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Anyone who’s heavily immersed Cause Marketing, is already well aware of Cone Inc., and it’s virtually impossible to perform a search on the topic without inevitably returning several results with Cone’s many research studies or commentary. They have spent the past 28 years advising businesses and nonprofits on effective cause engagement, and are without question, one of the leaders in the space.
The pioneers behind blockbuster cause campaigns such as the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women and Procter & Gamble’s Live Learn and Thrive, among others, Cone knows what it takes to develop, implement, and maintain programs that are aligned with core business objectives and designed to make a difference. In fact, cause impact is built right into the strategy for all of the programs that Cone devises, ensuring that they are both profitable and world changing.
So, I reached out to Casey Brennan, Insights Coordinator at Cone, to share some of their recent market findings, as well as offer insights and examples of the companies doing it effectively and some of the key ingredients of success.
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Here is a continuation of a conversation I am having with a friend, Melissa, in the CSR department of a major US consumer product good company.
The question that we have been grappling is one of responsibility. While the finger can be pointed at everyone, who really is in charge? Government, Corporations or us? Please join our dialogue as the point of this post is not to theorize about the answer, but to start the discussion. Here’s what Melissa had to say:
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I can’t help but notice how we overwhelmingly blame corporations or government for our growing environmental problems while forgetting our responsibility as consumers. Sure, corporations produce a lot of stuff we don’t need in unsustainable ways, but we buy it! Yes, government could up the ante on environmental regulation, preservation and funding; but if we don’t tell legislators what we want and hold them accountable, we can’t expect much.
Accepting responsibility isn’t a sacrifice, but freedom and empowerment – the realization that we have a choice and aren’t helpless pawns.
There’s a windmill on the corner of my block. It helps power a new home that also relies on solar and other renewable energy. But I don’t often see it revolving, and when it is spinning, the blades emit a low drone that I wonder if those living immediately around the house can hear. I also worry, perhaps irrationally, that it will claim the lives of innocent birdlife in my hood. PacWind, a California-based wind energy company founded in 1998, has an answer to these worries. It makes wind turbines (shown here) that use vertical blades, are visible to birds and can operate even in winds that would be too high or too low to make conventional windmills work effectively, according to the company.
PacWind garnered some attention late last year after Jay Leno installed a PacWind turbine to help power his 17,000-foot garage (that’s the size garage he needs for his, like, 5 million cars). And Ricoh, the Japanese maker of copiers and camera, is installing a billboard in Times Square that is lit by lights powered 95% by PacWind turbines (and 5% by solar).
And on Wednesday PacWind got a lift through a deal with WePower, another California startup that has been involved with PacWind since late last year when the two companies began a partnership through which WePower would manufacture up to 500,000 of PacWind’s vertical axis windmills annually (and handle many of business needs, such as managing tax incentives, energy rebates and carbon credits). This week, WePower has announced it has also purchased PacWind’s patented and proprietary wind energy technologies.
Freelock Computing, an open source consulting firm, was built on the same premise as open source itself. Tapping into the open source community to find the ideal solutions for clients, Freelock is in the business of sharing. They share their skills, their knowledge, their network — and even their salaries — with a pay it forward approach that benefits everyone. For John Locke, founder, it’s about spreading the wealth where his company, customer, causes and planet all profit. And that’s a life hack worth installing. Click to continue reading »
Adaptability is an essential attribute in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly difficult economic times. Back in the mid- to late ’80s, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP made fortunes, and stirred up more than a bit of controversy, as a pioneering private equity firm and master of the leveraged buyout. Times have changed, and KKR is looking to change with them.
KKR’s attempt at corporate evolution involves making some strange bedfellows. Since May 2008, the firm has been working with the Environmental Defense Fund to develop and test a set of analytic tools and metrics capable of enabling companies in its portfolio to measure and improve their environmental performance. Applying them at three KKR companies yielded $16.4 million in savings and avoided more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions last year, the organizations announced today.
With energy security, greenhouse gas emissions and corporate social responsibility prominent in the public mind and high up on government agendas, the EDF-KKR partnership is indicative of a growing trend that’s increasingly bringing together champions of business and the environment in alliances that would have been practically unthinkable not so long ago.
Spain’s Iberdrola Renovables is among a growing crop of EU companies leading the drive to develop renewable power projects and new technology. The company last week released a strong performance report for 2008 with results that highlight how new legislation at the EU, national, and local levels is working hand-in-glove with private sector companies’ efforts to reshape power markets and industry across the 27-member bloc of nations.
European companies have taken the lead when it comes to developing wind, solar and marine power projects and technology, not only within the EU, but increasingly in the US and other markets around the world.
Iberdrola is well set to take advantage of the renewable energy and clean technology incentives and support included in the US’s latest economic stimulus package. It’s already the second-largest operator of wind farms in the States. More than 40% of the projects it’s looking to develop are located here. PPM Energy, its US energy subsidiary, commissioned the 223.6-megawatt Klondike III wind farm Oregon this past March. Another five wind farms capable of generating as much as 460-megawatts of electrical power came on-line in December alone.
With all this talk about the “triple bottom line,” I have found very few companies who have actually achieved such a thing. Better World Books is one of the few. And I had the privilege of interviewing co-founder Xavier Helgesen to get the scoop. Triple bottom line refers to an organization which considers its impact in terms of people, planet, and profit – or social, environmental, and financial returns.
Better World Books is a for-profit online bookstore founded in 2002 by college students looking to support themselves upon graduation. Better World Books is a B Corporation, meaning it is responsible to not only shareholders but to stakeholders for creating social and environmental as well as economic value. The company gathers inventory through library and school book drives and shares its revenues with hand-selected literacy and education programs as well as libraries world-wide.
People: Supporting Literacy Initiatives Around the World
To date, Better World Books raised over $5 million for its non-profit partners and libraries. About 7% of revenues are channeled directly back to these programs, which include Room To Read and Books For Africa. Xavier Helgesen explained: “People will buy about $20 billion worth of books in the US alone this year. And if we can channel just part of that money to funding literacy programs, we can make a huge dent in the fact that 1 out of 7 people in the world cannot read.”
Not only do these programs receive a portion of revenues, but a new program will provide stock options for Better World Books’ partners, “so they are actually going to begin…to receive an equity stake in the company…so not only are they getting checks from us in the short term based on funds raised, but in the long term, they will actually own a part of the company,” Helgesen told me.
Spheric Technologies is a web consulting firm specializing in WIC and Ruby on Rails, but what sets them apart is not their technical expertise and all around geekery, it’s their overarching commitment to the three C’s – Customer, Culture, and Consciousness. It’s fueled by a unique understanding of what their clients, employees — and even the world — needs, and a genuine desire to help fulfill them. And they do it through unparalleled customer service, a perk-driven atmosphere that rewards team members in innovative ways, and a social responsibility platform that is exemplified through every interaction. Their efforts are the embodiment of who they are vs. what they do, and as such, each charitable initiative is a reflection of their philanthropic spirit. Click to continue reading »
The eco-story of 2008, it seemed, was about how the little tweaks that you and I can make to our lifestyles – biking rather than driving to work, or carrying reusable totes to the grocery store – could, in aggregate, change the world. While that premise is certainly debatable, it was repeated in practically every publication in print and online and it did help stoke the eco-consciousness of Main Street, USA. Perhaps the story of 2009 will be about iconic (and often exceedingly wealthy) figures that take their environmentalism much, much further and serve as inspiration for others who want to do the same. That is the premise of Edward Humes’ new book, “Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet” (Ecco/HarperCollins), due out next month.
Humes is a writer-at-large for Los Angeles Magazine (where he earned a Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting) and contributes to the Huffington Post. The book profiles a number of already-prominent environmentalists, as well as some whose names won’t ring bells with most readers, such as Texan Carole Allen, who a New York Times review of the book describes as “a widowed single mother who works at the juvenile probation department in Houston [who] rallied a group of local schoolchildren around the cause of saving the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.”
It’s been said that Google, with it’s deep interest in energy technology across many sectors, will benefit greatly from the recently passed Stimulus Bill, with $11 Billion to be invested in smart grid technology.
But it may be the public and the environment that will benefit the most. Google has recently begun testing PowerMeter, a service that they say “…will show consumers their electricity consumption in near real-time in a secure iGoogle Gadget.” Translation: You’ll be able to know what is using how much in your house, via an online tool that keeps your data private.
What difference can this make?
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Now that the stimulus bill has passed, I’m surprised I haven’t seen any bumper stickers yet, declaring the ever popular propaganda mantra, “Don’t Blame Me, I (fill in the blank).” The “fill in the blank” this time around, would likely read “Didn’t Support The Stimulus.”
Spending much of the weekend reading about what was included and what wasn’t, it’s quite clear that political maneuvering certainly reared its ugly head on this one. The original House version had many flaws. The Senate-approved version stripped out some of those flaws, then added new ones or watered down necessary components. And what we’re left with today is really a bastardized version of what most voters expected.
IAC Professionals, an outsourcing company specializing in Accounting, Virtual Assistant and Transcription services, is committed to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses increase their bottom line. By taking over the managerial duties and operations, it allows businesses to focus on achieving goals and advancing their company vision. But it doesn’t end there. Heather Villa, Founder, believes in a partnership that fosters financial growth and goodwill. In that spirit, she has incorporated a “Giving Back” program to match contributions to a variety of causes and charitable organizations through everyday functions required to keep a business running. The beauty of the concept is that these regular business activities feed the ongoing support for charities, making mundane tasks meaningful, and creating a profit margin that’s as healthy as it is philanthropic. Click to continue reading »
It’s official: 2009 is the beginning of a new era. Barack Obama is president, Detroit’s Big Three are on the verge of becoming the Little Two (and A Half?), and Seventh Generation – a brand synonymous with sustainable values – is doing business with Walmart. It’s no full-scale partnership – Seventh Generation products will be sold in just four pilot Walmart stores, under Walmart’s “Marketside” brand, as an experiment. But this relationship is meaningful and significant, to retailers and producers of both mainstream and green products. Click to continue reading »
We’ve known for a while now that the stimulus was going to be delivered with a heavy green hue.
Obama has talked for months–even during the campaign–about creating green jobs, promoting energy efficiency, and updating our embarrassing energy infrastructure.
So it’s no surprise that this massive piece of legislation, the first of his presidency, makes those and several other campaign promises a reality. But as with all federal stimuli, the taxpayer ultimately foots the bill.
Since you and hundreds of millions of other Americans are the loaners here, it’s probably prudent to see where billions of your borrowed dollars are going.
You can start by taking a peek at your new $37.5 billion energy bar tab.Click to continue reading »
One of the most compelling concepts behind the new green economy is its ability to create jobs in the US. You certainly can’t outsource the installation of a solar system or high-efficiency windows. Industrial-scale wind turbines are enormous, thus favoring local production.
Although these concepts are true, there are some pitfalls to watch for:
1. Outsourcing Manufacturing
The US has lost 6 million manufacturing jobs in the last three decades. Many of these jobs had been stable and relatively well paying, especially for people without college degrees. These manufacturing jobs will not necessarily come back in a green economy.