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Sometimes Top Down Is Needed

Posted by Donna Callejon on October 18th, 2010

 

Three seemingly disparate events prompted this post (in order of occurrence):

1. A trip to NYC from DC on Amtrak

2. Attending the Women’s Sports Foundation annual gala dinner

3.  Walmart’s announcement of their global commitment to sustainable food and the Heritage Agriculture program

In different ways each of these  remind me that leadership and “top down” commitment can have dramatic positive impact on the economy, people,  the planet, and the world.  GlobalGiving is built on the premise that “bottom up” solutions need air time and support, and can often be more impactful than “central planning.”  I agree.  But we also recognize the reality of the power of large institutions to make change happen fast.  At scale.  If leadership is committed to change.    What do these three events tell us?

Amtrak is essentially a monopoly in rail transportation in the United States. Despite whining about its sustainability, it’s website says, it “operates a nationwide rail network, serving over 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces on over 21,000 miles of routes, with more than 19,000 employees. It is the nation’s only high speed intercity passenger rail provider….”

But – hello! – they can’t put some recycling bins in their trains?  Seriously. I found myself arriving in NYC, and then 24 hours later in Washington DC, carrying my newspaper, magazines, and empty water bottles back to my office so that they could be recycled.    Here’s what Amtrak says  on their embarrassingly un-updated website:  “By the end of 2009, all café and lounge cars throughout the Amtrak system will have a receptacle designated for collection of plastic and glass bottles as well as aluminum cans.”  Except I traveled on Amtrak on October 12th and 13th, 2010.  No recycling bins.  GlobalGiving has 30 people. We are able to figure out how to recycle.  Kimpton Hotels have figured it out.  Even WMATA, the much aligned Washington DC metro overseer, has Newspaper recycling bins in each station.  It’s about top-down commitment and leadership.  Don’t just say it on your website.  Do it.  Consumers care.

In my short trip to NYC  I attended the Annual Salute to Women in Sports, held by the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF).  The WSF was started by Billie Jean King about 35 years ago.  In those days women who participated in sports were somewhat of an anomaly.  And Title IX had just been passed.  And Billie Jean was an icon.

I was a Title IX baby for sure. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t participate in high school and college sports.  But I have Billie Jean King, Donna De Varona and a small cadre of risk-taking leaders to thank for my life-influencing exposure and involvement in organized athletics.  Not everybody loved them. They were called “amazons.”  They were told they should stay home and take care of their husbands and children.  But they took a stand and used the power of their positions and pushed.  Influenced.  Set the table for amazing athletes and women like Mia Hamm, Annika Sorenstam,  and Serena and Venus Williams.  Leadership.

On Thursday of last week, Walmart’s announcement of its enhanced commitment to sustainable agriculture raised some eyebrows, mostly from the skeptics.  But as long ago as 2007 Michael Strong posited that Walmart’s decisions regarding the broader global community could have significantly more lasting impact than its detractors care to admit.  With the largest retail global reach on the planet, and incentives to executives to follow the sustainability mantra, Walmart could conceivably alter the prospects of thousands of family farms around the world.  And this decision comes from the top, just like its promise in 2005  to 1. To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, 2. To create zero waste,  and 3. To sell products that sustain our resources and environment.

Are they there yet? No.  Are they continually defying expectation and making changes that have unmeasurable ripple effect? Yes.  And it’s all been driven from the top, starting with an epiphany the CEO of Walmart had on a trip overseas.   They have been on a march to impact ever since.

Sometimes it takes a visionary or risk-taking leader to move an organization, or a society, forward.  And equally, those in power who fail to take action and “make change happen” are destined to be remembered for their weakness and inaction.

The business of business is increasingly philanthropy.

Posted by Donna Callejon on July 29th, 2010

Ideas about the role of corporations in society have changed a lot in the past few years. Twenty years ago, many corporate executives believed that “the business of business is business,” and that social issues had no place in corporate management.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts rarely went beyond an occasional employee volunteer day or a glossy report.

Today, the outlook is entirely different. Realizing that corporate responsibility matters to customers, employees, and investors, forward-thinking business leaders are making social and environmental sustainability a priority.

From improving energy efficiency to raising labor standards for overseas workers, companies are making corporate citizenship an integral part of their business strategy.

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE), a new GlobalGiving partner, advises and trains companies on sustainability and CSR. Registration is now open for CSE’s September workshop, a unique course designed to teach practical, implementable CSR techniques.

GlobalGiving’s corporate clients are at the forefront of new trends in corporate philanthropy. With our help, Dell has refined its philanthropic strategy, ensuring that its corporate giving reflects its vision and goals.

Nike has used our platform to facilitate employee giving, helping employees donate to organizations meaningful to them.

Pepsi and Neutrogena are incorporating philanthropy into marketing campaigns, linking their products to high-impact social projects around the world.

At the CSE workshop, GlobalGiving will share learnings and best practices with the next generation of CSR professionals. Participants will learn about cause marketing campaigns, trends in corporate philanthropy, sustainability reporting, and more.

Participants will leave the workshop with skills and competencies necessary to incorporate sustainability into business plans, benefiting not only their companies and investors, but also their local and global communities.

The GlobalGiving community (that’s you!) qualifies for a 15% discount when registering. Use the discount code “GlobalGiving.”

More information.

Donna Callejon is GlobalGiving’s Chief Business Officer.

Hayden and Vanessa – GlobalGiving’s new BFFs for Change

Posted by Donna Callejon on July 21st, 2010


On Saturday, GlobalGiving’s new partner, Neutrogena, launched an awesome multi-media campaign called “Wave for Change.”  Vanessa Hudgens and Hayden Panettiere are the spokeswomen for the products involved in this campaign and they – along with GlobalGiving SVP of Operations Jennifer Sigler – hung out in Malibu to announce the program.

Here it is in a nutshell.  For the next month Neutrogena will contribute a dollar – up to $200,000 – for every one of two signature products purchased.  Those products are the Wave Sonic and their Pink Grapefruit Acne Wash.   The funds will go to support three projects on GlobalGiving that match up with Neutrogena’s teen consumers’ interests: Environment (assessing impact in the gulf), rebuilding  in Haiti, and girls education in Senegal.

A centerpiece of the campaign is letting Neutrogena fans and customers decide how the funds are allocated among the three projects…and this is being done in a creative way via Facebook. “Voters” score the importance of several actions (e.g., recycling, building self-esteem) and based upon their responses, one of the three projects is selected.

As a life-long user of Neutrogena products, I was personally pretty excited about this.  Not thinking of myself as at all into beauty or fashion,  last night I found myself at the uber-trendy Soho House in Manhattan, having dinner with the head of PR for Neutrogena, their awesome team at RPR Communications, and ten “beauty and teen bloggers.”   There was a lot of enthusiasm for the campaign, and it was a great chance to spend time learning more about how a big brand like Neutrogena makes decisions to do something so wonderful with its brand dollars.

Like the Pepsi Refresh Project, this is not being run out of a corporate foundation.  It’s a marketing campaign based upon solid consumer research.  While 15 years ago it was a theory, data now shows that consumers do make buying decisions based upon whether or not the companies whose products they buy do something positive to impact the world.  And it matters if the causes align with issues that their particular set of consumers care about.  For Neutrogena’s teen consumers those issues match up with the projects they selected to support via GlobalGiving.

As always, we are psyched and honored to work with fantastic companies like Neutrogena.  And because of this, I might just have to watch High School Musical or Scream 4.

More about AIDS, lipstick (and World Cup) from our friends at M•A•C

Posted by Donna Callejon on June 28th, 2010

 

Last week my colleague Lisa wrote a nice piece about opportunities to support organizations leveraging sport to address social problems around the world.  Well, as much as I love Lisa, she was topped by our friend Nancy Mahon from the M•A•C AIDS Fund, who really lays it on the line her her Huffington Post piece Battling HIV/AIDS in South Africa One Goal at a Time.

For years, HIV cases in South Africa have been disproportionately concentrated among women and girls. In sub-Saharan Africa, young women between 15 and 24-years old account for 75% of total HIV infections. In South Africa specifically, a young woman is four times more likely to be HIV-positive than a South African young man…

And M•A•C has been addressing these issues since 1994.  They make grants in the US and in 66 additional countries.   And they have one of the most successful cause marketing programs in history with their Viva Glam lipstick.  Yes, lipstick is helping people with AIDS around the world.   With Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga front and center, 11 MILLION lipsticks have been sold.  And here’s the best part. Unlike programs that contribute $1, or even 10% per product sold, 100% of the purchase price of Viva Glam products goes to fight HIV/AIDS.  Think about what one lipstick purchase ($14) can do:

In the US…

  • Pay for 2 emergency boxes filled with non-perishable food
  • Fund the printing of 15 copies of “Tips to Eating Well with HIV/AIDS” booklets
  • Buy 18 personalized birthday cakes to be hand-delivered to a person living with HIV/AIDS on his/her birthday
  • Buy 1 week’s supply of groceries (about 4 bags of food) for 2 clients

Internationally…

  • Provide support and education for 5 pregnant women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS giving them the tools to prevent transmission to their unborn child
  • Provide 2 children with 2 meals per day at Noah’s Ark for 1month
  • Buy 1 pair of school shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS

Not bad for a tube of lipstick.

Nancy makes the following important point in her post:

Much of the press coverage around social issues in South Africa over the past week or so has focused on the high AIDS rates but few have mentioned one of the largest drivers of the disease — sexual violence against girls and young boys. All of the AIDS education in schools and billboard campaigns in the world will not effectively tackle the South African AIDS epidemic unless we create and support programs that honestly confront this national and international sorrow.

So whether it’s sex trafficking in Atlanta (see A Future Not a Past) or the stunning statistics on rape in South Africa, there is much to be done by individuals.  And progressive companies like M•A•C.


Maryland Teen Raises over $3,000 for fuel-efficient stoves in Rwanda

Posted by Donna Callejon on December 16th, 2009

Reposted from www.reliefweb.int

15 Dec 2009
Local Teen Raises Over $3,000 for CHF International’s Fuel Efficient Stoves Program

Spencer Brodsky, a Maryland teen, has raised $3,300 for CHF International’s Fuel Efficient Stoves program in Rwanda through Global Giving’s Give More, Get More Challenge. Through social media, Spencer encouraged hundreds of like-minded individuals to give to CHF through Global Giving, who were matching donations by adding a matching percentage to however much grassroots donors raised.

For over two years, Spencer has been working with CHF International raising money to provide fuel-efficient stoves to disadvantaged communities in Africa. His current focus is on raising funds for a fuel-efficient stoves project in Rwanda, designed particularly to help with the many orphans and child-headed households in the country, a legacy of the 1994 genocide. The fuel efficient stoves help youth because they don’t have to work as hard or travel as far to collect fuel, which frees up time for studying or working to earn an income for their families. The program is also working to end deforestation and introduce fuel efficient stoves to protect local habitats there..

Thanks to Spencer for all of his hard work helping the environment and families in Rwanda! To see Spencer’s website click here www.stovesforrwanda.com

“I feel any individual, adult or teenager has the ability to facilitate positive social change.” -Spencer Brodsky

Spencer, we couldn’t agree more!

International Giving Can Be Tough for Companies, but…

Posted by Donna Callejon on December 7th, 2009

 

Last month the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (“CECP”) published its annual report on corporate philanthropy, “Giving in Numbers2009.”  This is one of the reports we look forward to seeing each year, as CECP is very highly regarded and counts among its member CEOs of many of the leading global corporate citizens, including several of GlobalGiving’s corporate partners – Applied Materials, Gap, Inc.,  Hasbro and PepsiCo, to name a  few.

CECP describes itself as the only international forum of CEOs and chairpersons pursuing a mission exclusively focused on corporate philanthropy. The Committee’s membership consists of more than 170 executives who lead the business community in raising the level and quality of corporate giving.

The ~60 page report is actually pretty easy to digest, but here are some highlights:

  • Even in challenging economic times (and giving overall being down in 2008), 53% of surveyed companies increased giving from 2007 to 2008;
  • Among the 53% of companies that gave more in 2008, non-cash giving increased by a median of 29%;
  • Improved contributions tracking, beyond-budget disaster-relief giving, and strong profits through the third quarter were among the reasons cited for increased giving;  And  interestingly,
  • Financial results are not statistically linked to corporate giving, as corroborated by Giving USA.

The minor mentions of “international giving” are highly noteworthy, as they continue to emphasize the barriers and difficulties many U.S. companies identify:

Frequently cited challenges in expanding global giving include: developing local issue expertise, vetting NGOs, U.S. Patriot Act compliance, and building local community partner­ships. The complexity of receiving tax deductions for international dona­tions can be an additional deterrent. Cultural differences among employee attitudes toward volunteerism and charitable giving can also hinder global giving initiatives.

Companies also face hurdles in accurately measuring giving abroad. Pockets of international giving may be unrecognized because the tools and communication channels needed to record them accurately have not matured. Still, international giving is a growing priority as business globalizes.

We are glad that we’ve been able to help many companies address these challenges.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Nike and Gap have been able to engage their employees globally and create equity worldwide in workplace giving – not just for disaster giving but every day
  • Symantec has funded a great strategically-aligned program in Pune, India through GlobalGiving, providing them a way to find grantees and receive the tax deduction they need
  • Intel has sponsored the Technology and Innovation Fund and we have worked to establish very specific deliverables with the implementers – tracked by GlobalGiving -giving Intel the measurement/impact assessment it desires and a platform to engage other stakeholders.

We feel privileged to work with some of the most creative companies around.  And we’re always up for working with more. :)

 

Do You Believe in Life After Love (and War)?

Posted by Donna Callejon on November 16th, 2009

 

In her 1998 worldwide number one hit iconic superstar Cher asks, “Do you believe in life after love?”  But these days that memorable line could be amended to add “…and war?”

For years Cher has been a visible and unabashed advocate for ensuring that women and men who serve our country are honored through policies and programs that lift up their heroism and ensure their dignity, both during deployment and after they return from combat.  She has demonstrated this commitment  by supporting organizations from Operation Helmet to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and by performing at USO events.  In 2006 Cher appeared on The Ed Schultz Show to discuss her work in support of U.S. troops fighting abroad, as well as returning veterans. Schultz noted her involvement with both Operation Helmet and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which is building a center to serve military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those severely injured in other operations, as well as in the normal performance of their duties, combat and non-combat related.

Now Cher is creating her own non-profit, The Heroes Project. The mission of The Heroes Project is to improve the care and protection of heroes through individual support, community empowerment and systemic change. Through this organization, Cher will continue to support heroes through service and advocacy. The organization works closely with many of the leading military and veterans organizations and aims to leverage their work, rather than duplicate it.

GlobalGiving has been very fortunate to help facilitate a portion of Cher’s philanthropic activity, by working with her philanthropic and advocacy advisors to facilitate the funding of the Shikamana School in Kenya.  Now, we are working together to raise funds for The Heroes Project, kicking it off with an amazing auction currently running on eBay. In this auction, Cher is generously donating three sets of tickets and a backstage visit (with champagne) to the highest bidders.  All the proceeds will go to The Heroes Project.

So if you believe in life after love and war, and you want to combine your love of music and an icon with doing something good – bid now – you only have three more days!

Reminded Why We Do This Thing Called GlobalGiving

Posted by Donna Callejon on September 29th, 2009

Last Friday the GlobalGiving office looked like a college freshman boy’s dorm room, albeit with fewer beer bottles around. We were in this stacking, dumping, pizza-box mode as we prepared for a move to our new office space.  We are moving because we have outgrown our existing space – thanks to increasing donation volume, support from our capital funders, and because we have been able to attract an amazing number of free or almost-free “interns” who are in transition.

And into this chaos stepped Dennis Gaboury, one of the top finalists in our recent Global Open Challenge, and founder of ZimKids.

ZimKids is not a 501(c)3, and had never done any formal fundraising before last month.  Dennis is a sculptor whose wife was on a Fulbright in Zimbabwe when he started volunteering his time working with orphaned and sick kids…and morphed into an amazing social entrepreneur.    When they started the Challenge they just hoped they could find 50 people and $4,000 worth of donations and get on the site permanently.  What they ended up with was more than $30,000 and over 120 donors, and third place in the Challenge.

But the real gift of Dennis’ visit was not hearing about how they succeeded in the Challenge.  It was in hearing about his experience in Zimbabwe, and his love for the kids he works with.  Rather than being in constant survival mode these 160 kids now have a radically transformed day-to-day existence, lengthened life expectancies, and more chances for economic self-sufficiency.

Dennis is the type of social entrepreneur that motivated Mari and Dennis to start GlobalGiving, especially representing those who have no other way of raising tax-efficient charitable funds in the U.S., and his visit was a welcome break in the packing.  More importantly, it reminded us why we do what we do – whether in our old crowded dorm room space, or our new, slightly nicer home.

A Grassroots Alternative to Carbon Offsets

Posted by Donna Callejon on April 22nd, 2009

Originally posted at HuffingtonPost by our co-founder, Dennis Whittle

When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like the carbon-intensive industries are likely to face either a tax on carbon or a market for buying and selling emissions allowances in coming years. But it is not just power plants and large manufacturing facilities that contribute to climate change. All of us are accountable for some level of emissions–begging the question, how can you account for what your organization produces?

A popular answer is carbon offsets–essentially funding a reduction in emissions or increase in carbon storage somewhere so that you can continue emitting carbon here. Although offsets have been widely embraced, the actual amount of carbon kept from entering the atmosphere is often questioned. OK, it will help plant trees. But where? By whom? And will they live the 20+ years necessary to accomplish their offsetting purpose?

An alternative for skeptics is to fund projects that have received the climate-friendly “Green Leaf” designation on our online philanthropic marketplace, GlobalGiving. Our site features smaller environmental and social projects from around the world, letting you find opportunities you would not otherwise discover. Project leaders post detailed project descriptions so donors can see exactly what they’re funding. And donors on GlobalGiving can see directly the difference their donations are making through updates from the field.

Instead of quantifying offsets, we are encouraging individuals and organizations to take responsibility for their own emissions by helping these projects expand their reach. And, we are able to promote a much broader range of projects that address climate change. For instance, a project in Ecuador teaches tens of thousands of children about climate change and ways to combat it. We can’t translate this into tons of carbon, but it can result in a future generation of green voters, consumers, and policymakers. Other projects from the Environmental Foundation for Africa are working not only to provide solar electricity to schools in villages in Sierra Leone, but also to train technical school students in their installation and maintenance.

Encouraging the Third World to keep walking the same well-trodden carbon intensive path is ultimately unsustainable. As David Wheeler and Kevin Ummel of the Center for Global Development report, if nothing changes in the global South their cumulative contribution to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will exceed that of the North within the coming decades. That means that even if developed countries cut their carbon emissions to zero, developing countries will face the same future–rising temperatures, more droughts and flooding, more frequent and intense storms, changing weather patterns.

And there’s no better time to donate to GlobalGiving Green projects than now – the Give a Little Green campaign is matching donations to these projects by 50% through April 28th or until matching funds are exhausted.
Thanks to Bill Brower for the research supporting this post.

To blog or not to blog

Posted by Donna Callejon on April 2nd, 2009

We’ve been on a bit of hiatus, trying to figure out if anyone actually reads this blog and how to make it useful to the GlobalGiving community at large.  The silence has been deafening.

So we’re throwing ourselves at the mercy of our handful of blog readers and asking the two- part question (pay attention lest you miss the two parts):

1. Should GlobalGiving have a blog and

2. If so, what would be worth your time reading?

Let me duck so I don’t get bombarded with the thousands of instantaneous comments.

Seriously, what do ya think?