23 January 2009

Generation (G)enerosity :: a new generation of consumers with new demands

Trendwatching.com's latest report, Generation G, highlights the increasing importance of Generosity in the minds of consumers.  Frustrated and disgusted with the greed that has left our economy and spirits crippled, consumers are raising expectations from companies and demanding more than an annual CSR report.

The report says, "Generation G captures the growing importance of 'generosity' as a leading societal and business mindset." 

Generation G identifies 3 drivers for Generation G:

1) Recession & consumer disgust
2) Longing for institutions that care
3) For individuals, giving is already the new taking, and sharing is the new giving

And 8 ways for corporations to join Generation G (b/c recycling coffee cups and donating to a non-profit is just not enough anymore) 

1) Co-Donate partner w/ your consumers to make a bigger impact
2) Eco-Generosity go beyond just offsetting your damage
3) Free Love give valuable stuff to your consumers for free, online & offline
4) Brand Butlers go beyond one-way advertising
5) Perkonomics benefits for those special customers
6) Tryvertising let your customers try your products in relevant environments
7) Random Acts of Kindness send a note, a coupon, a gift, samples, etc. 
8) (F)rigid No More accept returns, recommend competitors, use the Golden Rule

Take a look at the report for some great examples of which companies are successfully executing some of these new ideas. 

16 January 2009

Best & Worst Cause Marketing Campaigns of 2008

I recommend anyone interested in one of the companies below, or cause-marketing in general, take a minute to read through two posts on the BEST & WORST cause-marketing campaigns of 2008 from my favorite cause-marketing guru, Paul Jones at Cause Marketing:

Check out the original postings for Paul's quick and insightful analysis of why the campaign made the list:

1. TOMS Shoes
2. Rosa Loves
3. LJ Urban
4. Chili's Create-A-Pepper 
5. MDA's electronic "paper icon" campaign
6. Internet-only telethon for our troops
7. Cartier's Love Bracelet
8. KivaB4B
9. Plus 3 Network
10. Cigna
11. P&G Pampers & Unicef

1. Cookies for Kids Cancer 
2. HERO Campaign (Tampax)
3. York Peppermint Patties (ad in Elle)
4. Partners for a Cure (Kimmie Cares)
5. UN World Food Programme campaign w/ Drew Barrymore
6. Home Depot & Habitat for Humanity
7. Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss's Bikinis
8. PR agency Ketchum's "Food 2020" survey
9. Harry Slatkin lighters & Bath & Body Works
10. Nestle's GoLife
11. Henkel

08 December 2008

Last Week in Numbers

70% reduction in deforestation over the next 10 years is announced by Brazilian government

$5.99 to 6.99 a bottle for Green Earth Technologies' Motor Oil made from animal fat. This isn't new, back in April, Tyson Foods announced plans to produce up to 250 million gallons of renewable fuel a year from animal fat

4.6% annual growth expected in green packaging

1.4% increase in US greenhouse gas emissions in 2007, after a 2006 increase

1/3 of toys tested found to have medium to high levels of toxic chemicals. Not a problem for Bratz anymore...

0 financing - Bank of America takes a stance against companies that extract coal through mountain top removal!

01 December 2008

Internship Opportunity :: Community Development Group Internship

Strategic Development Solutions

Company Description

Company Description

SDS creates innovative business and investment strategies that foster economic opportunity in low-income communities and promote positive environmental impacts.  At the investment level, we create and manage Double and Triple Bottom Line private and public equity funds, in our pursuit of market-based social and environmental solutions.  At the community level, we provide capacity building and funding strategies to community and economic development entities serving low-income communities.

Through its Community Development Group services, SDS seeks to empower community and economic development entities serving low-income communities to be more innovative, effective, and sustainable agents of social and environmental change.  Financially, we seek to help our clients become self-sustaining by strategically identifying and pursuing needed funding.   Operationally, we help clients incorporate business strategies that improve their effectiveness and efficiency.  For more information about our work, visit our website at www.SDSgroup.com.


Position Descriptions

Organizationally, SDS is comprised of three distinct, yet complementary, divisions to achieve our underlying social mission: Fund Development, New Markets Tax Credits, and Community Development Group. Currently, SDS has a unique and rewarding internship position in its Community Development Group division. The intern will work as part of a team on active client projects, which may include:

§       Researching public and private funding prospects

§       Writing grants

§       Evaluation and impact reporting

§       Creating outreach/marketing documents

§       Editing and drafting various project documents, attending meetings, or other relevant research projects

SDS' internship program provides exposure to the breadth of its services.  We aim to create a mutually beneficial experience via applied projects and challenging work that will add value to our clients, our company, and to the career paths of young professionals.  SDS is committed to giving its interns an opportunity to learn and work on substantive projects and to providing resources and tools for interns to enhance their career knowledge base and professional development skills in and outside of the work environment.  Stipends may be available to top performers only after the first three months of the internship period.  Work experience with SDS can also be used to obtain course credit.



SDS is seeking an individual to assist with its Community Development Group client projects.  Qualifications for the internship program include the following:

§       Highly-motivated

§       Efficient, organized, and responsible

§       In the process of acquiring an undergraduate degree, at a minimum

§       Interest in the social and human services, underserved/low-income communities and populations, community and/or economic development, philanthropy, grantwriting, public policy, or urban planning

§       Strong research, analytical, writing, and computer (esp. Excel) skills

§       Able to work in a professional and dynamic work environment

§       A commitment to a minimum three-month internship (15-30 hrs per week)


How to apply

Please e-mail resume with a cover letter and a writing sample (no more than 10 pages) to Julia Elrick at jelrick@SDSgroup.com.


Contact Information

Julia Elrick

Strategic Development Solutions

11150 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 910

Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: (310) 914-5333 ext. 218

Email: jelrick@SDSgroup.com

Website: www.SDSgroup.com

*sorry, I have no idea why everything in this post is underlined!

23 November 2008

Attaining Growth through CSR: Impact, Information & Relationships

Stakeholders are the new brand managers.

This was the title of a slide presented to the Pepperdine Net Impact chapter tonight by Jeff Hittner, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for IBM. This declaration cuts to the very core of the CSR movement that I have recently been considering. In the past month I have been fortunate enough to visit Patagonia Headquarters in Ventura, CA, attend the Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia, PA and listen to Mr Hittner tonight on the West LA campus. Throughout the month I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight from some of the foremost thinkers in the space. Tonight was a chance to reflect on the journey.

Mr. Hittner began his discussion by explaining the role CSR plays within IBM. Currently IBM has a 150 million dollar endowment for strategic philanthropy. The idea of strategically using CSR to further promote the values and culture of a company was an area of focus throughout the night. Specific to IBM this strategic CSR can be found in 5 different areas: health care, economic development, arts and culture, corporate volunteerism and the environment. Each of these areas has the potential to further the mission of IBM to develop a "Smart Planet."

One of the most innovative programs implemented by IBM, in my opinion, is a Corporate Service Program. This is IBM's version of the Peace Corps and sends employees to six emerging markets to work on problems related in developing IT in these markets. Employees participate in a 6 month engagement, 1 month in the actual country. I believe this program is ingenious in that it helps satisfy the employees' thirst for service, provides great PR for IBM and allows them to be first to market in these markets which could become major players in the future. Overall the program has been a resounding success with 5000 internal applicants for 100 spots. Hopefully in the future they will continue to expand the program so that it will reach many more people in the organization.

One of the primary problems surrounding CSR is that there is a disconnect between the company's expectations and the consumer's expectations on what a robust CSR program should entail. To this effect, IBM realizes that is necessary to perform exhaustive studies on the subject so that it can better serve its shareholders and predict the future CSR needs. This is evident in two studies: IBM's Global CEO Study and their CSR Perception Study.

In the CEO study, IBM interviewed 609 CEOs across the nation. Greater than 75% of these companies had market caps larger than 500 million dollars. From this study, IBM attempted to deduce the current state of CSR within established organizations. 69% stated they believed CSR has a positive aspect on customer expectation of their organization. They identified one of the primary cost saving opportunities as employee retention. The additional CSR efforts causes a lower amount of turnover and reduces the resources required in training.

The CSR study was even more robust. It focused on three areas of CSR: impact on business, information and relationships. In terms of impact on business, CSR can be seen as moving from a cost to an investment. As companies explore more and more opportunities to be socially responsible, they see their efforts as an investment in both the social welfare of their shareholders and the equity of their brand. Considering information, CSR seeks to move from visibility of a company to transparency. Mr. Hittner expressed this idea as it is better to be open from the start than pried open by those who inquire. Finally in regards to relationships with stakeholder's, it is necessary to move from containment to engagement. Previously companies sough to contain their stakeholders, but the proliferation of new media and the Internet has caused a shift in companies focusing on getting it right from the start and engaging those who have a stake in their business, from the environment to the consumer to the employees.

Mr Hittner illustrated how a company must move through the stages of CSR. While it is not necessary to start at the bottom of this progression, this is where a majority of companies find themselves. The first step is "legal compliance." Companies in this stage are doing the bare minimum in an attempt to not get fined or penalized by local, state or federal governments. The next step is "strategic philanthropy" This is state in which companies donate money in an attempt further an agenda. This stage is followed by "values-based self-regulation." In this stage companies begin holding themselves to their values. This is when CSR begins to become a part of the DNA of the organization. IT is something in which they pride themselves. The next stage expands on this notion. The "efficiency" phase is characterized by using CSR to cut costs while maintaining the values they have promoted in the previous stages. For example, Mr. Hittner gave the example of the agricultural industry measuring the wetness of their fields prior to watering. This allows them to water only the necessary areas, increasing the efficiency of the organization. The final stage is developing a "growth platform." While Mr. Hittner understands there is still much work to be done, he pointed to the example of the Corporate Service Corps as a CSR initiative within IBM which is at the "growth platform" level of CSR.

The future of CSR Hittner attributed to predictive analytics. In the digital age, there is a tremendous amount of data on all aspects of life. The next question becomes how do we use this data to our advantage. How do we parse through information to make predictions on how to be more responsible as corporations? Mr. Hittner gave the example of IBM's 40,000 suppliers across the world and how based on raw data they are able to target specific factories for audits to make sure compliance is being held to the high IBM standards.

These are questions that we, as business leaders of tomorrow, will be faced with on a regular basis. No longer will there be the excuse of ignorance on these issues. We must be informed on how our impact affects our stakeholders. While attending business school, our practice is highly theoretical. We are preparing for the day we are able to make decisions which will affect the course of corporations. In this vein, I picked up the book "Click," by Bill Tancer, which focuses on online research and the insight it can provide. It is my hope that everyone reading this post will take action, in either their career or personal life through becoming aware the decisions we make affect many. The corporate social responsibility movement I have been immersed in over the past month is real. There are many very intelligent people working towards a common goal: to leave the world a little better than we found it.

-Frankie Warren

18 November 2008

Reflections on the Conference: Adam Sever

The 2009 Net Impact North American Conference, which took place November 13-15, 2008 at The Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania was truly the most enlightening experiences of my life.  I never thought that I would see a group as intelligent and passionate about social causes as I witnessed at the conference.  It justly supported my belief that Corporate Social Responsibility is a fundamental part of any business model that hopes to succeed in the economy of the future. 

I think it is important to note that Net Impact, and its conference, is not just a society of “Green” business professionals and intellects.  The word that is more frequently used, but is often inappropriately believed to be synonymous with “Green,” is “Sustainability.”  Sustainability does not just address care for the environment.  It is also concerned with business practices that benefit all long-term stakeholders (Community, Employees, and Stockholders) in a company.  As we suffer from the aftermath of the banking industry’s meltdown, which I believe was the result of an over emphasis on short-term gains, the importance of sustainable business practices have become especially important to me.  Therefore, many of the seminars I chose to attend focused on social responsibility issues rather than ecological issues.  Seminars such as: (RED) Harnessing the Power of Business for Sustainable Change, Getting Your Social Venture Off the Ground, and Just Good Business: Aligning Corporate Responsibility and Brand offered great evidence of what Fortune 500 businesses and emerging companies are doing to change the world for the better, while maintaining respectable profits.

I would recommend the Net Impact conference to ANY business student, because, as mentioned earlier, all business leaders will need to confront the issues of ecological sustainability and sustainable business models if they hope to succeed in the new economy.  I cannot wait to build upon my knowledge next year! 

Adam Sever