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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Nonprofits

This category includes articles that apply to social good in general and may include policy, practice and other stories relevant to everyone.

The Power and Illusion of Self Reliance

There is real power that comes from doing something yourself. Think of those moments when you graduated from college, finished a 10k race setting a personal record, or completed a home improvement project successfully. You probably felt like Rocky Balboa sprinting to the top of the steps.

rocky

Liberals are often criticized by their conservative counterparts for supporting government programs that create dependence among the people they serve. Those same conservatives, however, are often guilty of supporting nonprofit organizations that do the same thing. At the same time, an increasing number of people from across the political spectrum see the importance of helping people develop self-reliance.

That self-reliance, however, is often an illusion.

No one is perfectly self-reliant. Most of us—when we’re honest—can barely make the case for it because we’ve had so much help from parents, friends, teachers, colleagues, employers, investors, fans, followers and, yes, government. As the Reverend Peter Raible penned, “We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.”

Could George W. Bush ever have become President if his father hadn’t? Could Mark Zuckerberg have grown Facebook without investors willing to fund operating deficits for years before the first dollar of advertising revenue? Could Warren Buffet have become so wealthy without the existence of well-regulated and reasonably transparent financial markets, allowing him both to earn returns on and provide access to capital? It seems that even the most revered among us is, at least in part, dependent on others.

Sam and Diane, not their real names, are my neighbors and dear friends. Both have intellectual deficits, Sam from birth and Diane as a result of a brain injury early in life. They live together in a condo in the same building where I live. Sam works two part-time jobs and serves regularly as a community volunteer. They act and feel genuinely self-reliant in the same sense that most all of us do. Their earned income, however, doesn’t come close to covering their living expenses. They are heavily subsidized by their parents. When they reached their mid-thirties and started to thicken around the middle, their parents provided a personal trainer. With his help, they hit the gym for an hour every day and are quite healthy. They have to do the exercise to get the benefit, but their parents saw the wisdom of providing a coach to hold them accountable.

Katelyn Dalton, courtesy of Teen Force

Katelyn Dalton, courtesy of Teen Force

Recently, I visited with Katelyn Dalton, a STEM staffing specialist for Teen Force, a San Jose, Calif., nonprofit that helps at-risk youth finish high school and get into college. Katelyn is a recovering addict who was homeless for two years. During much of that time she lived in a scavenged tent and had no reliable source of food or income. For her, the breakthrough was getting a job. Having a job gave her back a self-image that allowed her to think she was worthy of living, that she could overcome her addiction and become a productive part of society. She was hired by a social enterprise that employs the unemployable and provides training. It started by helping her learn the basics of employment, like how to show up to work every day and take responsibility for foreseeable transit problems. Today, she is a productive member of society who feels fully self-reliant. She is as independent today as anyone.

Jeffrey Sachs, the famed professor who advises developing countries and works to eradicate extreme poverty, has been a champion of and a lightning rod for the idea that poor countries and individuals simply need a leg up to the first rung of an economic ladder that leads to prosperity. There can be little doubt that a person, community or country comprised of people that lack food, water and shelter needs a leg up. What Sachs seems to be missing is that they also need the sense of self-reliance as much as they need help with food, water and shelter. Pulitzer-prize winning author and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has observed that the best form of aid is a j-o-b. That fact, however, ignores the problem that folks like Katelyn may not be employable in their present situation.

Much of our development and aid discussion both at the international and community level today revolves around the premise that self-reliance is a factual condition. In fact, it is an illusion that gives us all self-confidence and the courage to get up each day to fight our battles to the best of our ability. Virtually everyone has or will face challenges to which we simply were or are not equal. Someone has or will step in to help us over such obstacles.

One key to establishing the critical illusion is to give aid that builds dignity. There are times when aid, conditioned on work or participation in a drug treatment program or staying in school, can enhance self-respect. On the other hand, if too much work is required for too little aid, the result can be dehumanizing and tantamount to a form of slave labor.

For instance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints routinely provides food and other support to people in need, often explicitly in exchange for “volunteering.” When the expected number of volunteer hours matches up well with the value of the goods and the talents of the recipient, the program works to preserve self-respect. When, however, the volunteer hours required for help exceed its perceived value, the exchange robs participants of their dignity. This is complicated by the fact that two similarly situated participants may react differently to the same program, one feeling indignant while the other feels dignified. To be effective, a program must be flexible enough to build self-worth in the participants. If the program doesn’t build confidence, it isn’t working.

Whether we are talking about helping individuals, families, communities or countries, building a sense of self-reliance is more important than their actually becoming so. We need to stop thinking of our aid in terms of whether it actually fosters independence or dependence and focus on whether it creates the sense of capability. The power of people to rise above their challenging circumstances is more closely tied to their feeling self-reliant than it is to actually being self-reliant. Everyone needs to feel like Rocky once in a while.

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

The Christensen Fund Finds Grants Management Software To Grow As The Funder Grows

This is a guest post from Aaron Lester, Demand Generation Manager at Fluxx

The Christensen Fund was started in 2004 to help promote biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. Through place-based work, impact investing and funding, the Christensen Fund supports international efforts to recover global diversity and locally-recognized community custodians of heritage.

The Fund works primarily through grantmaking by awarding $15 million a year to people and institutions who believe in a biodiverse world. By early 2013, the Christensen Fund realized it needed a more flexible and forward thinking grants management solution for their large grant program. The foundation knew there was a smarter, more efficient way to award its grants. It was time for a change.

“A lot of the products we were looking at, including Cyber Grants, felt old and rigid. They seemed to be trying to shoehorn new technology into an old outdated structure,” says Brian Burgin, a grants manager at the Fund who specializes in processes and systems at the foundation. Christiansen was searching for a “more dynamic” grants management software solution.

BY GRANTMAKERS FOR GRANTMAKERS

The San Francisco-based foundation focused its efforts in regions chosen for their potential to withstand and recover from the global erosion of diversity. Most of the foundation’s program officers are located in these regions, including the African Rift Valley, Northwestern Mexico, Melanesia, and Central Asia. These far-flung grantmakers needed a system that understood grantmaking from the ground up. Burgin discovered Fluxx, and was attracted to the platform because it “was designed by grantmakers for grantmakers.”

BETTER VISIBILITY, MORE STREAMLINED PROCESSES

The Christensen Fund went live with Fluxx in August 2014. Since then, Fluxx’s configurable dashboards and intuitive interface has allowed the foundation to cut down on extraneous ­– and, at times, cumbersome – processes to streamline their workflows. “Communications with grantees prior to Fluxx was done largely through email,” Burgin says. “Proposals, reports, and the like would come in and have to be manually added to the record.”

Christensen also realized new visibility into their work. “Fluxx makes it far easier for our staff to track where records are in any given process and to readily see which records are ready for their action without extraneous communication.” Previously, its staff needed to email back and forth about the status of a request, grant, or report.

“Now we can see what’s on our plate at any given time,” Burgin says. “Our processes can become complex. The intuitive dashboards are extremely helpful in helping us see where we are in the grants process at all times.”

A PLATFORM TO GROW WITH US

A year after implementation, Christensen is still finding great way that Fluxx’s full suite of features benefit the Fund. The software has the ability to grow with the foundation as its processes evolve. “It’s going to be the driver of helping us do things a lot more efficiently in the future,” Burgin says. For example, Bugin is particularly interested in exploring more reporting capabilities. “The way we are preparing reports for the IRS and for our Board right now is quite tedious. Specifically, I want to create something that creates exactly what we need for 990 IRS reports.”

Burgin continues: “Our Directors are also keen on being able to view at a glance the status of where we are in grantmaking at any point in the year to ensure that we are on track to meet our goals. December was really hectic because we had to push a lot out before the end of the year, and they want to be able to see that coming and try to prevent it.” Additionally Burgin looking forward to using Fluxx’s new Microsoft Word Plug-in and the DocuSign integration. The foundation also wants to set up a process and workflow to handle grant amendments, which now causes undue amounts of manual work for Christensen.

With ambitious goals for the future, Christensen is secure in the knowledge that they have the tools in place to go where they want to go. It’s great peace of mind for any grantmaker who does not relish the chance to live through multiple technology implementations as a matter of course.

Aaron Lester

Aaron Lester

About Aaron Lester:

Aaron is the writer and demand generation manager at Fluxx.

Matt Damon Jokes About ‘Toilet Strike,’ Then Things Get Real With The Water.org Co-Founder

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Three years ago, using a fake press conference posted on YouTube, in a humorous effort to raise money and attention for clean water and sanitation, Matt Damon launched a “toilet strike,” promising not to go to the bathroom “until everyone has access to clean water and sanitation.”

As part of the Sundance Film Festival, Water.org cofounders Matt Damon and Gary White held a real press conference with Stella Artois executive Todd Allen. This gave me an opportunity to ask Damon why he is so passionate about water issues.

Damon responded, “ I have four daughters. It comes at me emotionally from a lot of different angles. I think when you start having kids it is hard not to see other children as your own. ”

He went on to explain that Bono initially got him interested about ten years ago in by taking him a trip ago to help him with his work, believing that if he simply showed Damon what extreme poverty looks like, Damon would have no choice but to engage. “He rightly assumed that if he stuck me in extreme situations with extreme poverty my life would change and that is exactly what happened,” he says.

“ I saw that I could have an impact. ”

He related the story of a teenage girl in rural Zambia with whom he walked for a mile to the nearest source of water. As he visited with her, he asked about her plans for the future. She said she wanted to leave her village to become a nurse. “I realized it was like when Ben Affleck and I were in high school and we said, ‘We’re going to New York to become actors.’” He began to appreciate that people without access to clean water and sanitation were really living a “less than human existence.”

Finally, he explained, that it comes down to the question of a legacy, “It has always felt like I should always do what I can within my own sphere of influence to effect positive change for people. I’m looking at all these issues and this one is so massive it felt like there is so little awareness about it, it felt like the best place to put my time and energy.”

Damon cofounded Water.org with Gary White in 2009. The organization really resulted from the merger of nonprofits that each had created previously. Damon joked that at the time, he went looking for the world’s greatest expert on water and “when that guy wouldn’t take my call, I called Gary.” He went on to say that in fact, White is the world’s leading expert on water issues. White later returned the compliment, first suggesting that he should have called Ben Affleck, but later explaining that Damon has truly become an expert on water as well.

160123-matt_damon-1200x832

Damon sees access to clean water as a part of what he said that Bono calls “stupid poverty,” referring to the causes and contributors to poverty that we know how to fix, like how to deliver clean water.

At the press conference, Damon plugged the Stella Artois “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign that suggests people buy a chalice from the brewer with proceeds supporting Water.org. One chalice purchase, Damon noted, will provide five years of clean drinking water for a woman who lacks access to clean water.

Damon explained how access to clean water is a gender issue, noting that the vast majority of the time required to collect water, which totals hundreds of millions of hours every day, is spent by women and girls. As a result, women are kept from more productive tasks and girls are frequently prevented from attending school simply to make time for collecting water.

Damon’s passion for this effort came through as he explained that “We can be the generation to do this,” referring to providing clean water and sanitation to everyone on the planet. He noted that we know there are solutions and “ Americans, regardless of their politics, want to do what works. ”

One of the solutions Damon highlighted is “water credit,” the innovation developed by White to use microfinance to support people living in poor urban areas who often live atop a functioning clean water supply without access to it. By lending them the money to put taps in their homes, their time is freed to do more productive things than collect water, making it easy for them to repay the loans. Damon notes that 94 percent of the loans are to women and that more than 99 percent of the loans are repaid. I’ve previously visited with White about water credit here and here.

Matt challenged the world to help solve this issue, “What is our mark going to be? What are we here for? What are we going to do with our chance?”

CSR, Say Cheese!

Here’s how your Funds could create nutritious Cheese, help Autistic children, save the livestock people of Rajasthan (India) and their Camels.

PROJECT BY: Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan & Camel Charisma

ABOUT: LPPS is an NGO that supports traditional livestock keepers in Rajasthan, and indirectly all over India.

WORKING SINCE: 1996

THE CONCEPT IN A NUTSHELL: Introducing Camel Cheese to India – this Project aims to develop Camel Cheese into a value added product that creates income for Camel breeders, provides economic incentives for conserving the Camel, and provides therapeutic support to autistic children. Some studies have proved that camel milk is a health tonic, especially useful for Diabetes patients and autistic children.

WHY THIS PROJECT IS GOOD FOR THE WORLD: The benefits of this project relate to camel breeders in Rajasthan (who currently have no income from their camels) and to consumers who get access to a healthy product that provides the nutritional and health benefits of camel milk in a less perishable form.

FUNDS REQUIRED: $80,000/INR 50 Lakh, for three years

WATCH HOW CAMELS BRING HOPE TO THE PEOPLE OF RAJASTHAN:

A QUICK OVERVIEW OF THE OPERATIONAL STRATEGY: The project will encompass the following steps:

  1. Development of a premium Camel Cheese product that suits the Indian palate
  2. Training of members of Camel breeding families in Cheese production
  3. Development of a Marketing Strategy
  4. Promotion of the product, through linkages with Hotels, Chefs and Specialty Shops in the Metros

SOME FACTS AND FIGURES

Duration of Project with Proposed Funding requirement: 3 years

Number of people who will benefit from the Project: 500 Camel breeding families and potentially thousands of autistic children

Area of operation and direct impact: All of Rajasthan

LEARN MORE ABOUT WHY THE LIVESTOCK PEOPLE NEED YOU:

Want to Fund this Project?

Write to us at editor@csrlive.in and we will assist you with the process. 

 

Three Surprising Legal Tips for Nonprofits

Ask anyone in the nonprofit world and you’ll hear that budgets are constrained. Running a nonprofit, however, is not easy. Brent Andrewson, an attorney at our sponsor Kirton McConkie, offers these three surprising legal tips to help.

  1. Be mindful of conflicts of interest. If you have a great board of directors, officers and employees it is likely you’ll find your organization navigating conflicts of interest from time to time. The existence of a conflict does not mean that you cannot proceed with a proposed project or transactin, but it does mean that you need to proceed carefully in this nuanced arena.
  2. Be sure to know when you need to register with a state for fundraising there. Forty states require nonprofits to register. Just having a website doesn’t trigger registration requirements, but other normal solicitation activities, including crowdfunding may.
  3. Being a nonprofit triggers regulation; it doesn’t exempt you from it.The tax, fundraising and other implications of nonprofits subject organizations to increased–not reduced–scrutiny from regulators.

On Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 1:00 Eastern to talk about these three tips. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

More about Kirton McConkie:

Kirton McConkie is Utah’s largest law firm. It provides excellent service in helping clients solve problems, achieve results and realize opportunities. We serve individuals and businesses, from large multinational organizations to small start ups. As the largest law firm in Utah, we represent a depth of collective knowledge and skills, clients desire. We also know, for the most part, clients tend to hire individual lawyers they have heard about, who have been referred to them or who they already know. We know it is true because it happens for us all the time. Many of our new clients come from referrals. To us, this is the highest form of recognition for the work and service we provide as lawyers and as a law firm.

Brent Andrewsen, Kirton McConkie

Brent Andrewsen, Kirton McConkie

Brent’s bio:

Mr. Andrewsen is a member of Kirton McConkie’s Corporate, and Tax and Estate Planning sections. His practice includes estate planning, probate and trust administration, gift taxation, tax-exempt organizations, charitable trusts and planned giving. Mr. Andrewsen also has advised clients with respect to business matters and has assisted in forming various business entities and transactions. He is a frequent speaker on issues regarding tax-exempt organizations, planned giving, estate planning, and related topics. In addition to his professional work, he has sat on the boards of various charitable organizations over the years. Mr. Andrewsen has an AV PreeminentTM peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is recognized as one of Utah’s Legal Elite for estate planning, a Mountain States Super Lawyer for estate planning and non-profits and a Best Lawyer for trusts/estates and nonprofit/charities. He was also honored by Utah Business magazine as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star.

Remember to “join the cavalry” by subscribing to our content here.

Devin D. Thorpe

Improving Your Nonprofit Through Skills-Based Volunteers

This is a guest post from Marjorie Ringrose, Director of Social Impact at Social Venture Partners Boston.

While it uncomfortably discounts the tremendous joy and value that comes with volunteering, there’s a volunteer-to-fundraising calculus that nonprofit and philanthropic leaders intuitively understand. People who volunteer for an organization are more likely to donate to it. They give larger contributions and donate more often and for longer periods of time than those who don’t volunteer.

One-in-four American adults volunteer with nonprofits, but few nonprofits use skilled volunteers as well as they could. Only 15% report volunteering their professional and management expertise. Most serve food, tutor children and provide transportation. These are certainly vitally important, but there is clearly more room for skilled volunteering. Why isn’t there more?

Is it because volunteers don’t want to offer their professional skills? No. The longevity of engaged philanthropy, the growth of corporate voluntarism, and LinkedIn’s more than four million members wanting do skills-based volunteering and/or join a board demonstrate professionals’ desire to volunteer their skills.

Marjorie Ringrose

Marjorie Ringrose

Is it because nonprofits don’t need people to volunteer their professional skills? Not generally. According to Taproot, two-thirds of nonprofits say they need pro bono help in areas requiring skill, such as marketing, human resources, and information technology.

Rather, it’s because many nonprofits don’t use their skills-based volunteers efficiently or effectively.

What a lost opportunity. Nonprofits miss out on valuable skills that could help strengthen and grow their organizations. And they miss out on engaging a population of volunteers that is not only sizable, but can also be significant and lasting donors.

Yes, identifying and engaging skills-based volunteers with the right professional experience and personality is hard. Finding and managing complex, lengthy skills-based projects is time consuming.

Organizations operating with an engaged (or venture) philanthropy model, which focus on donations of time as well as money, have practices in place to address this. Groups such as Social Venture Partners, New Profit Inc., Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, among others, have mobilized countless hours of skills-based volunteering for their beneficiaries and have, in many cases, secured those very volunteers as their own reliable donor base.

How do these organizations do it? They bring carefully vetted skilled volunteers to a small number of carefully selected nonprofits. They put the volunteers to work in carefully designed and managed projects that often get at the nonprofits’ most critical business challenges. They seek nonprofits who devote resources to stewarding these volunteers and with leaders who bravely expose their stress points and welcome volunteer involvement.

Effective use of skilled volunteers creates a virtuous cycle. Nonprofits get precious resources focused on their most pressing needs, volunteers feel like they are making a meaningful difference because they are being asked to do important work, in turn creating the deep commitment that can lead to even more (and more effective) volunteering and to significant, lasting contributions. Ultimately, it’s an authentic partnership that creates great value for everyone.

Marjorie Ringrose, Director of Social Impact at Social Venture Partners Boston, brings nearly 100 skilled volunteers and 3,500 hours of pro bono counsel annually to some of Boston’s best nonprofits @SVPBoston

Wealthy Utah Businessman Hires Ex-Convicts To Lead Nonprofit; It’s Not What You Think!

In the heart of one of the country’s most conservative small towns, just a few miles from the notoriously dry Brigham Young University, ensconced in the safety of a gated community, our host for the evening introduced us to the four felons he’d chosen to run his new nonprofit, The Other Side Academy.

Sitting in the living room of Joseph Grenny’s 10,000 square-foot home with fifty other guests, I struggled to grasp the full message I was being presented. I kept tripping over the irony of the wealthy benefactor who had so successfully protected himself from ever having to think about—let alone fear—a criminal choosing to enter their world in hopes of redeeming them.

Having learned of Mimi Silbert’s Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, Grenny, the bestselling author, who has studied and written about influencers like Silbert, decided Utah needed something like Delancey Street.

The managing director of The Other Side Academy, which will be closely modeled on Delancey Street’s proven approach, is being built with an overarching goal: scale. Grenny, and his partner, Tim Stay, not only hope to create a successful program in Utah, but to roll it out nationwide—and then internationally.

The Other Side Academy Team: Dave Durocher,  Alan Fahringer, Lola Zagey and Martin Anderson.

The Other Side Academy Team: Dave Durocher, Alan Fahringer, Lola Zagey and Martin Anderson.

The pair have chosen David Durocher to serve as the managing director for the Utah Center. He’s the perfect choice. Before spending eight years at Delancey Street in Los Angeles, he spent 15 years in prison over four stays with very brief stints on the outside, once lasting only 59 days. His first arrest came at age 13. His last five years at Delancey Street he served as the managing director for a facility with 250 people.

The Delancey Street model has been proven successful over thirty-plus years. The system requires that those who choose to come and stay work hard, typically at low-skilled jobs that teach them how to become constructive members of society. Most participants never have been before. Delancey Street operates several small businesses run by rehabilitated ex-convicts, addicts and others who’ve hit bottom and are willing to do the hard work required to prepare themselves to lead productive lives.

Durocher will be joined by Alan Fahringer, Lola Zagey and Martin Anderson, also alumni of the Delancey Street program.

The Delancey Street program is described on the website as follows:

There is no official staff at Delancey Street. Everyone who comes in works his or her way up into some sort of position in which he/she is learning a new job from the person over them who has held that job before, and teaching the job he/she has now to the newer resident. In this way, everyone at Delancey Street is pulling together toward the same goals. No one is simply a receiver; everyone is a giver as well.

The potential harmony of the Utah Mormon leaders, Grenny and Stay, playing with the ex-cons from Southern California rings with potential. The proven business acumen combined with the necessary track record of the operational directors leads one to conclude that it is possible to relatively quickly scale up a facility in Utah and then grow the model nationally.

Microsoft Welcomes Windows 10 With $10 Million Gift To Charity

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

[Note: I own an embarrassingly small number of Microsoft shares.]

Today, Microsoft is kicking off its launch of Windows 10 with a $10 million give-back campaign. Nine nonprofits have already been chosen to receive a portion of the $10 million and a tenth will be chosen by people using the hashtag #UpgradeYourWorld on social media.

“Giving back and supporting non-profits is a cornerstone of our company culture. Microsoft and its employees collectively give thousands of hours, and donate more than $1 billion each year to nonprofit organizations around the world,” Elisa Willman, Senior Manager Marketing Communications, Corporate Citizenship & Public Affairs for Microsoft, said.

“Microsoft is proud to work with more than 86,000 nonprofits around the world every year to provide them with affordable access to the technology they need to support their work in local communities, and to leverage technology to help them be more efficient, effective and innovative in doing their important work. Whether it is through our software donations, technology solutions for nonprofit problems, or Office 365 Nonprofit, we strive to help nonprofits do more good,” she added.

Dave Forstrom, Director of Communications, Windows, said, “Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

On Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Willman and Forstrom will join me for a live discussion about the $10 million #UpgradeYourWorld give back program. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Microsoft:

Twitter: @Microsoft, @Windows, @msftcitizenship

Microsoft is a services and devices company with the goal to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We build best-in-class platforms and productivity services for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We aim to reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform and create more personal computing.

elisa-willman

Elisa Willman

Willman’s bio:

Twitter: @ElisaMWill

Elisa Willman has spent her career at the intersection of philanthropy, marketing and business. Currently Senior Marketing Communications Manager for Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship & Public Affairs team, she leads global campaigns for the company. Prior to Microsoft, Elisa worked as Executive Director of a high profile children’s charity in New Zealand and as a cause marketing consultant. She has extensive experience in sponsorship and partnerships and enjoys applying her background to cause strategy at Microsoft. When not at work, Elisa is passionate about travel, family adventures and her role as a mentor through the Global Give Back Circle.

Forstrom’s bio:

Dave currently holds the position, Director, Windows and has been with Microsoft for more than seven years where he focuses on “reimagining Windows” in our constantly changing technological world.

 

LGBTQ Clothing That Looks & Does Good

This is a guest post from Jillian Brooks who is a copywriter, comedian, and social entrepreneur.

It’s not every day you have the opportunity to impact the same community, in vastly different ways – simultaneously. However, Project Comfort aims to do just that, creating a business model based around community empowerment.

Pushing passed the Masculine-Male & Feminine-Female conventions of modern day clothing providers; Project Comfort offers apparel for a more diverse set of body types, individuals, and identities. That means that sizing is more standard, and styles androgynous. But the really cool part of the organization is that $10 from every item sold goes back to an established LGBTQ nonprofit, and the customer picks what goes where.

Jillian Brooks

Jillian Brooks

Project Comfort works directly with nonprofits operating in the LGBTQ community to provide regular micro financing and donation income. When an item is added to a customer’s cart, they are prompted to select a nonprofit from a provided list.

From there, selections are tallied and donations are made to the nonprofits at the end of each quarter. On June 30th, 2015, nearly $2,000 was donated to 5 different LGBTQ nonprofits as a result of Project Comfort customers.

Project Comfort operates using the model of a breakeven-business, meaning that the majority of revenue generated from sales goes directly toward the nonprofits selected by customers. With less than 1% profit netting back to Project Comfort for company development, the organization operates solely to make a difference.

As a woman-owned social enterprise, that is a sustainably operated organization, with the majority of our items made in the USA, Project Comfort is conscious about the community at large.

Connect:

www.ProjectComfortUSA.com
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook
#EqualPeriod #ClothingForEquality

Bio:

Jillian Brooks is a copywriter, comedian, and social entrepreneur living in New York City.

Lululemon CEO Helps Nonprofit Give Gladys In Nicaragua New Home

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Lululemon (Nasdaq: LULU) CEO Laurent Potdevin recently joined with other employees of the apparel firm to build something completely different: a house.

Working with the nonprofit organization Giveback Homes, Potdevin helped fund the construction a home for a needy family in Nicaragua.

He shared his experience with me:

In the process of selling my home in Manhattan Beach, I was introduced to Giveback Homes through my real estate agents, Brigitte Pratt and Colleen Cole. They are both Giveback Homes Realtors and informed me that they would be donating from the transaction of selling my home to build a home for a family in Nicaragua.

I asked how much they were planning on donating and matched their donation. Between both of our donations we were able to build an entire home for a deserving family in Central America.

One of my favorite things about Giveback Homes is that they work to make sure their Realtors and clients feel a connection with the people they are helping. With every home built, the Realtors who donated to make that home possible receive a summary and photos of the family they helped and in some cases, the Realtors will join Giveback Homes team members to physically build the home.

The home we built was for Gladys and her family. Gladys was abandoned as a child. She’s now married with two children and works as a tortilla maker, her husband sells bread on the street and their combined monthly income is $200.

Before we built Gladys’ first home, she was living in a makeshift shack with dirt floors and walls made of wood scraps. When it rained, the floors in the house would turn to mud. It was my honor to help build her dream home; her first real home. Gladys is a hard worker, self-taught entrepreneur and a fighter. She fights every single day to give her children the life she wished she had, the life all children deserve; a safe place to call home and parents that love them.

I’m so thankful to my philanthropic real estate agents for introducing me to this wonderful organization. Buying and selling homes through these philanthropic agents is an easy sell in my opinion.

On Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 3:00 PM Eastern, Potdevin will join me for a live discussion of about his experiences helping to build this home. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Lululemon:

Twitter: @lululemon

lululemon athletica inc (NASDAQ: LULU) is a yoga-inspired athletic apparel com pay with products that create transformational experiences for people to live happy, healthy, fun lives. Setting the bar in technical fabrics and functional designs, lululemon works with yogis and athletes in local communities for continuous research and product feedback.

What We Do: Elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness. Our purpose gets us out of bed in the morning. Elevating the world from mediocrity to greatness is about holding ourselves and others to our highest possibility. This is our promise to the world.
How We Do It: Our products create transformational experiences for people to live happy, healthy, fun lives.
Our mission os how we live into our purpose. The products and transformational experiences we create aren’t limited to Luon–we design technical gear, throw kick-ass events and support our people with the intention of brining happiness, health and fun to our communities.

Lululemon on Youtube.

laurent_potdevin

Laurent Potdevin, CEO, Lululemon

Potdevin’s bio:

@laurentp1

Laurent Potdevin, CEO, brings more than 25 years in the retail industry to this role and a deep understanding of premium brands, athletic apparel, technical products, innovation and best-in-class customer experience.

Laurent previously served as President of TOMS Shoes, where he built a world-class management team, led global expansion, and broadened the company’s strong cultural identity. Prior to TOMS, Laurent spent five years as President and CEO, at Burton Snowboards where the business grew significantly under his leadership, expanding across product categories and creating international scale by always focusing on providing the best consumer experience.

Laurent first gained experience in premium, luxury brands through his tenure at LVMH where he identified the potential of the Berlutti footwear brand early on and then became Director of North American Operations for the company’s premier Louis Vuitton brand where he was integral in optimizing the brand’s North American supply chain.

As an avid snowboarder, you can find Mr. Potdevin carving it up on the mountain during the winter and on catching waves on his surfboard in the summer.

More about Giveback Homes:

Giveback Homes is a trusted network of real estate professionals dedicated to creating social change through the act of buying or selling a home. By simply choosing to work with a Giveback Homes real estate agent, mortgage broker, home builder or interior designer, you will help build a home for a family in need. People want to work with people who are doing good, and we are making it easy to find them.

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