I first connected with Scott Henderson on Twitter, where we became instant friends, united in championing cause marketing and trading insights around sustainable business. Since then, he has been a continual source of knowledge as someone who is perpetually plugged into the philanthropy market, quickly identifying and evaluating a company’s true commitment to the causes they support. A consciousness watchdog of sorts, intent on keeping cause marketers honest about their initiatives, Scott is not afraid to call out the culprits who employ it as a flavor-of-the-month tactic. Fundraising expert and cause innovator, Scott parlays his vast experience from gift officer of a $770+ million dollar compaign at the University of Nebraska Foundation to his current role as Director of Cause Marketing with Media Sauce in helping nonprofits and corporations use online media to pull off their next big thing. He also recently organized the Pledge to End Hunger campaign, where he successfully used social media to raise $28,000 for Share Our Strength. If it’s cause-related, philanthropy focused or sharp, results-driven strategy, chances are you’ll come across Scott Henderson. Or, if you’re being inauthentic in your cause marketing efforts, chances are, he’ll sniff you out.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
I don’t know if I have ever thought of the term “for-profit philanthropy” before now. To me, corporations and non-profits are just a bunch of men and women working together. We’re all people facing similar problems and having common interests. From that perspective, it’s easy to see why a group of people who are good at providing certain goods and services could use the wealth they’re creating to help charitable causes by donating money, products, and/or services.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
The desire to change the world has always been a part of our company culture. We seek out clients and concepts who want to pull out the next big thing. It makes sense for us to take on a project every so often where we contribute our team’s services – strategy creation, design, animation, video production, interactive development, and account management. It’s pretty easy to find team members willing to volunteer their free time, evening, and weekends when we’re helping out a worthy cause.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
We prefer to use our philanthropic work as case studies and to illustrate concepts. It’s not our desire to trumpet our philanthropy. We’d rather let the cause take the center stage.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
With 1 billion people owning personal computers and 3.3 billion owning mobile phones, people expect a much a higher degree of intimacy and immediacy with companies and other individuals. With this increased level of access, people can and will find out what your company is doing to improve the good of the greater community — through your business practices and your philanthropic endeavors. They want to know that you care about something greater than yourself. In the end, the only way to create long-term, sustainable wealth is to help others around you.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
The most critical elements are to put the cause first, be humble about your efforts, and be sincere about your commitment. Opportunism, self-centeredness, and insincerity will be punished much quicker than ever before.
Name: Scott Henderson
Title: Director of Cause Marketing
Company: Media Sauce