Showing posts with label Philanthropy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philanthropy. Show all posts

Thursday, September 27

Blogging Against Abuse: Bloggers Unite

Let's Stop Abuse

Depending on how fast you read this post, about 25 children will be abused, assaulted, or caused severe physical and emotional harm. Many of them by people they trust — their moms, dads, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, guardians, teachers, coaches, ministers.

That’s one child, every 11 seconds. One right now.

Those are the obvious cases, statistics and reports chronicled by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), which is a federally sponsored effort that collects and analyzes annual data on child abuse and neglect. One right now. You can find one of the most recent summaries from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services here.

As defined, these children — one right now — are only counted if the act or failure to act on the part of the parent or caretaker results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation (or failure to act, which presents imminent risk of serious harm). That doesn’t count every child — one right now — whose abuse will never be identified, recorded, or reported.

That’s 3.3 million cases reported every year. One right now.

In other words, while newspapers and public opinion might be swayed by these numbers — the real numbers that go unreported, hidden away, and sometimes even blocked by the survivors of abuse are much larger. Equally alarming are those cases that do not even qualify as abuse — one right now.

Somewhere in America, for every one of the approximately 90,000 children who will be sexually abused this year, there will be thousands more who are told they are “worthless,” “lazy,” “ugly,” “bad,” “just like their bum father,” and many other disparaging labels assigned to them by the most trusted source of information — a parent.

One right now.

Parents, in fact, account for more than 90 percent of the perpetrators of abuse, many of whom are ignorant of the outcome that is sometimes spurred on by their own feelings of inadequacy and lack of control. This post won’t change that. But maybe it will help one child, one right now, for some parents to know that how they were raised isn’t the only way. Without any judgment whatsoever, maybe it’s fair to simply point out that their justifications are incorrect. Here are some less obvious forms of abuse.

• Name-calling, putdowns, or assigning statements like “why do you always embarrass me” can work their way into your child’s self-esteem. One right now.

• Discounting major accomplishments because you are too busy on the phone or computer to hear what happened during their day erodes their self-worth.

• Declaring, sharing, and apologizing that you just don’t know why your children are “pigs” is really a form of public humiliation. One right now.

• Threatening body language such as towering above them, raising a hand, or displaying weapons like belts and cooking spoons.

It’s these little injuries delivered sometimes every day — one right now — that shape these children into the people they will become long after the parents’ responsibilities end. Even the best parents might pause now again to ask themselves simple questions: do you spend more time on your commute to work than you do with your child? One right now.

The image above is a reworked billboard from our participation in a campaign for United Way of Southern Nevada several years ago. It caused a lot of controversy because I had only included “dads” as the perpetrators, but it brought attention to where attention was needed.

Of course, even I knew then that while issue ads can be striking, the United Way needed a message that was more apt to raise funds to solve the problem. The following year, we helped them launch their “Great Results Start With U. United Way” campaign that later became “Great results start with you.” It was the longest running, most successful campaign in their history.

I wanted to mention this campaign today because it lends well to the concept of “Bloggers Unite because great results really do start with you. One blogger. One post. One right now. One topic. At a time. One right now.

Please take a moment to read and submit your Bloggers Unite post against abuse to our competition, win $250 for a charity (among other prizes), and receive some well-deserved recognition that will inspire others to lend their voices against abuse; which is important to them. One right now.

You can also purchase a T-shirt with the image above from the Bloggers Unite store. Proceeds from that item this year will be donated to Prevent Child Abuse. Proceeds from other Bloggers Unite items will be donated to aid against animal abuse as requested by our friends at BlogCatalog.

Later today, I will be adding a thank you for all those who came out early to support our "Blog For Hope Post" competition that is underway and BlogCatalog in this very important effort. If you haven't joined this effort today, there is still time. It only takes one.


Tuesday, September 18

Blogging For Hope:

“Sept. 27. will be the first time in history that social network members will collectively promote a single social awareness issue on hundreds of blogs all over the world on the same day,” said Antony Berkman, president of “They chose the topic and it’s a call to end abuse.”

If there is any truth to the idea that one good deed deserves another, then’s Call To End Abuse, which is its third social awareness campaign, certainly qualifies. While the topic is broad, the blogger-driven campaign promises to raise awareness of abuse-related subjects and related non-profits around the world.

In cooperation with, Copywrite, Ink. is inviting any blogger who participates in the campaign to submit a link to their Sept. 27 abuse awareness post along with two weeks of measurable results for a contest designed to benefit others while drawing additional recognition to bloggers who do good.

Blog For Hope Post Competition

The Challenge. Simply post about some form of abuse on your blog as planned on Sept. 27 and then track any measurable results (traffic counts, comments, links from others, recognition from charity or media, donations collected or made to a charity as applicable, etc.) for two weeks. Your name and address must be included on the e-mailed entry (we will publish pseudonyms upon request; this information will not be used for any other purpose).

The Submission. Please submit the link to your post in the body of an e-mail along with any measurable results to by no later than 5 p.m. PST on Oct. 10, 2007. Title the post “Blog For Hope Entry.”

Entry fee. Nada. Zero.

First Place.
• $250 (U.S.) donated to a recognized charity of your choice in your name.
• Six months of premium services from
• Choice of any “Bloggers Unite” T-shirt, mug, or other product.
• Your blog and post topic profiled on Nov. 4 by the Copywrite, Ink. blog.
• A “Bloggers Unite” product design based on your post, which will include your blog address (proceeds will benefit charity), and design featured on the Back Lot Projects store blog with a direct link to your post. Additional recognition on, Copywrite, Ink., and National Business Community Blog.

Second Place.
• Three months of premium services from
• Choice of any “Bloggers Unite” T-shirt, mug, or other product.
• Your blog and post topic profiled on Nov. 11 by the Copywrite, Ink. blog.
• A “Bloggers Unite” product design based on your post, which will include your blog address (proceeds will benefit charity), and design featured on the Back Lot Projects store blog with a direct link to your post. Additional recognition on, Copywrite, Ink., and National Business Community Blog.

Third Place.
• One month of premium services from
• Choice of any “Bloggers Unite” T-shirt, mug, or other product.
• Your blog and post topic profiled on Nov. 18 by the Copywrite, Ink. blog.
• A “Bloggers Unite” product design based on your post, which will include your blog address (proceeds will benefit charity), and design featured on the Back Lot Projects store blog with a direct link to your post. Additional recognition on, Copywrite, Ink., and National Business Community Blog.

Honorable Mentions.
• Up to five honorable mentions to be included in the winners release.

Winners will be announced on Oct. 27, 2007. Entry assumes that you agree to allow us the right to republish portions of your post in the event you win and make yourself available to answer a few e-mail questions for the winners’ profiles to be published at Copywrite, Ink.

Judging. Post will be judged on the basis of the quality of the post (be accurate, clear, concise, human, and conspicuous), the abuse subject or charity mentioned in your post, and any additional measurements submitted. Judges will include two members of, two members of Copywrite, Ink., and two outside judges with no affiliation to either company.

Additional. You do not have to be a member to enter. We reserve the right to not award some or all prizes if no suitable entries are submitted. Neither or Copywrite, Ink. employees are eligible to participate. All decisions by the judges are final. The first place cash prize will NOT be awarded to the first place winner personally (but rather to a charity instead) and therefore the winner shall not be entitled to receive an income tax deduction for such prize contribution.

If you have additional questions or comments, feel free to post them in the comment section of this post. The sole purpose of this contest is to have fun, recognize causes against abuse, and bloggers who use their blogs for good.


Monday, September 10

Acting Responsibly: Crime Bloggers

Communication remains one of the most powerful but underutilized tools for any business, organization, or community. And while most have remained slow to embrace it, I anticipate some sweeping changes as more best practices and fewer abuses receive public attention.

Just one story that caught my attention last week demonstrates the positive power of communication, community, and social media in a very profound and personal way. Joy Roy, who maintains Southern Sass on Crime, Robert Bush, who publishes American Proud, Warriors for Innocence, Perverted Justice, and others have all played a role in tracking Jack McClellan, a self-labeled pedophile who has avoided prosecution to date.

McClellan originally came to the attention of authorities because of the Portland-based organization Perverted Justice. According to the Los Angeles Times, the group began monitoring McClellan because he had created a Web site on which he posted photographs of children in public places and discussed the best local places to watch little girls.

While the Web site was eventually shut down by his provider, McClellan still managed to publish his information for months, placing information in the hands of those who might abduct children even if McClellan himself never intended to. After being exposed and ordered to stay away from minors, McClellan decided to leave his last state of residence because, he said, “I can’t live here under Orwellian protocol.”

Since he has never been charged as a sex offender, he does not have to register with the authorities, leaving it up to private citizens to take matters into their own hands. What McClellan doesn’t realize is that what he did might even be worse than committing a direct crime against children: his original Web site and subsequent actions make it easier for criminals who are more likely to take action against young women and minors.

This is a growing problem that requires immediate attention. It is also one that I am increasingly sensitive to given our Las Vegas headquarters, where stories of missing persons and human trafficking is becoming all too common. One immediately comes to mind: Glendene Grant’s daughter went missing from her home in Las Vegas in March 2006 after living in the city for about 10 months. (You can read the story here).

Better use of social media might have made a difference in this case (and it is still not too late) if citizens and authorities begin to develop dedicated social media applications across the country, funded or supported by social networks and other technology providers. While some steps in this direction have been taken, much more work needs to be done.

Specifically, notifications of missing children and missing people need to be actively promoted beyond missing persons. Recently Missing Children is one example of what can be done They have a national widget that is a step in the right direction, but more state-by-state public-private widgets need to be developed (we’re adding Wayne Wirs’ Recenty Missing Children widget to our community service blog and space for Ad Council public service campaigns soon).

For additional information about missing persons in Nevada, please visit From there, you can access information for other states.


Wednesday, July 18

Increasing Awareness: Organ Donation

If you trend “organ donation” on BlogPulse, an automated trend and search system for blogs developed by Neilsen BuzzMetrics, you’ll notice a spike yesterday. Today, when the results post, it will be larger.

Why the sudden interest in organ donation, a topic that generally sees only one or two mentions in the mainstream media? Two words: Antony Berkman.

This awareness spike is why I sometimes think of Berkman, president of BlogCatalog, as the polar opposite of Andrew Keen. Berkman believes social media can do great good and, every now and again, he sets his sights on an underserved or underreported social awareness issue to prove it.

Last time, members of his social blog directory focused on education, a campaign that directly benefited more than 1,000 students through

This time, after members requested an international issue, Berkman settled on organ donation. And, with an assist, even received some mainstream media attention, including Medical News Today (the number one medical news search engine with 1.7 million visitors a month), drawing attention to what has become a global member-driven social awareness campaign. For his part, Berkman encouraged scores of bloggers to make history by participating in the campaign. It looks like they did it.

So who are these bloggers? As an open social blog directory, members include people from all over the world, each with a blog (some have several), who cover a diverse range of topics. But today, most of them focused on some aspect of organ donation, depending on what best served their readers.

Some focused on success stories like Alex Pratt, who suffered from kidney disease for more than 20 years until finding a match at Matching Donors, some wrote on the darker topic of the Black Market as recently covered by Slate Magazine, and some asked their readers to visit or provided links to programs within their own countries. Others included how many people are waiting for transplants, ranging from more than 1,700 in Australia to over 2 million in China.

“When you look at the numbers, it’s very frightening. People are dying because they need organs and there are not enough available,” Berkman told me when I asked for NBCB why he chose the sometimes controversial topic. “So we asked ourselves what would happen if we chose one day to make organ donation the most talked about topic on the Web, and then asked our members to write around this important issue.”

Berkman says he is inspired with each new post on blogs like Go! Smell The Flowers, Healthy Lifestyles, and Sensibilid (AD). Together, he says, he knows they have all made a difference.

I think so. Not only does it raise awareness, but it shows me that we often find what we look for in the world or on the Web. Whereas some people work to support antidotal thinking that suggests social media is evil, Berkman employs it to encourage people to do good.


Wednesday, June 20

Enhancing News Releases: International Paper

International Paper (IP), which is a global uncoated paper and packaging company, demonstrated what is likely to be considered by most to be a best practice in blending traditional news releases and digital media features. And they did it for the right reasons.

In a news release (we ran a portion of it on our business giving blog), International Paper recognizes two outstanding efforts to protect natural resources through leadership in conservation and education. Most public relations practitioners know the drill: Company X together with Nonprofit Z recognized so and so and so and so on date at place.

Sure, the release is mostly traditional and follows an emerging trend of being "pat" quote heavy: "So and so and so and so are great people who do great things," said so and so. "And that is why it makes sense that our great company and a great nonprofit gave them a great award." Only one quote survived in our version and that might have been too much.

(Note to IP: I'm not making fun of the release as much as I am poking at public relations rules, which seem to only work for members of the media who claim they want to write their own stories. I've written several thousand releases, just like this one, but perhaps with a few quotes less.)

So what caught our attention?

There is an added element that, although easily missed, is brilliant. In addition to the sum-ups of John Tippett (2007 IP Conservation Partnership recipient), who was recognized for his work to protect Virginia's Rappahannock River, and Donald Sprangers (2007 IP Environmental Education recipient), who was honored for outstanding curriculum innovation and cooperative education, IP linked to two mini-documentaries on YouTube. They focus on the merits of each individual's program.

You can catch Tippett's IP-produced video here and Springer's IP-produced video here. While we could probably nit pick a few camera angles, these documentaries, at just over three minutes each, add volumes to the release.

So what makes them work?

Strategic Consideration. Much like the recognition program and release, these documentaries fit the company's strategic message to make products in a safe and healthful workplace, to manage natural resources wisely, and to continually improve its environmental performance.

Multipurpose Communication. While they won't draw as much attention as the latest uncensored celebrity video or campy college pick, the videos stand alone in telling two interesting environmental stories separate from the release. In sum, while the release works for the media, the videos will work for anyone. As a bonus, both groups now have a 3-minute presentation about their efforts.

Message Reinforcement. The videos reinforce the release with new, detailed information that drives home precisely why these two conservationists were chosen. It establishes credibility that few releases do while avoiding the duplication of information.

Demonstrated Credibility. The award program, which is a joint program between IP and The Conservation Fund, is a great example of business giving and philanthropic partnering with its own merit. With the documentaries, IP didn't flood the footage with executive cameos and company quotes (thank you), making it a fine example of credible corporate generosity.

I could list at least a dozen more reasons why this is a best practice without the benefit of seeing a work plan because the strategy is obvious and the tactical craftsmanship spot on. Sure, not every company will be willing to invest in digital media to enhance a news release, but I'm thrilled IP did.

Not only did IP demonstrate communication savvy, but it also gives us a glimpse into why we don't necessarily have to reinvent the news release to make it work with multiple audiences. Public relations professionals who are crafting "social media releases," please pay attention.


Monday, May 28

Doing Good:

Today,, one of the fastest-growing social blog directories on the Internet, has inspired hundreds of bloggers to do good by challenging them to write about and raise funds for, a non-profit organization that brings teachers and donors together to fund specific student projects that range from a "Magical Math Center" ($200) to "Cooking Across the Curriculum" ($1,100) program.

As evidenced by BlogPulse, the social awareness campaign is working with DonorsChoose receiving almost 15 times more exposure on the Internet than any previous day. If this awareness translates into donations, BlogCatalog members will be responsible for raising $25,000 for

Even if members do not make their donation mark, the campaign still succeeds in raising awareness for this worthwhile nonprofit. Such exposure is likely to translate into donations in the weeks and months ahead. is a member of the Omidyar Network. The Omidyar Network is a mission-based organization established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam.

“Internet social networks from MySpace to Facebook are receiving a ton of media and Internet attention, but we have yet to see an online social community come together to raise funds for a good cause,” said Antony Berkman, president of “We also see this as an opportunity to empower and recognize bloggers to collectively focus their blogs for good.”

Berkman said depending on the success of the challenge, will develop a community service page to host and promote more blog events in the near future. is the first social network directory to organize its members to raise funds for a specific non-profit organization.

To see how the challenge unfolded, visit the Discussion. There, you will find Berkman's original request as well as links to many of the blogs that have taken up this challenge.

Thursday, April 26

Selecting Stories: Content Editors

Story selection is never easy. Yesterday, there were dozens of news releases (on the wire and in our e-mail) and hundreds of stories in the news about companies working to raise funds for nonprofit organizations and worthwhile causes.

From this ocean of news, we settle on a single story every work day on our other blog. I thought it might be worthwhile to share why we selected yesterday's story at the National Business Community Blog (NBCB) as a glimpse into story selection.

While not all stories are chosen for the same reasons, we picked up on the BMW of North America's online auction to occupy the 18th man position on the BMW ORACLE Racing yacht because it is an excellent example of creative, non-traditional fundraising and exposure to benefit a worthwhile cause.

The prize is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Valencia, Spain, where the winning bidder will occupy the 18th man position on the BMW ORACLE Racing yacht during the fourth race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Semifinals on May 18. If the BMW ORACLE Racing team wins and advances to the finals, they will take the 18th man position to race with the team in the America's Cup finals.

The benefactor of the auction is the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer. (It's important to me because my grandmother, who raised me for many years, died of cancer when she was 59.) While she did not have breast cancer, it is my hope that every cancer cure will eventually lead to the eradication of all cancer.

That was not the only reason to highlight the good work BMW is doing. While smaller businesses might not have what really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it demonstrates how partnering with companies like eBay and organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure can make a difference.

The story is business focused. The primary objective of the blog is to share how businesses are helping non-profit organizations and encouraging volunteer efforts. It is our hope other businesses of all sizes will be inspired to duplicate these ideas.

The idea can be duplicated. Almost any business can partner with a local media outlet (or even eBay), a nonprofit organization, and, perhaps, other businesses to host an auction or even a drawing for any number of causes. That makes it a best practice, in my opinion. (eBay frequently teams with companies and charities to make this happen).

The story is somewhat unique. While businesses do not have to own a yacht or racing team to gain attention or be creative, this auction item is especially unique. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. That helps it stand out.

The release is well written. While it is not a criteria, it certainly helps us quickly share the news rather than rewriting it or attempting to follow up with the company. Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited resources to do more so better releases play a role. (The release does not over-promote the company either).

The cause is worthwhile. While there are many worthwhile causes, we usually focus those that provide a direct benefit. Susan G. Komen The Cure is a fine example. Local charities are fine too; size is less important than benefits provided.

For a different blog or publication, we might set different criteria, which addresses the importance of knowing the publication or blog a public relations firm might contact with a story. But for the NBCB, we keep it pretty simple.

In the days ahead, I might provide a more general list of what mainstream media frequently considers news, but in this case, it seemed a very specific selection process might be more useful.

If you want to learn more about this auction, this link will be active through April 30. I look forward to seeing how much is raised.


Friday, April 20

Giving For ROI: Wall Street Journal

As part of National Volunteer Week, I wanted to remind everyone that The Wall Street Journal picked up on a study from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) back in January. It deserves more attention. The study revealed corporate giving can increase company profits at a rate of return of 200 to 300 percent.

The study, examined 251 corporate donors and their giving contributions from 1989 to 2000. Led by Prof. Baruch Lev at New York University’s Stern School of Business, the researchers found that corporate giving is associated with subsequent sales growth, particularly when consumer perception is important.

(Side note: This information has been around for some time. As far back as 1999, one report, from Cone/Roper Cause Trends Report, noted that 76 percent of consumers said they would switch brands/retailers to one associated with a good cause if price and quality are equal.)

Keep in mind, most of the firms in the SSRN study spent 50 times more on marketing than philanthropy, and their average giving was only 0.1 percent of average sales revenue. Still, the rate of return on giving exceeds the investment and, depending on what a company considers measurable results, business giving and volunteer programs deliver substantial benefits inside as well as outside a company, especially for small businesses with limited resources.

Business Giving Benefits
• Improves customer loyalty; impacts profitability
• Increases employee morale, loyalty, and productivity
• Establishes new internal and external relationships
• Improves internal communication and teamwork
• Enhances employee recruitment and retention
• Encourages new approaches to strategic business objectives
• Positions a company as a leader in the community
• Increases brand recognition and community awareness

Employee Volunteer Benefits
• Strengthens employee leadership and decision-making skills
• Encourages teamwork to develop positive communication
• Enables unrelated departments to interact and network
• Reduces work-related stress and increases morale
• Creates a better quality of life where employees live and work
• Increases employee awareness and interest in community issues
• Generates increased sense of patriotism, citizenship and civic pride
• Develops a community-minded culture, improving customer service

You see, most programs don't have to be large, cumbersome, costly, or time-consuming to develop win-win-win solutions. The best starts can be as simple as thinking about what your company can do.

For example, just today, we reported on TXU Electric Delivery's partnership with the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The company relies on the center to rescue and remove birds, including blue herons, that have nested in electrical equipment.

To support the center, TXU Electric Delivery is raising funds by recycling printer ink cartridges and used cell phones; some employees have also volunteered to work on a number of special projects at the center this summer. It's simple, effective, and everyone wins: the company, the employees, the center, and the community.

While I'm not sure if TXU Electric Delivery has a formal giving program, I do see they've taken the first steps. Mostly, however, I just like their case study because it demonstrates how relatively easy it is for a company to develop some type of program, formal or informal.

Here are a few other tips we've picked up along the way from working with nonprofit organizations and dozens of companies:

Create A Statement: Some people might call it a mission for a strategic philanthropy program, but I suggest smaller companies or independent professionals keep it simple. The real goal is to define when and how your company can best give back.

Choose A Niche: Focus on a specific need or a few needs within your community, which will give your company a better chance to measure results within the community. You can choose something that is important to your employees or closely aligned with what your company provides.

Develop A Road Map: Many companies will call it a strategy, but what we're really talking about is a road map to help you get where you want to go. For example, one company we know has an advocacy campaign aimed at increasing its role as a specialty provider in elementary school curriculum.

You can learn more about business philanthropy on this blog. In 2005, I republished a three-year-old article I wrote on the topic for the publication we were managing at the time. Don't let the date fool you; or that the entire article is tucked in the comments section. (I posted it back when I was led to believe all blog posts had to be short ... darn those useless rules other people promote!)

The article, Business Philanthropy | The Impact of Giving, included interviews with Microsoft,, and the Business Community Investment Council.

I'll be happy to post more on business giving and community relations in the future, assuming there is an interest in the subject. Right now, we simply post best case studies on our other blog.

Next week, I'll be back to offering up some biting commentary on some communication disasters we missed this week, including a few sad thoughts on a few groups hoping to capitalize on the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Publicity, ho hum, indeed.


Monday, April 16

Giving Back: National Volunteer Week

This week, April 15-21, is National Volunteer Week, which is about thanking America's most valuable assets — volunteers — and calling the public's attention to all that they do to improve our communities.

Sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation and supported by USA Freedom Corps, this year's theme is "Inspire By Example." Copywrite, Ink. has long encouraged the businesses we work with, and communication-related companies within our field, to find new ways to give back to the community. We try to lead by example.

While we are currently engaged in several non-profit ventures, I would like to highlight just two projects today...

The first is our support of the National Business Community Blog, which is a nationwide community web log and news feed for businesses releasing information about their non-profit contributions and volunteer efforts.

Originally, we developed the blog for the state of Nevada, but recently decided to expand its exposure. As some of the most inspiring stories and charitable ideas from businesses (that could be implemented in Nevada or elsewhere) come from all over the country, it made sense.

Now, every work day, we share one example of a business giving back to its community or communities. Today, you can even learn more about National Volunteer Week.

The second, which will officially launch May 1, is our new agreement with the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada (Volunteer Center) to provide a merchandise fundraising solution. As a sponsor of the Volunteer Center, we are developing a merchandise product line to help raise funds for its great work in Nevada. A portion of all proceeds from merchandise sales will help support the organization.

We encourage you to visit its Web site. The Volunteer Center helps people deliver creative solutions to community problems through volunteerism.

They will be one of two non-profit organizations that will benefit from our online mall concept. Once both non-profit organizations are added, we will be inviting others to participate as well.

The basic concept is to provide product lines for several companies and non-profit organizations and highlight them all within one online store. Since each organization will assist in driving traffic to the site, all participating companies and organizations will receive greater exposure and a greater fund-raising potential.

We have already amassed a team of more than 20 designers, beyond our in-house team, who are willing to participate in developing products for non-profit organizations. Each of them will receive recognition for their work as their designs are accepted.

In conclusion, I will be posting again on National Volunteer Week this Friday, specifically addressing how business giving has a tangible ROI for businesses, regardless of size and resources. Until then, I ask that everyone take a moment to stop and recognize some volunteers that you know this week. There is no doubt that they make the world a better place.


Friday, January 12

Helping Companies Help People: NBCB

There are many bloggers (and companies) who want to change the world, hopefully for the better. Their reasons, motives, and methods are as different as the variety of causes they take up, whether it is within their community, industry, interests, or something else entirely, like tracking the seemingly infinite details in the life of Britney Spears. That's okay too.

My point is that everyone is passionate about something and, with luck, that passion will lead you to answer one of the most important questions you can ask yourself: is my fundamental motivation as a person to be a beneficial presence in the world … in the lives of all those I touch, whether it be at home, at work, in the community, and on the Internet?

It's not a trick question. I am not alluding to any myriad of issues, critiques, politics, religion, and whatnot. Nor am I asking anyone to ask it of someone else. It's a personal question void of all that. With luck, you can answer “I hope so.”

In June 2002, a diverse group of business leaders came together to create Business Strengthening America (BSA), which established a self-directed, multi-year, peer-to-peer effort to engage thousands of America's business leaders in a campaign to encourage civic engagement and service. If you visit the site, you'll see it's largely static, with the freshest content dating back to 2003. What is not static, however, is the idea nor are the hundreds of non-profit endeavors of more than 700 companies and business organizations that joined BSA years ago.

Much more active and up-to-date is USA Freedom Corps, which is an excellent resource for individuals who want to become involved in something. It's endorsed by President George W. Bush, but you don't have to like him to appreciate the larger body of work. In fact, a good part of the concept came from AmeriCorps, which was the one program that President Bill Clinton (it's okay, you don't have to like him either) asked President Bush to keep around. On that, they agreed, even if their parties did not.

Anyway, I know a little about AmeriCorps because I serve as a state commissioner in Nevada. My experience on this commission as well as dozens of other non-pofit organizations and associations is what drives me to maintain another, much less read, blog called the Nevada Business Community Blog. In truth, it's probably less of blog than a newsfeed, highlighting at least one company's charitable action every day (with luck).

The blog doesn't take much effort, really. And, I would strongly support anyone duplicating the idea in their home state: a community web log and news feed for businesses releasing information about their non-profit contributions and volunteer efforts. Why? Well, there really are many ways to change the world and by sharing a daily example of business giving, it might inspire more companies to do so. After all, strategic philanthropy, a concept and practice of business giving has existed in the United States since the early 1950s, has always received a return that exceeds investment. Some companies just don't know that. They also don't know that, if done correctly, strategic philanthropy fits nicely into a strategic communication plan.

Who knows? Perhaps business giving could even inspire some employees (or other interested individuals) to funnel some of their more creative passions into other activities that have a direct, positive, and lasting impact on people, animals, the environment, or whatever else they might think up. I've taken up a few over the years; too many sometimes, I am told. But that's not so bad.

You see, I always hope such efforts (even when I use a living case study in communication as an example on this blog) will eventually lead me to the same answer at the end of the day, a chance to say “I hope so.”

Sunday, April 10

Creating A Community Blog

On Friday, it was my privilege to speak about how blogs are transforming everything we know about business communication to about 35 professional communicators and UNLV communication students. The luncheon was hosted by the International Association of Business Communicators at the Las Vegas Country Club.

Although technological limitations prevented me from sharing our preliminary PowerPoint presentation, attendees were still very interested in the data we had pulled together and our analysis on the impact that blogs are having on communication. Given the time constraints of working without a visual presentation, I was only able to touch briefly on the idea that the application of blogs as a strategic communication tool is still in its infancy.

Case in point: today, my company launched the first phase of a new blog that will be maintained as a partnership with the Nevada Commission for National & Community Service, Inc., a non-profit organization that administers AmeriCorps programs in Nevada (yes, the same commission I posted about last Wednesday). The purpose of the Nevada Business Community Blog (NBCB) is two-fold: recognize the dedication, commitment, and determination of businesses supporting non-profit organizations throughout Nevada and to promote increased business giving and volunteerism throughout the state.

The idea is one that I've given considerable thought to for several months; creating an online news feed for companies that give back to their community in Nevada as well as companies that are interested in developing a business giving program on any level. Sure, this idea has been around for some time, but never in the form of a statewide web log, which is ideal for the abundance of community service-related news releases sent out daily by companies throughout our state.

It's my hope that companies that have yet to embrace business giving will find the practice is much more prevalent and worthwhile than previously thought, which is why there is no cost to Nevada businesses to share their non-profit related news on the blog. If you're interested in a living example of how blogs can be applied to do good for our businesses and communities, visit NBCB. We've launched the first phase and will begin posting releases from the business community beginning April 15.

I would also like to offer special thanks to my partner (vice president of Copywrite, Ink.), Kim Becker, for bringing blogs to my attention almost a year ago and to Shawn Lecker-Pomaville, executive director of the Nevada Commission for National & Community Service, Inc., for embracing the idea and adding it as yet another way the commission can engage Nevadans of all ages and backgrounds in community-based service.

Wednesday, April 6

Sharing Community Service

Yesterday, along with Craig Warner, state program director for the Corporation for National and Community Service, I had the honor of representing the Nevada Commission for National & Community Service (NCNCS), which oversees seven AmeriCorps programs in Nevada, to recognize three outstanding individuals at the National Service Summit in Las Vegas. The awards were for outstanding service through either AmeriCorps, VISTA or SeniorCorps.

As vice chair of the NCNCS, I was asked to recognize the AmeriCorps award recipient, Raul Gomez, who serves as a AmeriCorps member at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas. Over the last couple years, he has developed several dozen programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs to benefit area youth.

Even more amazing to me, he is one of 160 highly skilled AmeriCorps members in Nevada who dedicate between three and 12 months of their lives to community service in exchange for modest living conditions and a small education award so they may go on to college upon completion of their civic contribution. It's an excellent program, one that I've been thrilled to be part of since Gov. Kenny Guinn first appointed me to the commission almost four years ago.

More than any other reason, my motivation to serve is because of individuals like Gomez. Their dedication, humility, and passion to help others is nothing less than inspirational. Collectively, these individuals have helped more than 194,000 Nevadans during the 2003-04 fiscal year and they do it with minimal program funding, recognition, or reward.

As far as return on investment for the state, few programs come close to AmeriCorps in Nevada, which is involved in everything from increasing literacy and supporting at-risk youth, to providing job training and rehabilitation for homeless veterans, and environmental programs that restore our state's natural resources while reducing the risk of forest fires near rural and metropolitan areas.

Considering Nevada often ranks near the bottom in terms of overall charitable giving when compared to most states, I have always found it encouraging that AmeriCorps members and hundreds of other volunteers throughout Nevada remain unwavering in their commitment to make a difference. It makes me wonder, perhaps, if we should sometimes pay more attention to such positive examples and stellar role models in our state and less time on statistics that frequently ask the wrong questions.

Tuesday, February 1

Adding Value With Philanthropy

Last week, I received a news release from a friend of mine at Bank of America announcing that the Bank of America Foundation gave more than $800,000 in financial support to 83 agencies in Nevada last year. Bank of America volunteers also logged more than 3,500 hours in the community. Nationwide, the company's foundation contributed more than $109.5 million in cash to nonprofit organizations.

Although Copywrite, Ink. is a small company in terms of size, we also formalized a corporate giving program a few years ago. In most cases, we provide nonprofit and professional organizations with in-kind communication services that greatly exceed any monetary contributions our company could allocate. Last year, we assisted 16 organizations by providing an in-kind services that were valued at more than 20 percent of our gross income. I mention this not to 'toot our own horn,' but to illustrate how even the smallest companies can develop beneficial giving programs.

The Bank of America release also reminded me of an article I wrote a few years ago about business giving, which is still relevant today. I've included the article (featuring interviews with Microsoft,, and the Business Community Investment Council) as a comment to this post with the hope that it might inspire a few ideas for small business owners. Our company has also assisted several companies in developing giving programs as part of their overall communication strategy. Enjoy.

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