Category Archives: CSR

CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility: Companies of all sizes are considering how their work impacts the world around them, finding innovative ways to contribute positively.

CreateAthon Case Study: District 5 Foundation

When we concocted the idea of CreateAthon all those years ago, we were careful to identify the kinds of organizations we believed would be best suited for our 24-hour pro bono model. That list was pretty simple: a candidate had to be a private, 501© 3 organization, as opposed to a governmental agency, church or school. So when we got an application from the District Five Foundation last year, we weren’t quite sure what to do with it. Wasn’t it a school district program? Wouldn’t that break the rules? Upon closer inspection, we learned the Foundation was indeed a private, nonprofit organization in good standing, comprised of parents who were dedicated to raising money for all manner of important educational initiatives that otherwise would not be publicly funded.

Color us intrigued.

We learned that in just a few short years, the group had raised upwards of $60,000 annually to deliver some really impressive programming, resources and experiences to District 5 faculty and students. Their goal was to up their game, reaching the $100,000 fundraising mark annually. 

The communications issue was two-fold: 

1. Nobody understands why a Foundation is necessary in the public school system (aka “I pay taxes, enough already”).

2. Nobody understands why a gap in public school funding is everyone’s issue, and what’s at stake if we don’t fill that gap (more well educated students yield a better workforce, better leaders, and a stronger community).

We understood the intellectual value of what these folks were trying to do, but we knew the message could be a real yawner. What absolutely set us on fire, however, was the passion of the parents who were in involved in this gig. So we got our 24-hour game on.

Here’s a quick look at how we addressed their objectives.

Nomenclature and identity: After the necessary research, we determined the organization needed to be called what it was. No time or budget for cutesy conceptual names.  The ever-magnificent Maria Fabrizio developed an identity that put FIVE front and center.

Brand strategy: We developed a comprehensive message platform based on the thesis that District Five Foundation is the only organization that can move beyond the confines of public education budgets and deliver the kinds of advanced learning experiences students and teachers deserve.  It’s all about getting past barriers and making things happen.

Website: Our fellow Weconians, truematter, rose to the challenge yet again and led the way toward a web site that distinguishes the Foundation’s work and makes it imminently clear how people can get involved. 

Development strategy: We helped the Foundation diversify its development plan by developing engagement opportunities for four different giving audiences. We also outlined tiered giving levels, with engagement opportunities for specific audiences and initiatives.

Social media: Keely Saye and team worked their digital marketing magic, delivering a buyer persona study, content strategy, keyword research and editorial calendar to fuel social media growth and web site traffic/engagement.

A year later, we’re told the CreateAthon work has significantly helped the organization raise its profile within the community and attract new levels of support. Specifically, the Foundation is on track to exceed its fundraising performance from last year, which will allow it to bring more, different, and better educational opportunities to students and faculty.

We think that deserves a high Five. 

In Pursuit of Purpose

We had to see it coming: Aaron Hurst, founder of Taproot Foundation and the guru of the pro bono movement, has moved beyond inspiring us to share our professional skills as a means to social good to building an entire economic sector around doing work that matters.

Aaron’s new gig is CEO of Imperative, a cadre of social entrepreneurs, product developers, economists and all-around brilliant creative minds. They’re on a mission to create a fully functioning Purpose Economy by 2020. The bottom line? Helping people and organizations uncover, activate, and monetize work that leaves a mark on this world — and making a good living doing it.

I got a preview of this big fat idea last winter, when I attended the first-ever Global Pro Bono Summit, hosted in NYC by Taproot. Our last exercise was to figure out – in 15 minutes, no less — how to transform the pro bono marketplace into a $20 billion economy by 2020. We burned up some post-it notes on that, let me tell you.

Those close to Aaron knew he was already at work on the Purpose Economy, writing a book while making the transition to Imperative. Ever watchful for news of the book release, I noted the announcement by Imperative just this past week of the Purpose 100, a compilation of people throughout the world who are deemed to be “transforming our innate need for meaning into the organizing principle for innovation and growth in the American economy.”

In a culture obsessed with the “awards season,” it’s refreshing to see people recognized for their bravery, creativity and tenacity in pursuing something larger than themselves.

I encourage you to spend a few moments with this list and consider the ways in which these remarkable human beings have channeled the talents, experiences and relationships they’ve cultivated in their lives into a force for good.

Then get out a sheet of paper and start looking for your purpose. It’s there, just under the surface, waiting for you.

The Fast Route to Instant Recognition

What if you could instantly tell if a business is enlightened?

Organizations that recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility are part of what I’m now calling the Enlightened Economy. These companies have emerged from the Great Recession with a more considered perspective on how their business impacts the world.

We all know national brands who make social responsibility central to their messaging; among them Subaru, Newman’s Own and Kashi. Yet many local businesses and national corporations’ efforts are invisible. What lost opportunity.

The National Recovery Administration, fighting unemployment and deflation during the Great Depression, asked employers to shorten hours and raise wages. Participating businesses, from JC Penny to Gillette to the local hardware store, put the blue eagle in shop windows and on factory doors. Americans were asked to boycott businesses that did not participate.

While the blue eagle only lasted a few years, what a powerful example it sets. What if we could tell who was doing their part, who had grown wiser from the days of corporate avarice? The right logo could make it happen. 

For more detail about the NRA, listen to NPR’s “Planet Money.”

New Work: Doing Pro Bono, Pro Bono

Inspired by the American Bar Association’s Celebration of Pro Bono, our friends at Taproot Foundation wanted to create a global celebration of pro bono, skills-based service across all professions. They chose last year’s Global Pro Bono Summit as the birthplace for their movement. As business leaders gathered to discuss the increasing viability of the pro bono ethic across industries, Taproot rallied the troops. Summit attendees were quick to demonstrate their enthusiasm, and in that moment, Taproot’s idea became a worldwide movement.

Wave that flag! The new Pro Bono Week logo embodies the spirit of skills-based volunteerism.

As lovers of all things pro bono, we were thrilled when the folks at Taproot asked us to develop Pro Bono Week’s brand identity. Ryon Edwards and Nate Puza collaborated on a design that captures the essence of the movement: Proud. Spirited. Visionary. The energetic yellow-orange reflects the contagious positivity of that moment last year when Taproot first unveiled their ambitious plan, and the flag bearer dares every participant to think big. Pro bono is no longer a nicety. From now on, it’s serious business.

Like the movement itself, the Pro Bono Week logo is a call to action.

 

Ryon's mockups demonstrate how the logo might be used with the official Pro Bono Week hashtag.

Putting pro bono to work.

 

 

10 CreateAthon Secrets Every Volunteer Should Know

  1. Bring PJ’s. When you work all night, changing clothes a few times helps.
  2. Washing your hair at 5am helps you power through the last few hours. Also, your hair may look like you’ve combed it with a porkchop. I know this to be true.
  3. Bring tissues to every presentation. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, you will.
  4. When you can’t make a decision, get another opinion. If it’s 2 a.m., get an intervention. Remember: “Think about it. Decide. Move on.”
  5. Try to eat healthy. Staying up all night is tough. It’s harder when you’re full of chocolate, cheezy poofs, cookies, Red Bull, popcorn, coffee, doughnuts, peanuts, tiny candy bars and Little Debbie Fudge Rounds.
  6. Deliver the extra idea. There are always extra little awesome details or ideas, make them happen. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many nonprofits. Go the extra mile.
  7. Be flexible. You never know what will happen. Go with the flow.
  8. Have fun. The 24 hours of CreateAthon is pressure packed. Take time to have fun. Stop what you’re doing, have a normal conversation. Hop on Twitter to see what other partner agencies are doing. Hold a 2am all 80’s dance party.
  9. Don’t be afraid. When you leave your last CreateAthon presentation, you will be so energized it’s almost hard to believe. You’ll feel empowered at what you did and gave. It’s a feeling that never goes away and only gets stronger when you volunteer again next year.
  10. Spread the word. There are many areas in this nation where CreateAthon could do 24 hours of good. We’d like to be there. You can help.

Watch the video below to get a sneak peek at the magic of CreateAthon.