities (health research, environmental, educational, etc.). And there's no reason a company couldn't ask a sample of their customers to vote on a select few options as input to the company's decision on which to support.

        Two elements about a texting campaign that people should keep in mind are that 1) to activate it, the program needs to be communicated through more conventional channels; and 2) to have credibility, the company itself needs to make a commitment to the charity, not just facilitate a way for consumers to make donations. Print, TV and website communications need to introduce the effort, explain why the company has chosen that charity, explain what the company itself is committing in support of that charity and assure consumers that the company has vetted the charity to confirm the money will have major impact in helping people.
        I'd also like to add one additional way for a company to get a lot of appreciation for which I think text contributions are extraordinarily well-suited - better than any other medium. This is the contribution to help victims of a natural disaster, like the Haiti earthquake or the floods in Pakistan. Because many people are already looking for a way to help (i.e., built-in "speaks to everyone"), the fact that a company can facilitate their contributions through a channel with immediacy, like texting, is important and appreciated. The way a company can add to that is to get out the message that they, too, will be contributing in some way. During the winter of 2009, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ran an online program in which they donated a box of "The Cheesiest" to hunger relief organization Feeding America for every click on the webpage or tweet with a hashtag – a program that could easily have been implemented via text messaging. – and today, probably would be.

        I'm appreciative for TextBoard's article, which started me thinking on the subject of text messaging and cause marketing. It's certainly a niche with great potential and avoids the distasteful feel of advertising through text messages.
        You've read several suggestions in TextBoard's and my articles, but cause marketing is really centered on what your company is passionate about. So get creative! And put some heart into it!

        Marti Barletta
        The World's Foremost Speaker on Marketing to Women
        CEO, The TrendSight Group,
        Trends and InSights on Your Best Customers: Women
        Article Source:
        About the Author

        Marti Barletta is the world's foremost speaker on marketing to women. She is the author of the groundbreaking book, Marketing to Women, now available in 17 languages, and co-author with Tom Peters of Trends. Her newest book, PrimeTime Women, shows how marketers can tap the unprecedented buying power of women in their prime to drive sales and share. A Wharton MBA, Barletta founded The TrendSight Group to help companies get smart about women. Her consulting clients have included Allstate, Deloitte Consulting, Ford, Frito-Lay, GE Appliances, Logitech, Volvo and Wachovia. As the recognized international authority on women, Barletta has been quoted on CBS, ABC and NPR, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company among others worldwide. Her dynamic style, command of her subject and lively sense of humor have made her a popular speaker at hundreds of corporations and conferences.

        Monday, February 14, 2011

        Ways Your Business Can Act Kindly

        Last year on Valentine's Day I posted one of MY favorite posts: What's Love Got To Do With Business Giving. This year I have learned that Valentines's Day is also the first day of  Random Acts of KindnessWeek.

        While the debate of whether business should  incorporate CSR, was a big news item this past year, imagine how superfluous and very un-businesslike the idea of incorporating  "love" and now "kindness" may seem in the domain of business practices, while cynics surely think business acting kindly is an oxymoron. Yet I hear about restaurants that give leftover baked goods to local food banks, or shoe repair shops that collect old shoes to repair and give to the needy. Businesses like Panera Bread,  pay as you want cafe,  have sprung up this year whose business models are basically based on  kindness.   

        One doesn't need to change or create a whole new business model to be kind and give back. The point of the Random Acts Of  Kindness Week is more about stopping to think about being kind to others in small, perhaps unplanned and spontaneous ways. While I encourage small businesses to create plans for their giving so that they can have a more strategic and long term  impact on their communities, the idea of a short period of time where spontaneous acts of caring towards others in the community, towards employees and customers; where giving back in simple yet direct ways, connects everyone with the real meaning of philanthropy, "love of humankind"  more readily.

        This is one area where small businesses have an advantage over  big corporations, in that they see in their day to day operations the needs of their community and their customers and can act on them more readily and spontaneously.

        Throughout this blog there are hundreds of tips and suggestions for giving and for acts of kindness that any business can use this week, or any time. The organization, Random Acts of Kindness offers their list of ideas for businesses to try.  Better yet, if your business is considering developing a giving plan, try to include a week of spontaneous giving like this one into the future. Can you measure the impact of this? Maybe not.
        But, your employees will be happier in the workplace, your customers will appreciate you all the more and your community will be a better place to live and to do business, at least for one week.


        • Collect goodies for children to donate to city service workers (e.g., police, firefighters, animal shelter).
        • Send floral arrangements to senior centers, nursing homes, police station, hospitals, etc. near your office.
        • Collect goods throughout RAK Week (or during the whole year) for a food bank or shelter.
        • Give coupons for discounted or free goods to schools to use as incentives for their kindness programs.
        • If your office has a RAK Week committee, put out a memo to your staff asking for volunteers to help plan and implement the next campaign.
        • Donate a percentage of your revenue for one day to a group in need.
        • Donate flowers to a meal delivery program.
        • Take up a collection to purchase items needed by a nonprofit organization.
        • Plant a Kindness Tree or Garden on the office grounds. Ask the mayor to give a brief presentation at the dedication.
        • Organize a blood drive dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness.
        • Sponsor a Random Acts of Kindness mascot to circulate, distributing gifts and suggestions for acts of kindness.
        • Hand out suggestions for random acts of kindness to each customer or client, and offer a nominal discount in exchange for their pledge to do an act of kindness.
        • Give away the first $10 of purchases on a given day or pick a couple of days during RAK Week to do this.
        • Set up free coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for your employees.

        Have some ideas for acts of kindness and giving in your workplace, random or planned, please share  them here!

        Friday, February 11, 2011

        Good Causes Matter to Consumers

        Does a  customer prefer to buy from a company with social purpose or from a similar one without any obvious support of a good cause? How would they know which businesses support a good cause?

        Recent studies from Edelman's Good Purpose Study 2010 , have confirmed that businesses with social purpose have a marketing advantage with consumers. Over 66%  of customers prefer to buy products from those businesses that support a good cause over similar products in quality and price even when such things as brand loyalty and design are taken into account. More interestingly though, in the 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, consumers, 278 million of them want to know how a company is supporting a good cause.

        While consumers are becoming more aware of businesses partnering with causes through cause marketing, like Pepsi Refresh, and KFC, Pink Buckets For the Cure (see our thoughts about that one) most aren't aware of which companies exist that have integrated a good cause or have any form of social purpose embedded in their business practices, whether it be a portion of profits donated to charities or products made of sustainable materials, or any other form of support of a good cause such as we have profiled here. Some of these social purpose companies have achieved the brand awareness of Newman's Own or Whole Foods and have thrived as a result.

        Along has come an organization, that certifies this new type of business called  B Corporations. Through the non-profit B Lab, businesses that are founded with the intention and the social  purpose of  solving social and environmental problems are certified as B Corporations, better known as B Corps, much the same way as Fair trade coffee and other products are certified.

        The parent B Corps/B Lab organization has recognized the problem with consumer recognition of these kinds of companies. They are addressing this desire and interest of values-driven consumers to buy from companies with a social purpose with a "better way to do business campaign", targeting ads in magazines published by Ogden Publications, such as Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, Natural Home and Herb Companion and in online communities like The B Corp ads promote the idea that "when you buy from  a certified B Corp you are supporting a better way of doing business." They believe that it is time to build awareness of this movement and to highlight these companies so that consumers can make an informed decision.

        So in this ad for Better World Books vs. a regular online bookstore the reasons for buying from them are featured, including the giving back millions of dollars to support the good causes of literacy programs and libraries. I might add myself, that as much as I like the "other" online company, shopping with Better World Books is an amazing experience.

        The real question is how mainstream can and will this trend go? Can all kinds of consumers, become more conscious of their choice to support businesses that give back and do business in a more sustainable way? Certainly cause marketing has been banking on this. But will we be seeing advertising for companies that have embedded social purpose in their business advertising in mainstream media and as Google ads? More than likely if these companies succeed as businesses and can afford it, they will -witness the TOMS shoes advertising that is all over the place.

        See B Corps designated businesses that we have featured at Business That Cares, including great interviews with their founders: Better World Books, Pura Vida Coffee, GiveSomething Back and GoodCapital

        Tuesday, February 8, 2011

        How Corporate Philanthropy Can Influence Your Business

        How Corporate Philanthropy Can Influence Your Business

        Author: Thaddeus Bodemann

        The term corporate philanthropy refers to the act of giving things away to non-profit organizations, grants, resources or simply monetary donations. Of course, the individuals giving away these things are a part of a big company or corporation. Philanthropy is a word that is used to describe an act of kindness. Basically, businesses that engage in these types of actions are considered to be kindhearted places. One great example is Cadeau Express, a private company in Las Vegas. Mr. Ramon Desage formed the company not ony to earn but also to help the people in Lebanon and Las Vegas.

        Businesses that choose to employ this corporate giving attitude can benefit in many different ways from their actions. These businesses will increase their reputation amongst the general public, and also begin to attract new consumers to their business as well. Remember, the more consumers that you can attract the more money you can expect your business to make.

        Businesses that choose to help out their communities will increase their employee retention rates significantly as well. Bear in mind that happy employees will increase their productivity levels and go above and beyond to ensure that your store is always operating in tip top shape.

        When companies opt to engage in this giving activity their shareholders will begin to build a level of confidence in the business. Be aware that the shareholders that invest in your business hold a lot of power in their hands. They want to ensure that their money is being spent in the right places, therefore companies that engage in giving back to the community can expect their shareholders to give back to them in the process.

        A lot of people and business owners, including Ramon Desage, believe that the only way to give anything back to the community is to spend money on the people that reside within it. Even though everyone loves being given money, businesses do not have to give away money in order to show their community that they care. Businesses can choose to give away other things such as the utilization of their facility for community events, their services, or form employee volunteer groups for the people that work for them.

        Businesses large and small are implored to engage in some type of corporate philanthropy activity at least once per month. Most large businesses tend to wait until the holidays come around before they start giving back to their community. However, if you want to increase your overall annual sales rates you will elect to engage in giving activities throughout the entire year. All this you will learn by following Ramon Desage.
        Article Source:
        About the Author

        Thaddeus Bodemann is an entrepreneur who has a great passion for helping people and his community. He is a follower of Ramon Desage - philanthropist/entreprenuer.

        Friday, February 4, 2011

        Can Your Business Give Back and Do Social Good? Richard Branson Challenges Entrepreneurs

        It's almost been two years here at Business That Cares that we've been featuring businesses and entrepreneurs that have taken on the challenge of blending philanthropy, giving back to community, and social responsibility with their business models.The purpose has been to use  these stories as inspiration to others who are planning to do the same.

        Richard Branson, is not the head of a small business, by any means, but he is personally engaged in philanthropy and has embedded corporate giving throughout the culture of his conglomerate of companies, and especially through Virgin Unite, the foundation that works towards revolutionizing the way businesses and the social sector work together for social good.

        At a charity event for Center for Living Peace in Irvine, CA, Branson challenged entreprenuers to think differently: "to change their way of thinking as to running their businesses, make them a force for good, not just a force to make money."

        Branson, joined by another successful entrepreneur/philanthropist  Rob Dyrdek who said of Branson that " his principle and school of thought and his entrepreneurial spirit has inspired me."

        And so, for more inspiration, check out this original video of the event by aol.smallbusiness.

        (My apologies for the annoying commercials at the beginning of the video. But the video is worth watching not only to hear Richard Branson's message, but also for seeing his " pirate for peace " outfit.)

        Tuesday, February 1, 2011

        Name Your Love On a Box of Chocolates and Help Change the World

        Check them out here 
        Tie in a holiday about love with a really great idea for philanthropy and you will win more than just one heart.

        Usually Valentines Day comes upon us suddenly and we run out to grab a a box of chocolate or some flowers last minute-at least at my house.  It's less than two weeks away til Valentine's Day, but this year, it is not too soon to think about giving one's valentine the message that one cares about them as well as about helping a worthy cause. All orders for hand crafted, organic and  fair trade chocolate, from a socially conscious  business, Full Circle Exchange, are customized with a personal label on the box of the name of the recipient must be in by Feb.4th. (now extended to Feb 7th) for Valentine Day deliveries.

        But these chocolates show that not only that you care about them but about a worthy cause as all profits go to CARE, to help women and girls around the world to lift themselves out of poverty.

        Full Circle Exchange is a socially conscious company that sells fairly traded, organic coffee, tea, and chocolate with a mission - to "Promote Justice and Cultivate Good"™. They have a full line of Care tea, coffee, and chocolate that supports the non-profit CARE in their programs for women as well as other products where percentage of profits are donated to worthy social justice causes