One of the primary goals of the Philanthropy in Five series is to feature companies who are committed to giving back, and serve as a framework for making social consciousness the standard way of conducting business.
In similar fashion (bad pun intended), Nicole D’Alonzo is launching Socolite.com, an online destination for spotlighting the philanthropic efforts and social innovations of local businesses and entrepreneurs in a fun, contemporary way. Her vision is to transform the idea of a socialite into a “socolite,” where being socially conscious, embracing a green lifestyle and being eco-aware are the height of style.
She refers to her concept as the web equivalent of a lounge where people can congregate to share goodwill, collaborate and use their collective power to make a difference in ways that are compelling, memorable and fashionable. From charity fundraisers to black-tie benefits to casual networking events, Nicole is chronicling these experiences through video and compiling documentaries to help inspire ongoing change, and shape a culture rooted in consciousness. In a society built on the concept of it being chic to spend, Nicole is showing that it’s chic to give. And that’s a cause that’s more than just a passing fad.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
I would define for-profit philanthropy as business with a benevolent agenda. For-profit philanthropy takes a holistic approach to customer service. It signifies a company that cares about its customers, in all aspects of their life. Money stimulates action, and if you can wield that monetary power, in the direction for positive change — it’s like Steven Covey says, “win-win.”
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
My philanthropic business plan with Socolite.com is to redefine the concept of philanthropy and eco-consciousness, and promote the people and businesses that are examples of the new standard. Philanthropy can be chic yet accessible, and being green can be sexy (burlap sacks need not apply). Cmarchuska, a shining example in the fashion world, brings style to sustainable fashion and donates a portion of the proceeds to charity. I believe in leading by example, and I hope people take note of the business values of cmarchuska and similar organizations.
Currently, we are documenting socially conscious business activities and fundraisers to raise awareness about the causes, while highlighting the businesses supporting them. I report on-site from events and businesses, and promote the philanthropic entrepreneurs. Socolite.com is structured to provide a form of PR for your philanthropic business, while providing unlimited exposure. The site features a global initiative, and I’m arranging “Socolite Ambassadors” in various countries. Because together, I believe, the Socolite project can become fully realized.
The first phase of Socolite.com offers membership to philanthropic businesses and non-profits, which features an ad space on the Socolite-approved business list (businesses must meet certain requirements). Members will receive priority feature opportunities, and may be profiled on the site (and ultimately in the print magazine). A percentage of the profit from every membership will be donated to Danny Brown’s 12 for 12k Challenge (www.12for12k.org), which raises money for 12 different charities.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
I like the idea of putting things into perspective. For example, explaining the way a $5 donation can positively alter a life. Raising the quality of life for someone else will ultimately affect your own life. Maybe not immediately, but eventually, if we all contribute, we can raise morale, quality of life and make a difference.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
Even if a business does not choose to become philanthropic for the obvious reasons (i.e. helping people who need it), it should soon recognize that philanthropy is becoming the norm. Apathy is not an option in our socio-economic state, and if you take care of your community today, maybe they will become your customers tomorrow. The community, however, needs help right now, and will remember (and reward) those who extended altruism during a difficult time. My Dad always says, “Don’t be eligible. Be marketable.” I think that applies here because if you’re a philanthropic business, I’d be willing to help promote you, and I’m confident I’m not the only one.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
First, find out what your specific community needs are and start at home. This will reap the most rewards and teach you how to best serve your customers. Also, philanthropy can no longer be considered just a good idea, so I would have to add that implementation is vital. Find an organization and commit to it. Commit to your community, and you’re ultimately committing to — and connecting with — your customers.
Name: Nicole D’Alonzo
Title: Founding Editor/Creator
Company: Socolite | A Socially Conscious Lifestyle for a Better World