Guest post by Denys Resnick, Vice President, Strategic Programs, NineSigma
Grand Challenges marry the mission and message that are central to nonprofits whose aim is to make the world a better place. They focus on a cause and they achieve a positive impact through their:
Grand Challenges are an ideal vehicle to support this dual mission because they mirror this two pronged structure. They are comprised of:
Through a Grand Challenge, a nonprofit can create a unified outreach and campaign to both its supporters and a technical, problem solving community. What does that look like?
Let’s say that I am Director of a nonprofit focused on AIDS research. A portion of my funds are dedicated to research in a variety of approaches for treating and curing AIDS, and that research is taking place at well-known universities. But my central mission today is to create a vaccine, and we have exhausted all known research channels.
Meanwhile, my supporter community is AIDS patients and those that care about them, or those who have lost a loved one to AIDS. In order to raise money from a broader community of potential funders, I am competing with other AIDS organizations, hospice care givers, hospitals, cancer and diabetes and MS research organizations, environmental causes…. Once I leave my inner ring of most passionate supporters, how do I create passion for my mission when there are so many worthy causes? I need to create a vision that engenders passion from a broader support community.
With a Grand Challenge contest, I can engage the world in seeking solutions for the development of an effective AIDS vaccine. “Imagine a world where AIDS is like chicken pox, which can be eliminated by a simple vaccine.” It is a bold and inspirational vision that will capture the imagination of the general public. If I also offer a significant “prize,” I add a layer of intrigue that motivates individuals to be part of that breakthrough. “Contribute to a world without AIDS” inspires me to add this organization to my passion list.
The Grand Challenge also inspires the technical medical solution provider community on two levels. They also are motivated to contribute to changing the world, and the psychic value should not be understated. In addition, the significant prize justifies applying the resources of the organization to compete for the research dollars. Successful Grand Challenges provide a focused technical statement that clearly states the need and criteria by which proposals will be evaluated. In this example, the focus of the AIDS challenge was on protein stabilization, a contributor to ongoing AIDS vaccine research.
Nonprofits are driven by the potential to advance their mission with an innovative solution. When that issue is founded in technology or science, a Grand Challenge contest is a highly effective way to tap into the world’s experts and scientists. This compelling Grand Challenge message also builds passion with a wider community around the organization’s mission. A Grand Challenges leverages the resources and commitment from the non-profit organization to bring about significant and positive change to the world.
Guest post by Tim Sinclair, co-founder of U-Be-Livin-Smart.
“We Feed 400,000 people a day and we have a need to feed about 1.2 million,” said Lee Cheney, Food Fund Sourcing Manager, The Food Bank for New York City. Lee was taking us on a tour of their facility in Harlem. I was listening to her but was frankly distracted looking at the long line of people waiting for food. I was watching a little girl playing with her Mom in line as they waited. She was completely oblivious to her surroundings and looked to have come straight from school. I thought to myself, this is a way bigger problem than we had imagined when planning our mission.
Tim Sinclair, co-founder of U-Be-Livin-Smart
You see, just last week our company, U-Be-Livin-Smart, officially launched our Feed 88 Million program. To kick off the program, we donated 18,000 of our healthy, nutrient-dense muffins to hungry New Yorkers at the Food Bank for New York City. As a child I remember vividly how our local food bank helped my Mom as she struggled to raise six of us. To say we have a problem in North America feels inadequate. It is like a slow motion train crash happening all over North America and life is so busy we just don’t see the steel and cars collapsing into one another.
For so many people in our own communities, hunger and food insecurity are an everyday reality. According to the USDA, about 50 million Americans live in food insecure households. In addition, one in eight Canadian households experiences food insecurity according to a recent report by the Canadian Institute of Health Research. With our food donation program, us at U-Be-Livin-Smart have made it our goal to feed 88 million North Americans in the next decade who are underprivileged and undernourished. The reason we have publicly declared this goal is twofold: 1) To humanize a problem that feels at best marginalized and at worst completely lost in our society because there is no context for the issue, and 2) To allow consumers to become involved and have a tangible impact in a very simple and small way, every time they make a food purchase decision. Our modest program (the need is far greater then our program) is not flying at 100,000 feet but rather grounded in a grass roots approach. Our product is donated in the same community a purchaser lives in so the ability for the individual to see his or her “small and simple impact” is there within their community. All too often problems like feeding undernourished, underprivileged people get aggrandized to the point that we as individual consumers can’t really see how our “small and simple choice” impacts anything. There is always a nagging cynicism about whether our action “is really helping” as it often is not personalized and that may make us feel guilty as consumers. Without bureaucracy or hoopla our consumers and our company have fed over 60,000 people since January 2013 and will continue to do so as our brand grows. The U-Be-Livin-Smart brand is simply about our consumers enjoying great tasting nutrient-dense foods while at the same time knowing that their purchase is feeding underprivileged, undernourished people in their own community.
Having worked in the food business for over 25 years, in some great organizations like Campbell’s Soup, E&J Gallo Winery and Gordon Food Service, I felt like I was old enough to have learned some things as well as having made a boat load of mistakes (read – learning and by the way still making them) and young enough to have the energy and naiveté to think I can still help change the world in some small way. In January 2013, I co-founded U-Be-Livin-Smart and began making and selling healthy, affordable, nutrient-dense food products to retailers in North America. That is how our consumers and we at U-Be-Livin-Smart have already fed over 60,000 people in North America.
Baked right into our business model (pun intended), Feed 88 Million, is more than just corporate social responsibility. It’s a living, breathing part of our ethos. We know how hard it is to find foods that taste good but are also nutritious and we believe we can make a difference.
How does Feed 88 Million work? For every package of any of our products bought in a community, our consumer (through their purchase) and we at U-Be-Livin-Smart feed a needy individual in that community through a nearby food bank. As I said above, what’s unique about our program is that consumers can really make an impact in their own communities just by making a food brand choice. The program is well underway and has already gained a presence in major cities such as, Dallas, Buffalo, Toronto and Vancouver. Every month we are bringing the program to new regions, in hopes of achieving our goal of feeding 88 million underprivileged and undernourished children and adults over the next decade.
I think one thing in particular that sets U-Be-Livin-Smart’s program apart from other food initiatives out there, is that our consumers donations actually deliver a quality product that tastes good and is highly nutritious. Being 100% nutrient-dense, the “Karma”ffin product delivers nine grams of protein, one whole serving of fruits and vegetables, four grams of fiber and only has 130 calories per muffin. Not to mention these muffins are gluten and nut free, have no added oil, salt, sugar or additives and preservatives. With a lot of help from consumers and our own initiative we really do think our products can make a difference in communities across North America.
Tim Sinclair, co-founder of U-Be-Livin-Smart, has more than 25 years of food marketing and business experience. Over the past 12 years he has served as CEO at Nealanders International as well as Bridge Brand Foods. He was also General Manager for Campbell’s Soup Grocery Division and has worked in senior management positions at Campbell’s Soup, E&J Gallo Wines and Gordon Food Service.
U-Be-Livin-Smart seeks to make affordable, healthy, great tasting, nutrient–dense products while supporting the nutritional needs of 88 million underprivileged children and families in North America.
Guest post from John M. Suddes of Ching.
For more than 25 years, I’ve been honored to work with non-profit organizations through our professional fundraising firm, Suddes Partners. In the last few years, I began thinking about the impact our increasingly digital society has on Suddes Partners’ clients and the non-profit industry. Through my conversations with other industry leaders and passionate charity executives, a theme began to emerge – the world has become more viral and accessible, creating a ripe opportunity to expand and optimize the traditional fundraising model. It’s time to harness digital advances and create viral tools that engage donors and amplify charitable missions.
Consumers are spending more time (and money) online at an increasing rate, and this e-commerce trend is creating a lucrative opportunity for the non-profit community. Here’s how- consumers will spend approximately $262 billion this year in online purchases, and continue to grow at a compounded rate of 10% per year. In many cases, the online retailer pays a third party a referral fee for the purchase. So it made sense to turn a non-profit organization into that third party, referring supporters to their favorite online retail sites and earning that fee itself. This lead to the development of Ching – the first purchase-driven fundraising tool designed specifically for non-profits.
In 2013, with the support of many friends and partners we launched Ching as a tool for non-profits to use in their fundraising efforts. By partnering directly with non-profits, Ching provides a customized technology platform that allows these organizations to earn a percentage of their supporters’ purchases from top online retailers such as Amazon, Nordstrom, and Macy’s. In addition to the added new revenue all non-profits need (and desire), Ching also provides the non-profit with an opportunity to engage existing donors on a regular basis and provides an easy way to cultivate new supporters, which all of us in development strive to do. Further, this tool is free for both non-profit organizations and the supporters who use it.
Ching’s first partnership is with Florida-based Food For Thought Outreach, a charity supporting students who often go hungry outside of school hours. Food For Thought founder, Tiffanie Shelton, began providing weekly meals to six children in her community and has now successfully grown the organization with the ability to provide for over 150 children in her area across four different schools. I knew that an organization like Food For Thought Outreach, that strives to provide for those in need week after week, would be the perfect first partner to utilize this tool. This organization needs a constant stream of funding throughout the year and now with Ching, their fundraising efforts go beyond local events. Every penny adds up, and as little as $2.50 can fill a backpack with food for one child in need. Food For Thought Outreach supporters can click here for more information and to sign-up.
Plain and simple – we fundraising professionals need to be doing more to help non-profits. It’s my hope that Ching goes a long way in moving fundraising forward. I hope you’ll join us in sharing Ching with your favorite organization – together we can “change giving for good.”
John M. Suddes has spent the past 25+ years helping non-profit organizations achieve unprecedented fundraising breakthroughs through his firm, Suddes Partners. In 2013, John founded Ching to continue his life mission of developing creative and effective funding solutions for nonprofits. Find John on Twitter @JohnMSuddes and @GiveChing.
Guest post from Eleanor Hall, Executive Director, Connected Potential.
“There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring.” – Paul Hawken
We are only ever as good as the people that show up to support us. Clear and meaningful connection with others drives our ability to succeed in our goals, and to aspire to accomplish the unthinkable. To succeed we need to believe in ourselves, but even more importantly than that, we need others to believe in us. That belief is the difference between an idea that is realized, and one that stalls out.
At a time when we need creative thinkers, innovators and people dedicated to making change in their communities, an enormous number of people are getting turned away from meaningful work in a competitive marketplace – particularly young adults, who statistically are un- and under-employed at more than twice the national average. Although young adults have a strong desire to effect change at home and in the world, many find it difficult to engage in meaningful work based on a lack of resources, lack of personal/professional networks, and a lack of available entry-level positions that challenge them to be bold, innovative, and work with others to serve the public good.
We are building a community of care and connection for young adults and professionals eager to make a difference. Connected Potential enlists the powerful potential of young adults in creating change in their communities and in the world by connecting them with business advisors and professional mentors to get community-driven projects off the ground. For young adults, we provide the guidance and support needed to build important skills and deliver on their ideas for positive change. For professionals, we provide high-impact, low-commitment opportunities to use their personal and professional skills to make a significant difference.
We have the opportunity to change the way we connect with each other to solve problems. We started Connected Potential because we believe in the promise of this generation to address contemporary challenges and improve the world. We provide an open door of opportunity for young adults committed to making a positive difference by building a community that is focused on collaboration, not competition, and that brings people of all sectors together around a shared vision for change.
We are raising money to start an early stage seed fund to help support the fundraising efforts of those that come through our program. Please support our Indiegogo campaign, and learn more about how you can get involved at connectedpotential.org.
Questions? Thoughts? Be in touch! @ConnectedChange
Sue Thompson, a Montana-based accountant, has organized a free, virtual conference on financial planning to help individuals master their money.
As the author of Your Mark On The World and 925 Ideas to Help You Save Money, Get Out of Debt and Retire A Millionaire So You Can Leave Your Mark on the World Sue invited me to participate in the program.
Each of the 21 segments of the program is comprised of an interview with a financial expert. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my passion for doing good empowered by wise financial management with a new audience.
You can listen to all of the segments at no charge by visiting Sue’s program site here. The program begins on October 28, 2013.
My book 925 Ideas to Help You Save Money, Get Out of Debt and Retire A Millionaire So You Can Leave Your Mark on the World is available for free every day at Amazon.com.
David Driggs, Senior Vice President at Fund Raising Counsel, Inc. (FRCI), says that the mission of FRCI is to help nonprofits succeed. He’s been in fundraising his entire career.
On Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 5:00 Eastern, David will join me live to discuss his work and provide some guidance for those in the fundraising world.
From David’s LinkedIn page:
David has more than twenty-six years of experience in non-profit development and management. His expertise includes comprehensive campaign management, human resources, marketing, development systems, volunteer board liaison, budget, and staff management. David’s experience encompasses a myriad of fund raising programs, such as planned giving, proposal development, corporation and foundation relations, annual fund, special events, research, communications, social networking and regional development.
Most recently, David served as the Associate Vice President for University Advancement at Utah State University, where he played a key role in planning and implementing the university’s $200 million comprehensive campaign, which has raised to date over $300 million. At USU he managed the frontline professional development staff, leading them to record numbers in dollars raised, new donors, and levels of personal contact with alumni and friends. He implemented effective development systems that allowed for measurable accountability, clearer communication, and operational excellence.
Prior to USU, David was the Director of Major Gifts at the University of Utah, closely involved in two major comprehensive campaigns. He also served for five years as the Director of Development for Pioneer Theatre Company, a fully professional regional theatre housed at the University of Utah, during which time a major renovation was completed and contributed revenue increased by more than 20% each year. David spent the first seven years of his professional development career in New York City, at the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America.
Readers may download copies of my books Your Mark On The World and Crowdfunding for Social Good for free by subscribing to this blog.
Courtney will join me for a live discussion about her cause and her swimming on October 10, 2013 at Noon Eastern. Tune in here:
In a statement, Courtney’s publicist explained:
Courtney Paulk, a shareholder at Hirschler Fleisher (Richmond, Va.), is well on her way to raising $10,000 for the American Heart Association by attempting to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. As of July 1, only 69 people are known to have completed the Triple Crown, and we believe that Paulk may be the first female American attorney to earn a Triple Crown. I believe that she would be able to contribute a post on her extreme efforts and the cause by which she is motivated that is both compelling and inspirational for readers of the Your Mark on the World blog.
Paulk will compete in the third and final leg of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming on Sept. 10, 2013, by swimming across the Catalina Channel, a 20.2-mile course in Southern California. For portions one and two, she successfully completed a 21-mile swim across the English Channel between England and France, as well as a 28.5-mile swim around Manhattan. The conditions of each swim are extreme and challenging (just this month, a woman died during her swim across the English Channel).
Paulk’s inspiration to swim the Catalina Channel and to tackle such an enormous physical feat is very personal: In 2010, a friend and fellow Hirschler Fleisher attorney, Jan Thomas, suffered a stroke. Since her recovery, Thomas has dedicated her life to raising awareness of the risks associated with cardiovascular disease. Inspired by her colleague, Paulk chose to make her intense swimming endeavors work towards the cause of cardiovascular disease by raising significant amounts of money for the American Heart Association.
According to Paulk, the mental strength and persistence needed to cross major waterways is great training ground for her litigation practice. Paulk reiterates this theme as she shares her adventures of swimming the English Channel to civic and community groups, in a presentation so inspirational that it has brought grown men to tears.
Readers may download copies of my books Your Mark On The World and Crowdfunding for Social Good for free by subscribing to this blog.
Ann-Marie Bland’s motto is “Think Good. Do Good. Feel Good.” She’ll be joining me live to talk about her work on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 4:00 Eastern.
Ann-Marie’s story, from ThinkDoGood.com:
The book title pulled me in. “Always Looking UP!” I saw the picture of Michael J. Fox and knew he had been struggling with Parkinson’s. Such a positive message seemed like an oxymoron. I took it off the shelf and dumped it in the cart.
I was at a point of evaluating my career. Having worked in the technology industry for 20 years, I was looking for a challenge and was interested in finding a way to use my “gifts” towards something “good”. It was around this time that I began to work for a social impact company who taught computer skills to underserved markets (primarily seniors and people in poverty).
I had incredible experiences at Connected Living, but one in particular was an “a-ha” moment. In the evening, while at a senior assisted living center, our team secretly set up a video call (Skype) for one of the residents from the elderly home. The call was with his daughter and his 3 year old grandson who he had never met except through photos.
At the moment that grandfather looked at the computer screen and saw his daughter and grandson, it was magic. He had tears dripping down and there wasn’t a dry eye in the packed room. The man’s life changed for the good in seconds. It was heartwarming to watch.
It got me thinking. It was an example where technology provided something so special and I thought, “there is a time and place where technology enables true magic or moments that touch the heart” or in other words, “technology with heart”. So I began to think of other examples where technology could be used in ways that significantly changed people’s lives in positive ways.
As I read Michael’s book, I was in awe by the amazing power of his positive, optimistic thinking. A $1 Billion business (Happiness), it’s clear that people in the world were in search of something better, “in all the wrong places”. Money, big houses, extravagant lifestyles, on and on. Michael’s happiness was not coming from things, it was coming from within. It was his attitude. And he chose to be an optimist.
One of Michael’s mission trips went to the Himalayan country Bhutan. During his visit he felt serene and struggled less with his Parkinson symptoms. "It was a place not with less problems, in fact, the living is atrocious. But the people see things as good, and they are happy.“ Their country is progressive in one way. They measure happiness in addition to GNP (Gross National Product). Maybe someday we will too.
All of this led me down the path of more reading and research. Michael stated in his book that he attributed his positive attitude and happiness to helping others. All the research supported it. One person helping another increases happiness for both parties. So off I headed to find service work for our family, something local that we could do on the weekend. We did several searches on the internet without finding much. In fact, we had a difficult time finding needs or volunteer opportunities in the area. It was more difficult than it should be…….
So Think Good was created with a mission to create "technology with heart” that makes the act of helping each other simplified, centralized and fun. By doing so, the ease of helping each other, spreading good, positive thoughts will ultimately make the world a little happier.
Will you join us?
Think Good. Do Good. Feel Good.
Ann-Marie Bland has been involved with forward thinking technologies and brands for her 20 year career. Five years ago she decided to take her expertise and apply it to social good. She founded Think Good, LLC as a social innovation company with the goal of making it easier for people to help each other. Long term, she sees a future where Think Good is the brand that represents what it means to be socially responsible. You can view her professional background here.
Personally, Ann-Marie loves people, books, reading, studying the future, the ocean or lake, the sun and nature. Ann-Marie is a wife and mom to a daughter who inspired her to be socially responsible. In fact, she named the company.
Guest post by James Cummiskey of Cima Coffee Farms.
The U.S. coffee market is a $40 billion industry. Coffee demand is at an all-time high. Despite this, there is a crisis in the coffee industry.
The most important people in this process, the farmers, are not making enough money to survive. The average pound of coffee grown in Latin America costs $1.65 to make. Yet farmers are routinely getting only $1.20 per pound on the commercial market.
Coffee producers and workers are kept in a cycle of poverty by industry dynamics designed to shift the profits to the multitude of intermediaries between the seed and the cup (wet miller, dry miller, exporter, importer, roaster, retailer). This situation is untenable.
Fortunately, we believe we’ve found the answer that turns the supply chain on its ear. A socially-sustainable model, which rewards farmers for the excellent coffee they grow, and rewards our investors who make the entire process possible.
We are Cima Coffee Farms, Tierra Cafetera, and Coffee LatinAmerica, sister companies that make it possible for individual investors to own titled land on a working Latin American coffee farm. We buy farms that produce specialty coffee in the top five percent in terms of quality.
Then we institute best growing practices and sell the coffee on the lucrative specialty-coffee market instead of the commercial market. Where once farmers were selling their coffee for $1.20/pound, our coffee sells for $3/pound or more. We control the entire supply chain and are able to deliver a nice return for our investors as well as dramatically increased pay and benefits for the farmers.
This is the essence of what we are calling “Socially Sustainable” coffee. The integration of profitable agribusiness with social change enables a higher probability of success for achieving our goals. We collect survey data all over Latin America to determine the average cost to produce a pound of coffee in each country. We then add a minimum of 20% to this average cost to produce the minimum price we will ever pay the farmer for a pound of coffee.
This 20% gross profit margin provides the farmer a life filled with hope and the dignity that everyone deserves. Beyond this 20% base price, we often pay much more for truly outstanding coffees. “Socially Sustainable” coffee recognizes and prioritizes the FARMER’s sustainability over anything else in the value chain.
Integrating the concept of social sustainability in ALL of our agricultural transactions is the future of responsible consumerism. Various international “fair trade” certification programs are well-intended, but not really effective in realizing the vision of “fair trade” as a philosophy of empowering the farmer. “’Fair Trade’ simply ain’t that fair.” As Daniel Jaffee writes in his excellent book “Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival,” the key is:
Building a trading system that is genuinely alternative, inclusive, and just—this is the path that holds the greatest promise for fulfilling the promise of fair trade.
Virtual DirecTrade and our integrated value-chain of coffee companies and empowering technologies for the farmer are on this path.
Guest post from Nick Chang of RipeBrand.
She glanced my way as I entered the Chinatown Community Development Center and I gave her a smile over my shoulder as something in her eyes cast a feeling of warmth around me. It was such a nice and sunny San Francisco day and I was eager to formally check-in and start my volunteer work, but then was interrupted by someone tapping me on the shoulder.
I turned around to see the same woman – a small elderly Chinese woman with a wrinkled face and twinkling eyes – standing there holding her worldly possessions in a small pink plastic bag. Her hands were outstretched with an offering of orange to me. I took her weathered hands in mine and tried to refuse, as I knew this was her only treat after a long and hard day of work. But, in traditional Chinese culture, it would’ve been even more insulting to refuse her simple yet kind offer Humbly, I thanked her for this gracious gift as I bowed my head out of respect for her. Little did I know, how much I had gained before volunteer work even “officially” began.
I left that day indebted to this women for teaching me a life lesson that simple efforts can make a difference in the community and people they serve. Fast forward to today – and my passion – RipeBrand. What if a piece of fruit could be the seed to inspire us to fulfill the fundamental values of the word “community”?
Inspired by this orange, I wanted to build a brand that would challenge all of us to get involved in the community we live in. My idea ripened and grew into RipeBrand, a clothing company whose sole mission is to encourage people from all walks of life to “get involved” in their local communities. Our strategy is to combine technology with fashion. By doing this, we are connecting real life problems with real people. The RipeBrand shirt is locally made, locally grown cotton and is wearable fashion statement for our generation to demonstrate their willingness to support the community we live in.
With more than 2.3 million young adults living in the L.A. area, I want to use RipeBrand as a catalyst to create a social revolution that rallies us together to generate awareness and get involved in our community. Our core mission is to donate 50 percent of our profits directly to sustainable local non-profits that have been vetted by RIPEBRAND. The other 50 percent is directly reinvested into our technology geared towards enabling easier ways for young adults to connect and find ways to get involved with causes they are passionate it about. Giving back your time and energy to people that surround you is a priceless measure of doing good and inspires growth where it may have been lost.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” –Laozi
There are three easy steps to getting started:
1. Take one afternoon and identify one cause you feel really passionate about. It could be a cause, a community issue – poverty – or helping at-risk youth. It just has to be authentic to you and uniquely connects you to your city and community
a. Here’s a simple example for me, with my mom approaching her two-year anniversary of winning her fight against breast cancer. I know anything that I can do to help other women that are currently going through this tough time is where I want to spend my time.
b. It’s important to be authentic – the deeper the connection, the more passionate you’ll be about getting involved.
2. Do research on the internet by using a site like RipeBrand.org to learn about local non profits in your city that match your passion. Learn more information about how to get involved and if you’d like to spread the word, be an ambassador for RIPEBRAND by wearing one of our tee shirts and talk to people about your cause!
3. Sign up. Make a commitment and work with our partner organizations and community programs to put your passion into action
LA is the first seed that we hope sparks a nationwide movement, so watch out for a RIPEBRAND movement coming to city near you as we continue to grow with the next generation of socially aware non-profit surrounding us. One city at a time, we will ripen the energies of those looking to give something back to community spirit. Then and only then will I start to begin to repay my debt to this woman for her kindness.
Do Good, Feel Good, Look Good.