Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2008

Learning to Give

There he is at your fancy gala; rich, successful, and bored out of his mind. He’s got an MBA from an Ivy League school, an undergrad in economics and a wife… who studied art history… and who drags him kicking and screaming to your events. He’s worth a mint, but the most you may ever get from him is the price of the gala’s tickets.

Is it even possible to get this Philistine to change his mind about your cause?

The answer has as much to do with how people learn and what kind of ideas they are exposed to as it does how much money they have to give.

(Read more about the learning side of this equation on my blog on informal learning called The Learner's Guild.)

A yet-to-be published study by Professor Raymond Fisman from Columbia Business School… along with Shachar Kariv of UC Berkeley and Daniel Markovitz of the Yale Law School… suggests that even mature students can change their minds when presented with powerful ideas.

In this study Fisman and his co-authors Shachar Kariv and Daniel Mark…

You Are What You Learn or Are You?

Early this month Forbes ran a guest column by Columbia Business School Professor Raymond Fisman that is strangely relatable to both cause-related marketing and informal learning, the topics of my two blogs.

The Forbes headline describes it beautifully; “You Are What You Learn.”

I’ve posted on what Fisman’s findings mean to informal learners on my blog on informal learning called The Learner’s Guild.

Tomorrow in this space I’ll post on what Fisman’s study might mean to fundraisers and to those of us who practice cause-related marketing.

So why the brain in the box on the left? Fisman’s study supports two seemingly diametrically-opposed conclusions. The first is that your training determines who you are. The second is that you can change all that.

Stay tuned...

Social Networking/Charity Mashups

Cause-Related Marketing in the Newest Social Media

In the last quarter three charity/social networking mashups have crossed my desk, each with their own distinctive tang. All three are in beta, that is, they’re works in progress. All are for-profit endeavors. All could benefit from a little ‘network effect’ love.

The network effect aka Metcalf’s Law postulates that the value of a network is proportionate to the square of the number of users. That is, a network only starts demonstrating value after reaching the critical mass described by the equation.

In other words, each of these outfits has some selling to do.

uPlej. With an approach that could probably only come from Utah is uPlej, which owes its business model as much to multi-level marketing as it does to Facebook.

Here’s how it works: you sign up as a member of uPlej and designate a charity, create your own profile, alert your personal network to your new uPlej page and UPlej dings your credit card for $4.99 a month. Of that, $4 goes…

Public Policy Cause-Related Marketing

On May 16 Oliver’s Artisan Breads in Los Angeles announced that it will donate 10 percent of net profits from their store line of breads to the Bread for the World Institute, the first case of a CRM campaign benefiting an advocacy and public policy charity I can think of.

Oliver’s Artisan Breads sells a line of organic bread in stores like Whole Foods and Wild Oats (which have merged) in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, southwestern Nevada and Washington state. The term of the agreement is for one year with an option to renew. Oliver’s has guaranteed an undisclosed minimum donation.

The money will go to support the Bread for the World Institute, a 501(c)(3) public charity division of Bread for the World. Bread for the World is an advocacy group, a “nationwide Christian movement that seeks justice for the world’s hungry people by the lobbying our nation’s decision-makers.” The Bread for the World Institute has more of public policy bent, engaging “in research and education on policie…

Let's Get Physical With Our Brains

For most of my life the best analogy that science had to offer about the brain was that by the time you were 35 or so everything your genes could give your brain was cemented into place.

And then that block of cement was basically dropped into a fast flowing river where time (and maybe chemicals) eroded your brain. And then, sometime later, you died.

Cheery, huh?

But for the last two decades especially researchers have grown less deterministic in their view about the human brain.

Increasingly, science is showing that brain cells and the connections between them continue to grow over time. But like muscles those cells and connectors can atrophy. And like muscles, neurons (brain cells), ganglia and synapses can be trained and even expanded.

How do you do that? Check my posting at my blog on informal learning called The Learner’s Guild for some real-world suggestions.

Cell Phone Fundraising

There you are walking down Lake Shore Drive past the rising Chicago Spire building eating a Chicago Red Hot, when you’re struck by a billboard with a message from, say, MercyCorps, asking for help providing relief to the cyclone-battered people in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta. But the sign doesn’t feature a website URL, a toll-free telephone number or even an address to send a check. Instead the sign tells you to text the word ‘Give’ to a number using your cell phone and a $5 donation will be made.

To the Japanese or Europeans that scenario probably sounds not so much futuristic as so 2006.

But it’s new in the United States, made possible by lower fees from the cell phone carriers. If analysts are correct, cell phone fundraising may be a prominent future fundraising channel for charities with a clear mission, strong brand recognition and the ability to effectively get their message to their audience.

What’s the potential upside of this mobile phone fundraising in the United States?

“$100 mil…

Home Dept and Habitat for Humanity Shack Up

In the last few months The Home Depot, has made a giant right turn in its charitable endeavors and landed in bed with Habitat for Humanity in a five-year, $30 million sponsorship deal, a little more than a year after CEO Frank Blake got his job. It’s a familiar place for Blake, whose wife, Mrs. Liz Blake is a Senior Vice President at Habitat for Humanity.

Mr. and Mrs. Blake told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that they recused themselves in the negotiations between the two parties. I’m sure they did. And to be completely accurate, the relationship is actually between The Home Depot Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3), and Habitat for Humanity. Moreover Mr. Blake doesn’t hold a position on the Foundation’s 10-member board which consists entirely of Home Depot employees; I counted one executive vice president, three senior vice presidents, and six lesser lights.

But to be frank, a CEO doesn’t need to have a vote to influence how the vote turns out on a board where everyone, in effect, work…

Can a Handheld Game Really Give Your Brain a Workout?

There’s a certain extravagance to the claims made the makers of two handheld games from Nintendo and Radica. Use our products regularly, they suggest, and not only will your brain get a workout, but you may even be able to turn back the clock on your gray matter!

Reporters and critics who had initially given a pass to Nintendo’s ‘Brain Age,’ and by extension the less ambitious Radica ‘Brain Games,’ are now looking at these games with a more gimlet-eye.

In my latest post to my blog on informal learning called The Learner’s Guild, I look at the two games and draw my own conclusions.

High-Dollar Cause-Related Marketing

Inspiration Bracelet for the Parkinsons Unity Walk

Thanks to Lance Armstrong and his Lance Armstrong Foundation, we all know how to do a bracelet campaign. You pick a supplier from the hundreds or even thousands out there. You try to find a color and a saying that seem emblematic of your cause, and you sell it for $1 at your charity’s events or online.

[BTW: Today, Tuesday May 13, is LiveSTRONG Day]

If by now plastic/silicone/rubber bracelets seem a little ‘me-to’ then consider this bracelet campaign from New York City artist-sculpture David Stevenson benefiting the Parkinsons Unity Walk. When you buy the sterling silver bracelet at the left called ‘Inspiration’ for $175, 40 percent (or $70) goes to Parkinson’s Disease research.

The Unity Walk, which takes place each April in Central Park, was inspired by Marlene Kahan, executive director of American Society for Magazine Editors, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2004.

The Unity Walk people commissioned the bracelet from Steven…

IBM CEO Survey: Large Increase of Investment in Corporate Social Responsibility Likely Over Next 3 Years

Buttonhole a CEO

CEOs worldwide plan to increase their investments 25 percent over the next three years to better to better understand and reach socially-minded customers, according to a worldwide survey of CEOs released this month by IBM’s Global Business Service Unit.

On February 22, I wrote about IBM’s case for corporate social responsibility (CSR) based on a survey of 250 CEOs. This second, larger survey of CEOs called the “Global CEO Study” tallied results from 1103 CEOs from 40 countries and 32 industries using face-to-face interviews.

That 25 percent increase in investments represents the largest percentage increase of any trend identified in the study.

Among other pertinent findings:
CEOs believe that customer expectations around corporate social responsibility are increasing, and that CSR will play an important role in differentiating enterprises in the future. More than ever a company’s CSR profile matters to customers. And while ‘green’ initiatives are top of mind, the CEOs say …

Learn Something and Never Forget It

It sounds like a cheap e-mail come-on, or the hyperbole of a late-night informercial, but it is possible to learn something once and never forget it again.

It's based on science first identified 123 years ago by a rigorous German researcher, and improved upon by a brilliant Polish scientist and eccentric who turned the discovery into software.

After you master it, you can sell your library of books on eBay, because you won't need it anymore!

But for the Polish scientist, Piotr Wozniak, there's been a catch. To read more about 'Informal Learning and the Eternal Memory' go to my other blog, The Learner's Guild.

Why Even Absurd Cause-Related Marketing Has its Place

Buy a Bikini, Help Cure Cancer

New York City (small-d) fashion designer Shoshonna Lonstein Gruss may have one of the more absurd cause-related marketing campaigns I’ve come across lately. When you buy the bikini or girls one-piece swimsuit at Bergdorf-Goodman in New York shown at the left all sales “proceeds” benefit Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Look past the weak ‘proceeds’ language, which I always decry, and think for a moment about the incongruities of the sales of swimsuits benefiting the legendary Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Cancer has nothing to do swimming or swimsuits or summering in The Hamptons for that matter. And it’s not clear from her website why Shoshanna, the comely lass who once adorned the arm of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, has chosen the esteemed cancer center to bestow her gifts, although a web search shows that she’s supported its events for years.

Lesser critics would say that the ridiculousness of it all is a sign that cause-related marketing is quickly h…

Cause-Related Marketing and High-End Interior Design

By now cause-related marketing has penetrated almost every kind of market. Here’s more proof that cause-related marketing finding a home at the high end: when you buy a rug from Dan Golden Inc., a New York City designer and maker of high-end hand-tufted wool rugs, the company will buy a sheep for a family in a developing country from Oxfam.

Golden’s work, which is sometimes in the form of the cheeky ‘rug-cartoon’ like the piece on the left and sometimes more straightforward, sell at retail starting around $3,000 and range north of $13,000 depending on the size.

The Dan Golden website is, naturally, rather artsy and the mention of the campaign is quite subtle. But that befits the audience and the artist. Since Golden’s rugs are made of sheep’s wool, a sheep is the right animal to donate. It can be sheared and the wool sold or bartered. Sheep can also be milked.

The cause, too, is a good fit even though Oxfam is not known primarily for its animal donation efforts. Heifer International has …