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Collaborating for Good Through Games: co.lab

12 Dec

There are a couple areas of social good that are becoming more and more intriguing these days: gamification and education. So when something launches that is a cross-section of the two, it’s exciting to share!

Recently such a new opportunity came up. I had the chance to talk with Zynga.org‘s executive director Ken Weber about a new joint venture between Zynga and New Schools Venture Fund: co.lab.

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The idea behind this incubator for startups involved with educational games is simple, yet ambitious. Zynga.org provides access to gaming best practices, Zynga staff, offices, tools and expertise, as well as playtests and feedback from both Zynga and schools (including students and educators). The startups provide their education technology products (apps and games), creative ideas, enthusiasm, and a burning desire to change the world for the better, just like the two supporting partners of the program.

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Zynga employee Nick leads students from San Francisco’s Balboa High School through a game design workshop. Creating excitement for STEM learning is part of the idea behind many of Zynga’s initiatives. Photo courtesy of Zynga.org

This new program was started just this fall. The application process for co.lab’s second cohort will open in early November. If chosen, co.lab provides for-profit or non-profit startups using technology products to help improve academic or social outcomes PK-12 with help in several keys areas of developing more effective ed tech products. These include developing learning game apps (content), measurement and evaluation tools (M&E), educational platforms that distribute games and apps (distribution) and/or other educational services that are looking to learn from best practices in commercial gaming to improve distribution, retention and engagement (gamification).

First-round cohorts include Kidaptive, LocoMotiveLabs, Motion Math, Pluto Media, and Edmodo. co.lab is a venture philanthropy initiative; the primary aim of co.lab is philanthropic: to generate a social, not financial, return.

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Ken Weber, Executive Director, Zynga.org; Mark Pincus, Founder of Zynga; Esteban Sosnik, Executive Director of co.lab; and Ted Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer of NewSchools Venture Fund. Photo taken at the co.lab opening; courtesy of Zynga.org.

The idea is, as Weber explains, “to harness the power of all the good gamers out there and channel it into solving education and social problems in fun, engaging ways.”

To this end, innovative products, ideas or prototypes that demonstrate significant promise for producing transformative effects on teaching, learning and/or education in general receive preference. Each approved startup will house a team at Zynga’s offices, receive up to a $50,000 stipend and benefit from the the knowledge and talent of one of the world’s largest online gaming companies. Zynga is investing $1 million into the first year alone.

NewSchools Venture Fund provides co.lab with operational oversight and guidance, coordinates partnerships and playtesting with educators and schools and includes co.lab companies in activities with a larger network of of edtech entrepreneurs.

Volunteers from the game industry, including Zynga employees, are also a key part of co.lab’s approach to sharing best practices and advice on product development, marketing and distribution and other related topics.

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Like many companies, Zynga combines creative online social good opportunities with in-person community events to raise overall engagement, as well as to give back both globally and locally. Photo of employees building a community garden courtesy of Zynga.org.

Internally, Zynga see its involvement in co.lab as a win/win opportunity. Not only does it inspire their own employees, who also are heavily involved with “offline” volunteering like community projects, but it also draws awareness and excitement to a huge burgeoning field online: gamification for education and social good. Additionally, it creates excitement around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs and how STEM skills can be used for a wide range of interesting passions.

Passions that even — or especially — can change the world.

If you would like to be notified when the application for the next co.lab cohort is open, contact info@playcolab.org.

How To Accept Credit Card Donations for Your NonProfit

21 Sep

Whether you’re running a charity or a non-profit organization, it pays to give your contributors and backers as many options as possible to donate their hard-earned money toward your cause. While many companies accept credit card payments despite the fees attached to them, these companies are happy to take on the cost, because they provide their customers with the easiest way possible to spend their money. Online credit card processing is the most convenient method one can offer their supporters to make donations with their credit and debit cards through your website. Let’s look a little deeper and better understand what goes into accepting credit cards online.

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Capture the enthusiasm of donors who want to give right away with credit card payments. Photo courtesy of LyndaSanchez on Flickr.

Credit Card Processing Fees

With plenty of different options, it can be difficult for a charity or NPO to choose the best one for their needs. However, knowing the right option for your organization can have a substantial impact on the amount of each donation your organization keeps. Many charities have turned to PayPal for their credit card processing needs, largely due to it being one of the most recognizable names in merchant services. However, there may be other services available that can offer your organization better rates. If you’re running a charity, you want to find low rates to ensure a contributor’s donation goes to your cause.

Many companies have sprung up in an attempt to enhance the types of services PayPal offers, so there are plenty of options, even in areas we may not expect them. If your organization is already using Intuit software, for example, you can also accomplish credit card processing with QuickBooks. However, if you don’t use accounting software at the moment, options such as WePay also provide you with significantly reduced rates compared to the 4% PayPal typically charges per transaction. With PayPal, a $100 donation becomes $96 of useable spending money for your organization after fees. But with other services offering fees between 1 and 3%, you can quickly see how these fees add up and can detract from your received donation.

How it Works

Before you pick your merchant services provider and sign a contract, you need to fully understand how the process works. By acquiring a merchant services account, your organization will be able to decide just how long the donation process works. Merchant services allows an organization to create an online payment/donation gateway that will allow your supporters to provide their credit card information directly to your website. This is a perfect solution to increase donations if you’re already in the midst of a marketing campaign that is driving additional traffic to your site.

If your charity is in dire need of increased donations, the options your merchant services provider can offer are much more advantageous for you than you might think. Donations will be sent to a secure website that will then be passed along to your merchant services account. You will then be able to withdraw the money from your service provider, or have it wired to your organization’s bank account. As an additional bonus, some service providers will allow you to accept donations from a supporter’s bank account instead of their credit or debit card. What’s the bonus of this? Well, for the most part, merchant services providers charge a significantly smaller percentage when you receive a donation from a supporter’s bank account. These fees are usually around 1% of the total donation, meaning your organization is truly gifted with nearly the entire donation made.

In the end, your goal should be to make it as simple as possible for anyone to donate to your organization. If you’ve ever tried to donate to another charity, or have even attempted to make an online purchase, only to have your experience end in immense frustration, you know how dire it is for your organization to be fully-functional. Don’t allow one more donation to pass you by; do the necessary research and find the right merchant services provider to allow your charity receive as many donations as possible.

This is a guest post by Bradley Derringer, a blogger for TechBreach, giving you the latest on all things tech. 

12/20 #NoKidHungry Give-A-Thon: We Can All Help End Childhood Hunger!

19 Dec

Happy Holidays!  This is the time of year when we all are even more touched by that giving spirit, and I am honored to be part of an amazing cause and campaign, #NoKidHungry, that’s fun, rewarding, and easy to participate in!  Just follow the #NoKidHungry hashtag to see the generosity live in action, all day on 12/20!

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On Thursday, December 20, please join in the effort to help end childhood hunger by helping spread the #NoKidHungry word through tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and/or direct (gentle?) nudging of friends and family. 😉

We will be having a Give-A-Thon all day 12/20, with some amazing surprises and prizes for those generous souls who spread the workd and MAKE A DONATION!

* A generous Share Our Strength donor decided to do something extraordinary this holiday season: personally match all gifts up to $500,000. This means the impact of our Give-A-Thon will be doubled at the end of the day, making twice the difference for kids struggling with hunger!

Team No Kid Hungry Holiday Give-A-Thon

Our Partners

No Kid Hungry Give-A-Thon 12/20/2012 to end childhood hunger

Author note: Join us! Help us spread the word this Thursday! Visit the Team fundraising page.

This Thursday, December 20, we are excited to work with our amazing online community to hold a Team No Kid Hungry Holiday Give-A-Thon. Why now? Why in the middle of the holiday season? There are a number of reasons.

Primarily, hunger doesn’t take a holiday. When EVERY child should be excited for winter breaks, many know exactly how many school meals they will miss over the holidays, and don’t know from where their next meal will come. It is important for us to remember these children and their families during this time.

Fortunately, you can help. A $25 donation can connect a child to up to 250 meals. Are you wondering what to get that family member who has everything? Or are you trying to find something special for a friend? Consider giving the gift of No Kid Hungry this holiday season – a meaningful, and truly life-changing gift.

Through our countless online advocates and our Team No Kid Hungry community, we are making a day of it, and hosting our Holiday Give-A-Thon, complete with incredible prizes throughout the day that will amaze you! If we hit $10,000* in donations, one lucky donor will receive an iPad mini. Drawings will take place all day, so please spend the day with us!

Are you on Facebook? Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow our posts this week. On Twitter? Follow us here, and join in the #nokidhungry conversation. Check back on Facebook as we post our list of giveaway items!

How can you help prior to the Give-A-Thon? Share our Facebook posts, retweet our Give-A-Thon tweets, and spread the word. Plan your holiday shopping list, and do some one-stop, tax-deductible shopping here on Thursday.

The day will be hosted by our No Kid Hungry Social Council. Find out more, and consider getting involved!  Click “Join the Blogger Council” and we will be in touch. Thank you for all you do, for sharing your strengths with us.

Special thanks to friends (and Good Plus Tech client) AnchorFree for donating many annual HotSpot Shield Elite annual subscriptions (valued at $29.95 each!) , to be given to donors around various goals during the day on 12/20!  Stay safe keeping in touch, shopping, and making donations on all those mobile devices!

 

New: Google’s Global Impact Awards, $23 Million for Nonprofit Innovation!

5 Dec

This article originally appears in The Huffington Post.

Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Good, PR and Marketing Consultant

Global Impact Awards Give $23 Million to Charities to Spur Innovation, Help Girls and Minority Students

Posted: 12/04/2012 9:00 am
Nonprofits have longed for years to have access to the best technology. Often, even the best of ideas have challenges when technology is involved, whether it’s a technical or a funding issue. That’s where the newly-announced Google Global Impact Awards come in.

When you think of advancements in technology, engineering and creativity, you probably think Google. But the tech powerhouse also has a generous philanthropic side. Its new Global Impact Awards program has a mission for funding innovation that solves critical issues.

Supporting tech-driven philanthropy, Google’s Impact Awards focus on creating large, paradigm-shifting changes in social good.

Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Charitable Giving and Advocacy at Google, shared some insight on why this was an important mission for Google to tackle.

“Google looks for opportunities with explosive, innovative impact. The organizations here have an entrepreneurial spirit, embrace technology, and are in the sweet spot between technology and impact that can create massive, positive change.”

Fuller also notes that like Google, these nonprofits aren’t afraid to take informed risks, or “fail forward fast” and learn quickly from mistakes through metrics and measuring results. Following the Google model of “launch and iterate,” they will be on a constant learning and recalibrating adventure, making rapid technological strides.

The first round of $23 million in Global Impact Awards funding goes to seven nonprofits:

* charity: water
* DonorsChoose.org
* Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
* World Wildlife Fund
* Consortium for the Barcode of Life
* GiveDirectly
* Equal Opportunity Schools

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Learn more about Google’s Global Impact Awards and this year’s grantees by clicking above to go to the Google Impact Awards video. Graphic courtesy of Google for Nonprofits

Each organization is already doing outstanding work, and these awards for specific, new technology will help advance that work.

The clean-water nonprofit charity: water will leverage their $5 million Global Impact Award grant to pilot the installation of real-time water monitoring technologies at 4,000 water points across Africa by 2015. The impact of being able to monitor and measure water well performance on this scale will provide invaluable data not only to charity:water, but also to help other NGO’s and governments with their own well projects. This rapid learning and cataloging of information will allow new advances in building, operating, and maintaining more working wells.
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More than 800 million people globally do not have access to clean drinking water. However, charity:water is working to change that. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org

Scott Harrison, CEO of charity: water, explains it this way:

“We have embraced technology at charity:water since we started, with things like GPS units on every well so people can see their money in action on Google Maps. This project takes that transparency to another level. Now people can also see how much water the well they donated to is pumping, how many children, men and women in a community are now able to have clean drinking water. Information we learn from this data can be acted on to proactively create better training, maintenance, and building plans. And when people ‘check back in’ years later, they can see how their well is doing.”

DonorsChoose.org will use their $5 million Global Impact Award grant to provide public schools across the U.S. with materials to create ~500 new Advanced Placement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses, partnering with College Board. In the U.S., girls and minority students are less likely to study math and science in college or pursue related careers than their counterparts. More exposure to these programs at public high schools that commit to AP STEM enrollments reflecting their school’s overall diversity can lead to more growth in this area.


World Wildlife Fund
‘s $5 million Global Impact Award grant will be used to help detect and deter poaching in Asia and Africa. The illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth $7-10 billion annually, is emptying our forests, landscapes and oceans. This grant will help implement specialized sensors and wildlife tagging technology, and ranger patrolling guided by analytical software to help nature’s front line curb this poaching.

At the forefront of promoting gender equality in children’s media and entertainment, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will use its $1.2 million Award to support the development of automated technology that analyzes female portrayals in children’s media.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) will use their $3 million Global Impact Awards grant to create and begin implementing ‘DNA barcoding’ as a cost-effective, rapid, standardized, and actionable tool for protecting the world’s most endangered wildlife. More than 35,000 of the world’s 1.8 million named species are considered to be in danger of extinction, and of these, 2,000 are protected from illegal international trade by the strictest trade regulations under a UN treaty. CBOL will build a public library of DNA barcodes that law enforcement officials can use to identify confiscated material.

With their $2.4 million Global Impact Award grant, GiveDirectly will scale up its model of direct mobile technology cash transfer to Kenyan families living in extreme poverty, and expand operations to a second country. Despite assumptions, cash transfers are a proven approach to lifting people out of poverty, with substantial positive impacts including business profits, farm profits, investment and savings, adult work hours, children’s school enrollment, children’s health, and infant birth weight. GiveDirectly’s mission is to make direct giving available to donors everywhere, and in doing so to set a new benchmark for the nonprofit sector.

Equal Opportunity Schools will use their $1.8 million Global Impact Award grant to identify 6,000 high-performing yet under-represented students in 60 high schools and move them into advanced high school classes. Every year over 600,000 low-income students in the U.S. miss out on the opportunity to be placed in advanced classes that could provide the training they need to succeed at college. EOS results show that AP pass rates increase or stay the same in more diverse classrooms. Students will be selected using data that demonstrates potential to succeed and readiness for greater challenges.

As these projects progress, nonprofits and social good fans will have an opportunity to learn from the processes the six grantees are going through in their innovative journeys.

You can learn more about the Google Global Impact Awards here. If you are part of a nonprofit, there are also many resources available through Google for Nonprofits.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas. Amy is also Director of Public Relations for POGCO, the People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative – Ohio, a grassroots organization focused on sustainability, regulatory, safety, and property rights issues in the oil and gas industry.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Microfinance: Changing Lives with Small Loans

31 Jul

This article originally appears in Forbes.

 
7/24/2012 @ 12:26PM

Microfinance as a Tool to Alleviate Poverty

Amy Neumann Amy Neumann, Dell

For millions of people without access to traditional banking, the internet is a lot more than a place to share the latest family photos. It’s an opportunity to tell their stories and gain access to small loans that can change their lives.

Just 10 percent of the global population has access to traditional banking, according the Gates Foundation. To bridge the gap, microfinance institutions step in. Microfinance entails loans of as little as $25 to unemployed or low-income individuals or groups who would otherwise have no other means of gaining financial services, providing low-income people with opportunities to become self-sufficient.

Back in 1974, a Bengali man named Muhammad Yunus created the concept of microfinance with Grameen Bank, winning him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for the dramatic global impact of his idea. The World Bank estimates that more than 500 million people have benefitted from microfinance to date.

Different than charity, these loans are repaid to the individual lenders. Since 2005, Kiva, a person-to-person microlending organization, has provided more than $329 million from 786,000 lenders in 62 countries, with the astonishing repayment rate of 98.97 percent. Borrowers are able to tell their stories online, along with details of their business idea – say, opening a shop or buying materials to make goods by hand.

For as little as $25, you can help someone launch a business through Kiva.org.

Kate Cochran, COO of education microlender Vittana, notes the ripple effect these small loans can have across entire families and even generations. “In India, an education can increase earning power by 200 to 300 percent. In many cases, siblings are able to pay for younger brothers and sisters to complete their education with that extra income, and the upward cycle repeats.”

As success stories flourish, continuing innovations are happening in the space. Numerous entrants in the 2012 Dell Social Innovation Challenge involved creative aspects of microfinance  in their business plans. Other microfinance organizations (MFI’s) include ACCION, Microplace, and Grameen America. Many MFI’s also offer microloans in the U.S. for entrepreneurs with solid business plans but who don’t qualify for traditional bank loans.

Global Philanthropy Group partner Maggie Nielson, who helped develop and implement the United Nation’s Year of Microcredit  program in 2005, sums it up nicely: “People just want access to the same financial tools we have so that they can help themselves. They don’t want someone else to build them a big project or give them a handout. They are perfectly capable of creating their own success even though they weren’t born into the same circumstances. That is the kind of assistance anyone can give. You can literally change someone’s life.”

Social Good Stars — @CharityWater CEO Scott Harrison

12 Jul
Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Media Consultant

Social Good Stars — Charity: Water’s Scott Harrison

Posted: 07/11/2012 5:53 pm

This is the ninth installment of the Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world. You can read the eighth interview with Maggie Nielsen, partner at Global Philanthropy Group, here.

Scott Harrison is well-known worldwide as the charismatic founder and CEO of uber-impactful clean water charity, charity: water. But the story of how charity: water came to be is quite unique. It’s not often that such a colorful, inspiring, paradigm-shifting story happens. Scott’s is just that, and the global impact charity: water has had in the six years it has been around is staggeringly beautiful. I had the honor of learning more about the history and progress of one of the most productive water organizations out there through Scott.
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Click above to hear Kevin Rose’s interview of charity: water Founder Scott Harrison. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org
Raised in a loving Christian home, Scott developed a rebellious side that led him to New York City. Part of a band, he got into the club circuit, then became a popular and wildly successful club promoter for many years. Although the glamorous celebrity lifestyle was irresistible for a time, Scott had an epiphany one New Year’s Eve. “I had become the worst person I knew,” surrounded by and enmeshed in the partying crowd, with no sense of purpose. In spite of what appeared to be a jet-setting, extravagant life, “I was desperately unhappy and needed to change,” Scott says.

So in 2004 he decided to “become the exact opposite of what I was then,” and after being passed over my numerous nonprofits trying to volunteer, he paid Mercy Ships, a hospital ship which provides life-changing surgeries, to be a volunteer in Africa. Having spent his wealth at about the same or greater rate at which he raked it in, his life went from lavish to austere in a flash. As the photographer responsible for documenting the thousands of surgeries Mercy Ships did over the next two years, Scott was astonished by the poverty he saw, and realized how important the most basic things most of us take for granted really were. One day in Liberia, he saw a surgeon dig a well for a village, next to a filthy human water source unfit for animals, and turn it into clean, fresh, safe, drinkable water. At that moment, his life forever changed.

Back in NYC in 2006, Scott dived into his passion to help bring clean water to the one in nine people in the world who don’t have it now — 800 million people. His unique club promoter background inspired an original idea that is now a commonplace and hugely successful fundraising tool — donating a birthday. First he threw a party at a club, and raised $15,000. But next, he thought, “What if people skipped the cab fare, the cover charge, the drinks, and the tips, and just donated that money?” He started with $1 for every year he’d been alive, and voila, the “donate your birthday” revolution began.

And thousands of birthdays donated later (to date), millions of people have been given life-sustaining, clean drinking water. Folks like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Alyssa Milano, Justin Beiber, and countless other celebrities have given up their birthday gifts to give. And of course, thousands of caring people around the world have too. And not just birthdays — proceeds raised with creative activities like skydiving, marathons, lemonade stands, scrapbooking, mountain climbing, you name it!

One of the most unique, and original, things charity:water is also known for is the 100% model. One hundred percent of all donations go to drilling wells. This was a novel idea, and one Scott was adamant about. “People would constantly mention how they weren’t sure if their money was going to the cause, or to other expenses,” a conundrum he wanted to prevent. All expenses come out of a separate account, so all donations flow directly to water.

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Bringing clean water and joy — charity: water. Photo courtesy of charitywater.org

Director of digital at charity: water, Paull Young, believes a few key brand values have driven much of the growth to date:

“At charity: water we are aiming to inspire a movement to solve the world water crisis. We do this by inspiring through story telling, maximizing the impact people can make by sending every cent given or raised to fund water projects, and then by helping our supporters see their impact by linking their donation to a specific water project.”

And not only does charity: water change lives in the developing world, but Paull and the team are building an experience for supporters that will do the same at home.

“We believe that people want to make a positive impact on the world, but might feel powerless to do so. We hope we can provide that opportunity, and once they see their impact believe that they’ll be transformed personally, just as they change lives in the developing world.”

Another groundbreaking idea was leveraging technology to further illustrate just how life-saving an impact every dollar makes. Before it was a more commonplace service, Scott started tagging wells drilled via GPS, and showing photos and videos of the sites and the happy people they serve. The impact this has is monumental — the story tells itself, through the smiles, joy, and laughter of kids and adults, even in some of the most remote places on earth. With the ability to tangibly not only see the wells, but the phenomenal effect they have on entire communities, donors feel the concrete impact they make in a very visceral sense. And by using social media to spread the message, millions of people get to see those results every day.

“A person dies every 15 seconds from water-borne diseases. That’s an enormous problem. But we are having a positive impact on a large scale,” notes Scott. Recently charity: water raised enough money to purchase two drilling rigs, which exponentially increased drilling ability.

Scott and the charity: water team, along with donors and volunteers all around the world, are indeed having a positive impact. To learn more about how Water Changes Everything, watch this video. To donate to charity: water, click here. You can also follow @charitywater on Twitter, and Like them on Facebook for more.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

Social Good Stars: @Causecast CEO Ryan Scott on the Future of Cause Marketing #nptech

29 Mar
This article originally appears on The Huffington Post.
Amy Neumann

Writer, Speaker; Social Media Consultant

Social Good Stars: Causecast CEO Ryan Scott on the Future of Cause Marketing

This is the seventh installment of the Impact series, #SocialGoodStars. The people highlighted here are passionate, dedicated philanthropists, strengths to their communities, and social media masters. They also happily share their vast knowledge with others, making them shine as leaders in the Social Good world. You can read the sixth interview with Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark here.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast, is a visionary idealist with a plan. He is a successful entrepreneur and thinker; a humanist and a philanthropist; and an investor and adviser to many interesting companies and charities. Also, he co-founded two of my favorite sections of the Huffington Post: Impact, and Education. His passion for doing the right thing — like not charging nonprofits a cent to use Causecast’s platform to help their cause — has helped spur global growth in cause marketing and its effectiveness. As a leader in the cause marketing field, he has some inspiring and thought-provoking insights into the future of Social Good.

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Photo courtesy of Causecast.com.You are widely regarded as the “Father of Opt-In Email Marketing.” You gave people an additional voice and freedom (to opt-in, or not) before people even asked. How did that affect your charity vision?

Opt-in was the result of my sense of social justice. We have the technology to ask people to subscribe rather than spam them and force them to opt-out – or in the case of the postal world, just spam them without regard for whether or not they want to get off the list. We have the technology for mass customization so what is the excuse for not using it? We can do direct marketing in an ethical way on the internet, and in fact we have to, so let’s do it.

My charity vision comes from that same sense of social justice. We ask nonprofits to solve the world’s toughest problems with a challenging business model. As a society, we reward selling sugar water far more than we reward building wells. This perverse incentive does nothing to solve the issue of lack of clean water, but it creates the altogether new problem of obesity. Clearly this is not sustainable. Capitalism can and must be better leveraged to help nonprofits do their work. It’s just too powerful of a force to ignore. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to harness the power of capitalism and by vastly improving this mutually beneficial partnership we will start to actually solve the world’s most pressing problems.
As a proponent of environmentalism and social justice, what social media platforms have jumped out at you as far as helping there?

The major social networks and publishing platforms can have a huge impact on social awareness and change. I can’t point to just one — as a marketer you have to use them all for their strengths. Unfortunately this is not one of those questions that has an easy solution.

You are active with many organizations, including Keiretsu Forum, the President’s Council of Planned Parenthood, the Long Now Foundation, and the Methuselah Foundation, among others. Are there trends you’ve seen online that have helped with expanding these causes?

Developments in the online world have increased the capacity of nonprofits and opened up new possibilities. For example, at Causecast we introduced free donation processing, which makes giving far less costly, and the ability for nonprofits to participate in workplace giving programs of corporations, also for free. But there are also pitfalls to online cause innovations. There is so much noise online, and it can be easy to create an app that is too difficult for NPOs to follow. Worse, I’ve seen some cause marketing campaigns where the brands are getting much more value than the nonprofit partners. I’ve seen many smaller nonprofits spend valuable time promoting a brand but competing against far more popular nonprofits, giving them no hope of winning. The time spent promoting the brand would have been better spent honing their core fundraising skills. Luckily there a lot of exceptions to this, for example Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program in which all participating organizations walk away with something for their time, and organizations are paired with other organizations of similar size, making it more fair.
What other trends do you think nonprofits can leverage right now to help advance their message?

Workplace giving and volunteer programs are becoming a critical aspect of employee engagement, which is an essential key to employee recruitment and retention. Traditional corporate philanthropy only goes so far — companies need to get their entire workforce involved in order to make a difference, and nonprofits should make sure that they’re exposed to employee-based streams of fundraising and volunteerism. When employees get involved with nonprofits as a part of workplace programs, everyone benefits — nonprofits, the engaged employees and corporate bottom lines. That’s why Causecast developed a technology platform to help nonprofits connect with business workforces.


Social good marketing gets a lot of positive coverage these days. Do you feel it’s a win/win for brands and nonprofits? How do consumers/donors benefit from these social good partnerships?

It’s always a good thing when the private sector supports the public sector, no matter what the reasons. But cause marketing can feel like just that — marketing — if it’s not backed up by authentic engagement by the employees of the company.
Where do you see “Social Good/Cause Marketing” heading in the next two years?

Cause marketing is clearly the future of marketing. In fact, when you see that 90% of consumers will switch brands to one that supports a cause, you quickly realize that all marketing will be cause marketing. Despite some attempts at causewashing, it’s here to stay.

As you can tell, I’m really excited about employee cause engagement or workplace giving and volunteering. In fact, I predict all cause marketing campaigns will ultimately be launched to the public from within the workplace, by the employees of the corporation, not solely from the marketing department. Because what, after all, is the heart and soul of a company? Its staff. If they pick the nonprofits the company should support, if they are involved in crafting and promoting the campaign, it’s as authentic as it can be.

Soon, and this is our most active area of development, we’ll see companies competing with each other to make the most positive social change. I can’t think of a better reason to be hopeful for the future than that.

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Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast.Learn more about Ryan Scott on LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter @ryan_scott.

Amy Neumann is a social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and consultant on social good marketing. Check out her Charity Ideas Blog and follow her on Twitter @CharityIdeas.

Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas

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