Monday, November 30, 2009

Bugaboo Goes (RED) & Good Happens

Bugaboo is an invitation to get on the move and get your miles in with your baby. Now you and baby can go with Bugaboo while making a difference for women and children living with HIV in Africa. This is good all around.
Bugaboo, a Dutch stroller company, "has partnered with (RED) by contributing 1% of all revenue to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. This means more women and children living with HIV in Africa will get the medicine they need to lead more active, productive and hopeful lives."
This special (BUGABOO)RED collection comes in various color options. The collection includes a white leather (BUGABOO)RED bag which has a changing mat, and removable food and drink containers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holidays and Cause Marketing: What Can Your Business Do To Help Out

Here we go again, another recent poll about how charitable giving will be down this year during the holidays. There certainly has been plenty of this messaging in the media. It's hard to get away from it. But, I don't think we should. The times are what they are, and the best we can do is help out others in need and not ignore it. I've heard some say, "I choose not to participate in this recession." Let's not forget that some families are facing it head on and they are turning to community resources and agencies for help. During the holidays it seems particularly harder.

Business owners are stepping up to the plate to make a difference this season. There are more cause marketing campaigns than what I have ever seen in previous years. Many of them are great. There is "The Big Warm-Up" a partnership between Land's End and the National Coalition for the Homeless, Macy's and Make-A-Wish Foundation "Believe" campaign, Iams and "Home4theHolidays," and Drew Carey's Twitter Challenge between Drew Carey and LIVESTRONG Foundation. While these campaigns are from large companies, a business of any size can create a campaign and positive experience around it. It's important to note that we are not talking about partnerships, just product sales or purchase plus.

If you want to be a part of the charitable giving landscape this holiday, here are a few strategies to create a simple and easy cause campaign through your business:

1. Decide on a charity that aligns with your business's values.
2. Create a great value for the consumer or client.
3. Keep the message cause-centric and drive the social impact.
4. Choose your campaign tool (discounts, pin-ups, point of sale).
5. Keep your tracking simple at the very least through # of media hits and/or funds raised.

Some of the benefits of a cause marketing campaign is that it connects people to charity by building awareness, it provides unrestricted funds, and positions your business as caring and community-minded.

The key is to keep it simple so it can be easily implemented again. With all the glitz and sparkly stuff during the holidays, keeping your campaign clean can be more compelling for consumers.

Copyright © 2009. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How Your Small Business can be a Cause Champion

This post is about understanding why we give what we give to as a business owner. And, it comes out of an article I wrote, "How Core Values Lead to Your Small Business Giving Niche."

To help learn just where your business's giving should be directed, it's important to first know that you can't be all things too all organizations. In a recent interview of Carol Cone by James Espstein Reeves of
Citizen Polity, she points out that ..."to find the shared value between the company and a social issue, then create an innovative response to help the social issue where there is great need. Also going deep and narrow is key, verses being a mile wide and an inch deep." This is very true and when working with clients, I get hung up on the values a business owners holds true for themselves and their business, as the indicator for revealing your business's giving niche. When you stay close to your values, your giving program cannot be anything else but authentic. Here is a blurb from the article I wrote:

When most people hear the term, core values, they generally associate it with large corporations. They are statements that describe what the company believes in and guide its behavior. Many companies have them and communicate them on their website. For example, Seventh Generation, a leading brand of non-toxic and environmentally safe household products, has core four core value. Their values are 1) Leadership, Inspiration and Positive Change – a company with the authority to lead, the creativity to inspire and the will to foster positive social and environmental change; 2) Make the World a Better Place – a community in which individuals possess the resources, knowledge, courage, and commitment to make the world a better place; 3) Sustainability, Justice and Compassion – a society whose guiding principles include: environmental sustainability, social justice and compassion for all living creatures; 4) An Earth Restored – an earth that is restored, protected and cherished for this generation and those to come. Wow! Right. We can see how Seventh Generation incorporates these values into their product development, business practices, communication, and giving.

The premise for establishing core values is how you show up, serve, and promote who you are as a business. For a small business, core values are closer to own personal values and it becomes a grey, squishy area to even try to compartmentalize the two. Your business is an extension and expression of your unique qualities, characteristics, and authenticity. This comes through in your products, services, and customer/client relations. When your core values are deeply aligned with your business, you are being true, authentic and honoring your highest purpose. Doing business from this place affects your voice and conviction that you have a unique value to offer the world.

Making a commitment to defining your core values lays a foundation for how your business makes a difference in this world. Seventh Generation’s core values are closely aligned with product and service to their customers and the world and it is clear to see where their commitments are. Core values can:

- Move your business forward in the right direction
- Build your brand
- Attract customers with similar values
- Energize you and those that work with you

Core values help create your giving niche. So, if you’ve been in stuck-mode about giving, waffling back and forth as to where you should give, making a commitment to understanding your core values is well worth the exercise. You will be able to set giving goals that are aligned with your business and feel good about it. By defining your core values, you will be far more likely to succeed with your giving program and over time see giving success!

So what does this have to do with Hope Runs and being a cross country and cause champion? It is an organization which my values are closely aligned with on both a personal and business level (as a runner ~ cross country runner at heart and a champion for causes). I support them and I love the energy, stamina, core message and programs it manages to make a difference.

Hope Runs is a non-profit working in Kenya and Tanzania, using athletics, education, and social entrepreneurship to empower AIDS orphans. "There are an estimated 53 million orphans living in sub-Saharan Africa. This means that one in every eight children has lost parents to poverty, disease, or conflict. All of these children are at high risk of reaching adulthood without the preparation they need to one day uplift and transform the struggling economies of their continent. In short, we are losing a generation of future leaders. Hope Runs works to equip orphaned and vulnerable children with the tools to escape cycles of poverty and conflict to become productive and empowered adults" (source:

One of their programs is a Running Program. "Capitalizing on children’s universal love of sport and activity, Hope Runs uses running as a primary community builder in locations where structured after school activities and athletics programs are unheard-of luxuries. With its ability to show personal progress, to prove the effectiveness of goal-setting and discipline, and to improve these children’s health, running has proven an amazing tool to teach these children motivational and disciplinary lessons that can apply to every aspect of their life. This is also an exceptional way to engage our volunteers in the community and to bring the children together in their efforts toward a common goal."

But Hope Runs doesn’t stop there. "They also have their 777 program, an endurance running challenge: 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 weeks in 2010. It is a great way to combine the love of running that is central to our work with a platform that brings an understanding of the challenges these AIDS orphans face everyday. Raising both funding and awareness for the cause of these children, the 777 Challenge represents a sacrifice, dedication and commitment that many have said is impossible" (source:

Hope Runs is one organization that I hold close to my heart. As a business owner, I feel we share core values that are deeply rooted in who we are and how we serve. This is one example to understand how your core values lead to your business's giving niche. The beauty around it is the authenticity for me and how this is distinctive for me versus other business owners. Hence, it's hard to ever have two businesses with the exact same giving program. I postulate it's not possible.

Copyright. 2009. Maggie F. Keenan, Ed.D. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Turn-Key Community Impact Software Programs Turn Me Off

What's the latest, newest tool on the market with bells, whistles and flashing screens stating promises to business owners that this tool will solve their problems and even save them time (sound familiar). Poof-away! All your headaches are gone. All over what? Oh:( the challenges of creating your business community involvement (giving back) program.

There has been a rise in the growing number of turn-key software programs to help business owners develop 'custom fit' community involvement programs with the click of a mouse. At the cost of not sounding too snarky, I hesitate to think there is any striking similarity between 'custom fit' and a 'click of a mouse.'

The business can pick from a drop-down list of charities, import data for giving options, communicate your giving to the software company's list of other businesses (which sharing the message is inspiring, the important aspect is to reach your audience), and a few other windows that, well quite frankly, are as boiler-plated as possible to of course make the entire process, e-a-s-y. What about the other 'e' word...Effective!

Surely, there is a cost benefit to turn-key solutions. But, community involvement programs are unique to a business and ideally aligned closely with its brand and values. Thus implying, if we believe this statement to be true, then the click of a mouse will not create for you the one thing that can be uniquely yours to make a difference. Impossible, as the array of options are not infinite.

I like ease and making things a simple as possible as much as anyone else. But, there are a few pieces to the process that are missing. A few of them: creativity, participation, and authenticity. Perhaps its my passion here surfacing, but I believe impact and business identity are too closely linked to assume it can be done with a click of a mouse.