Corporate Social Responsibility Is More Than a Marketing Ploy

For-profit companies traditionally operated within a set of rules dictated by the government, such as collecting and paying taxes or meeting state and federal regulations. Everyone accepted profit maximization as the goal, and it didn’t really matter how companies managed to achieve that mission.

Today, many judge companies based on their broader impacts and whether they contribute to beneficial change. It’s definitely a positive shift, but new businesses must strike a delicate balance: Too much of a focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) for a new brand over the effectiveness of the product or service can actually damage brand appeal. Researchers at North Carolina State University found that consumers view new brands as less enticing when their key messages focus on CSR more than the benefits of their products, even if they donate money to good causes.

While consumers want to support brands that give back to the world, they are more concerned about the efficacy of new products. And who can blame them? Nobody wants to spend hard-earned money on a subpar product. When product quality is equal but one item comes from a company with a social mission, customers are more likely to choose the company with a focus on CSR, though.

Patagonia stands out as an excellent example of effective CSR. The company aggressively incorporates environmental causes into its corporate DNA — and its customer base is just as aggressively loyal. Volkswagen, on the other hand, went out of its way to greenwash its corporate image by promoting “clean diesel” while flagrantly violating federal emissions laws with nitrogen-oxide emissions (a smog-forming pollutant linked to lung cancer). The disparity between VW’s mission and its actions had steep consequences.

Finding the Right Fit

CSR should be authentic to the soul of an organization — it should not be an add-on or a marketing ploy. Before committing to CSR, brands need to survey potential customers and brand ambassadors to ensure they focus on the right initiative.

For smaller companies and startups, this could constitute a more informal process of casual interviews with a few dozen people coupled with the founders’ personal goals. Established companies will want to undergo more extensive research that includes surveys and in-depth focus groups with employees, customers, and potential customers. In both cases, companies must confirm that the CSR initiative resonates with potential customers while identifying any concerns that could alienate critical groups. Without genuine authenticity, it’s only a matter of time before an initiative fails — it’s imperative that the CSR mission resonates with the company, its staff, and its executives.

Patagonia earned plenty of attention in 2016 for donating 100 percent of its profits from Black Friday sales to environmental groups. By literally putting its money — more than $10 million, in fact — where its mouth is, Patagonia proved its dedication to protecting natural resources. Considering a large swath of Patagonia’s clientele is environmentally conscious, that single day of sales truly resonated with brand loyalists.

Once a company pinpoints the CSR initiative that meshes with its identity, its leaders must articulate the CSR mission internally and externally. That mission will likely evolve, but it should be authentic to ensure long-term success. A genuine effort at CSR initiatives can be a great way to motivate and empower employees.

Internal CSR messaging focuses on culture and creating a universal message across the company. Everyone should understand the overlap between the CSR initiative and the company’s mission, as well as how the initiative affects every employee’s role. Externally, brands must simplify this messaging into an easy-to-understand version for consumers.

I’ve had to tackle this challenge with my own company, 2920 Sleep. We have boiled down our CSR focus to three elements: a commitment to product quality, excellent customer service, and 1% for the Planet. We aspire to make high-quality, long-lasting products that will have a reduced environmental impact with lower return rates; take care of our customers with great service; and stay financially successful so we can channel one percent of our revenue to support organizations that protect the environment. Our commitment to product quality and customer service enables us to support our CSR initiative. This mission is driven by everyone at the company — from our leadership and marketing teams to our customer service department and our brand ambassadors.

More than anything else, brands should ensure the CSR narrative is a part of the corporate culture. Think again of the difference between Patagonia and VW. Patagonia’s founder, management team, and employees all actively support its mission. VW, meanwhile, has lost brand integrity and market share, and its executives face significant fines and possible jail time.

Consumers can spot the difference between pretenders and companies that are committed to a mission. CSR offers an opportunity to pivot a business from a purely financial operation to an organization that recognizes its ability to help a wider community in addition to meeting financial goals. With a balanced approach to CSR and business goals, companies can truly shine.

Your Group Wants to Become a Nonprofit — What Now?

It’s one thing to have hobbies and interests; parlaying them into a nonprofit organization is another leap entirely.

Expansion is an easy concept to imagine but a difficult one for most of us to execute.

In a hobby or interest group’s case, it’s tough to identify the right time to venture into nonprofit status. For molecular biologist Nina Dudnik, her epiphany started when she was studying rice in Ivory Coast. Conducting research in a developing country without enough equipment proved challenging, so after she began her Ph.D. program at Harvard University, she and a few fellow students collected extra supplies and equipment to send to labs in developing countries.

From that effort sprang a nonprofit venture that eventually became Seeding Labs, a firm that trains scientist and provides equipment to developing nations. Dudnik’s idea sprouted from a cause she had personal experience in, and she quickly found a way to translate it to a broader scale.

So how can an interest group widen its scope into a serious nonprofit? It starts with identifying the desired end goal and detailing the steps necessary to arrive there.

What Giving Gets You

When looking to invest more time and effort into a cause, going the nonprofit route makes sense. Nonprofits are highly credible entities that can exert social influences on broader audiences because a nonprofit donation elicits a stronger emotional response in the giver than spending money at a for-profit, even if the end result is the same.

Nonprofits are also eligible for certain federal tax exemptions. Provided they agree to be audited, corporate income tax is waived, and that money can be reinvested into the organization. Additionally, state and federal governing bodies and some private groups also offer nonprofit tax credits for nonprofits, so even if a nonprofit owes some taxes, these credits give organizations other options to stretch their operating budgets.

When homing in on a nonprofit cause, start with pinpointing a mission that’s the company’s sole focus. You’ll be fighting for a share of limited charitable giving, so don’t make your efforts more difficult by taking up a cause that another group has already embraced. Both the group and the cause itself would likely suffer.

Next, make sure interest is sufficient and funding is locked in. Ensure that the resources and support for your initiative are in place and that your plan of action is clearly outlined. This will help convince potential donors you’re a good candidate for their contributions, which most people don’t give out easily. In the long term, nonprofits need business plans that minimize operating costs to ensure sustainable organizations. Getting your group to that next step isn’t easy, but the benefits are tangible.

Make a Nonprofit Pivot

If transitioning your group to a nonprofit seems like a good fit, these to-do items will help make the process as smooth as possible.

1. Network as much as you can. Your nonprofit’s effect is only as strong as the people advocating for it. Make sure as many influential people know about it and talk it up as possible.

Take an active approach to networking. If you attend an event such as an NGO conference, think of questions ahead of time and share your plans with your organization. Whenever possible, get feedback from people who are already well-established in your group’s field of interest to figure out the best course of action.

2. Research regulations. Regulatory requirements may sound like a chore, but you’ll need to know how they work to understand the legal side of the transition to a nonprofit. Regulations are not only complex and different from state to state, but they’re also constantly changing.

Even though you’re passionate about your group’s subject matter, consider taking a class at a local college to get the most up-to-date guidance on your specific situation and how to get any compliance issues squared away. Setting up your nonprofit only to find it doesn’t comply with certain legalities isn’t the best way to get it off the ground.

3. Work with an accountant. Embrace the first lesson of nonprofits, and get ready to get lean. Utilize an accountant or financial advisor, and make sure that person has experience working with nonprofits.

These professionals identify specific steps a nonprofit will need to take in order to best protect itself financially. For instance, not-for-profits should create a statement of financial position instead of a traditional balance statement, or a statement of activities detailing revenue and expenses instead of an income statement.

Fundamentally, nonprofits are created to meet specific societal needs. If your group has the drive and resources to merit pursuing the advantages afforded to a nonprofit, take these steps to heart and take your cause to the next level.

Social Good Doesn’t Require a Non-Profit

You want your business to be a force for social good. Most importantly, you want to meet the needs of some target population with the warmth and care reminiscent of the most nurturing presence as opposed to a cold, heartless corporation. You believe your only option to be registration of your business as a non-profit. Chrystalyn Reid of non-profit Queen Esther Ministry states that she didn’t consider anything other than a non-profit, “Because I wanted to help people without worrying about a profit-making business.”

Social Good Dreams

Other options exist, but I want to first challenge your start-up launch with several organizing questions:

Are you under the impression that non-profits always have low budgets and low pay for employees? The average non-profit CEO makes between $97,000 and $123,462. Seventy-six of 4,587 charities pay their CEOs more than $500,000 per year in compensation. Seventy of those have an annual budget above $13.5 million.

Have you created an Outcome Logic Model for your social good business identifying the revenue streams that are possible within the business operations? The typical non-profit today makes only 21% of its revenue from donations. Over 72% comes from program service revenues which include government contracts. Many of those contracts are open to non-profits and for-profits alike.

Have you considered how your board and funding structure will impact the mission of your social good business? You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep. You will want to ensure that your business bylaws are written to guard the mission.

Another Option: B Corp

A B Corp is an organization founded for social good. According to the B-Corp website, B Corps “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.” Over 2,221 B Corporations are now certified from over 50 countries and 130 industries.

The choice of a B Corp structure over a non-profit structure for many is a question of funding. They choose non-profit proposing to fund the business through grants. A non-profit is the choice for those who want to provide a tax write-off to their donors and want to be eligible for grants that specify that only 501c3 corporations may apply. Yet, that explanation is a premature determination about how your corporation can make money. More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off,

More specifically, if you conclude that your social good company can ONLY make money through donations from donors who require a tax write-off, non-profit is your only option. On the other hand, you can create value beyond the tax write-off. You may develop revenue streams other than grants. You could have a non-profit partner organization. In these cases, you may consider starting a for-profit with B Corp certification instead.

Mission Creep & Creepy Mission

Many launch non-profits because they believe that the money is not as important as the difference they can make. They focus on the people that they will help, the social good proposition, and the lives that will be changed rather than the bottom line. “My mission was never to make money. It was something that God called me to, to make a difference for women aging out of the foster care system,” Reid says about her non-profit.

This often means that these social entrepreneurs also neglect to focus on sustainability. Therefore, Marvin Olasky can tell the story in Renewing American Compassion of the multi-million-dollar social welfare building with few visitors. He compared this to a beloved, yet poorly funded child services non-profit. The non-profit operated with client numbers above its capacity.

Social workers and others working for social good are coming to grips with the fallacy of money as a dirty word (or after thought). They are also redefining their business models to avoid mission creep. They diversify offerings to access additional revenue streams without overextending the mission. The innovative method involves building programs for sustainability as well as mission achievement. They couple a profit mechanism within the service provision mix as the social good business model. The result are programs that support themselves.

Mental health agencies have been doing a version of this at the insistence of managed care organizations—billing for specific services. The difference in more recent innovations is to go beyond the billable scope of practice. Include a more holistic service cadre for clients. Those extended services, formerly out of scope, are funded through private donations, fundraisers, and now sales of manuals, merchandising, or sponsorship agreements.

The take away is that profits are not the enemy of social good. Failure to meet the mission is. As Reid of Queen Esther Ministry confirms, “As I’ve learned more about my business, I know the value of diversifying my revenue streams in addition to honoring my mission. I’m now exploring other revenue ventures through my business like holding a Summer camp.”

SKIP: A Holistic Approach to Promoting Education for Disadvantaged Children

Supporting Kids in Peru (SKIP) is a UK, US, and Peruvian NGO charity, working with impoverished families in El Porvenir and Alto Trujillo, in Peru. The primary aim is to enable children to utilise their right to an education, however by taking a holistic approach, SKIP works with the entire familial unit to do this. This means focusing on key aspects such as education, economic stability, emotional well-being, and healthy and safe living environments. SKIP promotes empowerment and believes that by working in partnership within communities, people can be empowered to make change.

SKIP is comprised of volunteers from these communities as well as volunteers from overseas. When SKIP formed in 2003, local professionals were motivated by the need for education support and joined in on the mission. Many children had never studied and were too old to attend primary school, however, with the help of volunteers 85 children who had been selected were able to commence school after passing placement exams.

The need for a holistic approach soon followed and as the project grew training was provided to parents so that they could create their own businesses and obtain an income to prevent their children from having to work. It wasn’t until 2012 that SKIP gained registration as an international NGO which meant that volunteering visas could be granted to long term volunteers the following year.

SKIP has a variety of programmes available for the communities they serve. The primary education system in Peru is disadvantaged and involves little emphasis on understanding, analytical skills, or problem solving. When SKIP first tested the student’s academic performance, most of the students were performing years below their grade level.

Therefore, SKIP aims to fully finance education, and support the development of emotional intelligence alongside therapeutic treatment for children by using individual therapy or group sessions.  In 2014, SKIP was able to improve Math scores by 29% with reading comprehension scores improving by nearly 50% showing the determination and motivation of the staff.

Additionally, SKIP also trains and supports parents and carers so that they are more aware of their child’s educational needs which maximises parental involvement and allow parents to acquire behaviour management techniques that will impact the family dynamics. Feedback found that the parents or carers felt valued and empowered with a commitment to continuous learning.

Also, SKIP promotes daily access to a library so that children can get help with their homework. This also encourages children to source information for themselves using the reading materials available. SKIP values the importance of this because some parents may not be literate, and so help may not be readily available at home. The library also provides a safe place where children can be intellectually challenged. Once homework is completed, there are educational games available for children to explore other interests.

Children are unlikely to have similar reading materials at home due to poverty and disadvantage which means they are not able to practice reading and so cannot develop skills. SKIP also offers a library that has at least two volunteer tutors to attend each three hour library session so that support can be offered.

There are also family support programmes available which include a dental campaign that not only checks children’s teeth and provides fillings when necessary. There is also preventative care and children are taught to properly brush their teeth. There are also sight tests in which glasses are provided to children if they are required.

The social work team focuses on empowering parents to expand their skills and abilities and can access advice daily with home visits being carried out twice a year at a minimum. By doing this, 14% of the people who were living in poverty in 2010, by 2014 had crossed the poverty line.

SKIP also have an economic development programme that stresses the importance of saving. There are also business workshops aimed at those who may want to develop a business, attendance in these workshops was over 85% with 36 women participating showing the emphasis on promoting equality.

Liz Wilson, the director of SKIP believes that by using a holistic and evidence-based approach, families are empowered and work can be done to help stabilise the entire unit. By working with families and witnessing their commitment and aspiring nature, it is hard to not find it motivating and inspiring. SKIP promote the availability of the services, but Liz Wilson believes it is the families that put the hard work into these interventions.

Whilst volunteering is extremely rewarding, it is not without its challenges. Liz Wilson stresses the importance of stepping back from fulfilling the volunteers’ own needs and looking at those of the project and how some tasks may be necessary and beneficial overall. Individually, we cannot change the world, but there is enormous value in shared contribution.

The Six Steps for Registering A Trademark

If you are in business, then you understand the need to have a brand identity. A unique identifying feature in your business name, the logo, or the service is essential to stand out in the market. To achieve this, you have to sell differentiated products and use a name that hasn’t been used by others or rather, a name that won’t bring confusion or ownership infringement feuds.

Though your business name is unique, a trademark to your products or services will ensure that your brand name is upheld. To register a trademark, follow the following steps:

1. Pre-registration

Here, you do not have to sign anything. Before making any important business step, you must ask if there is a critical need for the business trademark. Products and services, only, are eligible for trademarks. Inventions and literally arts cannot be trademarked.

You should also evaluate the need for the trademark. If the business name is enough to identify your company, the products and services you trade in, then you do not need to trademark them urgently.

2. Selection of the mark to trade in

This is among the toughest choices to make once you have ascertained the need for trademarking. The mark chosen should be unique and means to use in business. Descriptive, fancy, generic, and suggestive names will have to be deliberated.

When selecting the mark, you should also consider the graphical strength it possessed. As aforementioned, the trademark is your brand identity. To sell your brand, the format, availability, and the products to which the mark will be applied should be considered.

3. Name search

As you select the trademark, the ones chosen should be run through the US Patent and Trademark Offices database. A name search helps in preventing registration of an already registered trademark that can cost you more in revenue and legal fees later. This also helps to know if your name is desirable or not.

4. Application

After the selected mark is found to be available, you can fill in the application for trademark registration. The registration can be either on the ‘use in commerce’ or the ‘intent to use’ basis. This can be done online or on paper. You should note that there are various trademark attorneys in San Diego who will help in processing your trademark application. The best offer flat fees for registration and at reasonable values that will not cost your business as much.

5. Application evaluation

Once you have presented everything to the US. Patent and Trademark offices, you will be required to wait. This can be a long process, but with an attorney at hand, the process will be smooth. The status of the application can be monitored every 3 or 4 months. An examining attorney completes the review and approves the application. This takes at least 12 months.

6. Rejection or approval

If a registration goes through, then you will be within the legal bounds to use the trademark on your products or services. You should also note that the trademark goes through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board even after its approval by the attorney and it is only certified if this board doesn’t oppose the trademark.

Rejection of the trademark registration can be appealed if the name isn’t immoral, a primary surname, slanders a person, resembles another, etc.

In conclusion, though the registration process can be lengthy, it is your first step to improving your brand image and this can result in an increased return on investment (ROI). To ensure success of the registration process, do not leave blank spaces on the application form, use a valid and active email address, and work with an attorney registered to work in the US.

Meeting the Middle: Why a Balanced Message Promotes Sustainability

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Its been 10 years since “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Al Gore film, first hit the big screen. Do yourself a favor; go back and rewatch it.

When it first hit theaters, I took my entire company to see it — a team of scientists and engineers working to solve problems with social and environmental impact. I was surprised when one of my engineers turned to me before the showing and asked, “Do you really believe in this climate change stuff?” By the time the showing was over, however, he was saying, “I don’t know why I ever doubted it.”

That’s the power of messaging. By driving home a well-researched message that was hard to refute, the film transformed conversations about climate change and effectively jump-started the sustainability movement we know today. It did so by moving the opinion of the masses rather than rallying the extremes.

Unfortunately, the majority of documentaries and campaigns that have come in the 10 years since have failed to sway the masses in the same way that this landmark film did.

Where have these campaigns gone wrong? By focusing on the most extreme — and most refutable — studies, important environmental issues are being kept on the fringe, never making the impact they truly deserve.

A Black-and-White Message in a Sea of Gray

Not all environmental problems have a clear-cut solution. Even for the most environmentally conscious consumer, it can be difficult to sort out the best approach to sustainable living.

As such, many environmental lobbies try to simplify the equation by taking a more extreme position — even if that position doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny.

Look at “Cowspiracy,” a recent documentary outlining the massive impact of industrial animal agriculture on the environment. With a wide-angle view, the message is spot-on — the meat and dairy industries carry a massive carbon footprint. But the documentarian continually cites one study stating that the byproducts of animal agriculture are responsible for 51 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — a figure that isn’t corroborated by any other scientific study.

As a result, when people discuss the documentary, they tend to focus less on the issue and more on the data used to back it up. Environmental “haters” are quick to discard the entire premise because the data was cherry-picked to make an extreme argument. An otherwise important message is clouded by the veracity of a single statement. The result is rallying the fringe rather than imparting change by moving the masses.

The anti-GMO movement uses some of the same tactics. Too often, these campaigns tout the extremes — single, oft-refuted studies — rather than the wealth of data showing the safety and benefits of genetically modified foods.

Now, I’m not arguing that use of genetic modifications has always resulted in absolutely beneficial results. But to ignore the positives that have occurred is just as ignorant. Golden rice, for example, is a genetically modified alternative in the Philippines that contains important nutrients — ones that populations in Asia and Africa desperately need.

The GMO labeling effort could gain more support if the information given to the public about genetic modification wasn’t so one-sided and extreme. By painting all GMO foods with the same large brush, many life-saving crops are cast in a negative light — tainting the message behind the effort.

The setting aside of consensus isn’t a strictly partisan problem, either. Fringe environmentalists may tout far-fetched statistics, but the anti-vaccination movement has been guilty of the same. After falsely claiming a link between vaccinations and autism, the anti-vaxxer movement opened up the world to dangerous illnesses like measles or whooping cough that had once been nearly wiped off the map.

The most radical study will only convince the most radical minds, and the most conservative statistic will only satisfy the most conservative viewpoint. Undecideds are left untouched.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

The ultimate goal of any campaign shouldn’t be a shocking headline — it should be a truly inclusive look at the issue.

This means looking beyond the catchiest, most clickable statistic and relying on the bulk of literature to drive home a message. Which message is better: saying that global temperatures will rise four degrees or saying that they will rise two degrees, with some studies suggesting they could rise as high as four? The latter may be more nuanced, but it’s also harder to refute, and the potential damage is just as significant.

Don’t set aside sound science for sound bites. It’s not about convincing those on the edges of the issue — it’s about swaying those in the middle. That’s what creates a true impact.

As long as environmental issues are viewed as fringe, they will never succeed. However, by taking a balanced and nuanced approach, campaigns can begin to sway the minds of the masses and cultivate real change.

R U There? How Crisis Text Line is Using Technology To Its Advantage

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Nancy Lublin giving a TedTalk on the creation of CrisisTextLine.org

Crisis Text Line was launched quietly with no marketing initiative in late 2013. Within a few months, they were operating in all area codes in the United States which is a faster growth than when Facebook was launched.

Crisis Text Line received more than 6.5 million texts in less than two years, from the date the algorithms were developed. For instance, if a text uses the words ‘rubber band’ and ‘MG’ there is a 99% match for substance abuse. This prompts the counsellor to ask specific questions or highlights the nearest drug centres to the texter.

Data and evidence can make research, policy, policing and school boards better and more effective to helping young people who are being bullied, suffering from eating disorders or being abused. Crisis Text Line believe in open collaboration and sharing the information they have learnt on social media and at conferences in an effort to help inform others’ practice. This data has been made public and available on www.crisistrends.org.

Crisis Text Line serves anyone, and it is free and available to use 24/7. Texters just need to text ‘START’ to 741741 from anywhere in the USA about any type of crisis, and a trained counsellor will receive and respond quickly. Counsellors are volunteers, and they aim to help move the texter from a hot moment to a cool moment. Texts to Crisis Text Line are free from all major phone networks including, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile which was announced in July 2015. These networks also announced texts to Crisis Text Line would not appear on billing statements allowing texters privacy and confidentiality in moments of crisis.

Whilst Crisis Text Line believes that science and technology make them better able to respond faster and more accurately, they do not think robots make great Crisis Counsellors. This means that every text you send will be viewed by a human.

Crisis Text Line aim to respond to texts within 5 minutes. However, if the service is extremely busy the waiting time may increase. Currently, the system is only able to process 140 characters in one text message. The service can also be reached through Facebook Messenger which is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. Anonymity still applies and Crisis Text Line will not have access to your profile information. If you would like your data deleted via Facebook messenger you should message Crisis Text Line back with the word ‘LOOFAH’, they will scrub your data from the system and ask Facebook to do this too! Although Crisis Text Line provides a free resource for people to access in times of crisis, it is not a replacement for long-term counselling, therapy and/or a friend.

Crisis Text Line was founded by Nancy Lublin, Founder of Do Something, who saw a need for a service to help people in crisis. In her TED Talk, Lublin cites the text of one young person  who stated that, “he won’t stop raping her, it’s her dad, R U there?”. From this, Nancy knew she had to create a crisis text line because young people communicate primarily through texts.

Text messaging is private, no one can hear you, the messages given are just the facts and not communicated through ‘ums’ ‘ahs’, or hysterical crying. This meant that counsellors could act quickly and in some cases trigger active rescues which can save a young person’s life. Crisis Text Line initiate 2.41 active rescues each day. Crisis Text Line does not respond to texts chronologically, and they triage texts based on crisis level. Their goal is to provide a service that will help people in crisis get the best support they can give when experiencing a crisis.

If you are interested in becoming a Crisis Counsellor, you must pass a background check, have a US Social Security number, be at least 18 years old, have computer access with a secure internet connection and be able to commit to volunteering 4 hours per week for one year. The application process is rigorous, and it involves a lot of training that will prepare you for what you might experience.

If volunteering is not something you could commit to, you could also donate. Crisis Text Line is a non-for-profit organisation and any donation would help them to develop their service so that they can reach more people experiencing crisis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOtFDsC8JC0

Government, Businesses and Organizations Announce $50 Million in Commitments to Support Women And Girls

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WASHINGTON,DC – Ahead of the first-ever United State of Women Summit, the Obama administration, private-sector companies, foundations and organizations are announcing $50 million in commitments, along with new policies, tools and partnerships that will continue to expand opportunity for women and girls. These announcements include a pledge by more than two dozen leading companies to take actions to continue to close the gender pay gap, new resources to empower community college students to negotiate their first salaries, new campaigns to change how our country values caregiving and improve portrayals of women in media, and enhanced global efforts to promote gender quality worldwide.

Each of these new efforts build on the work that President Obama and his administration have done since the day he took office ensure that women and girls have equal rights, treatment and protections.  He’s signed major pieces of legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – the first major bill he signed into law in January of 2009 – and the Affordable Care Act. He’s dramatically expanded fair pay and paid leave protections. And his administration has systematically encouraged cities and states to embrace policies like higher minimum wage and paid leave.

Underpinning these actions, the President has spoken out and driven a conversation‎ about treating women fairly. He convened the first-ever White House Summit focused on working families to help build 21st century workplaces that better support the needs of families and companies. He has pushed for cultural change that gives women the respect they deserve in schools and in workplaces, and joined advocates in dramatically changing our country’s approach to sexual assault on campus and elsewhere. That conversation has spurred changes in cities and states, businesses big and small, and schools from pre-K to college.

To continue this conversation, tomorrow the President and Vice President will participate in the United State of Women Summit to highlight the progress that has been made over the course of this Administration, and discuss public and private sector solutions to the challenges that still lie ahead. The First Lady will join Oprah Winfrey for a conversation aimed to inspire the next generation of women, shedding light on the progress the First Lady and Ms. Winfrey has seen women achieve and to encourage young women to take action so that progress continues for generations to come.

The primary goal of the Summit is to build a roadmap for future policymakers, stakeholders and advocates to continue to expand opportunities for women and girls. The Summit is being convened by the White House Council on Women and Girls, hosted in partnership with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute, and Civic Nation, and will bring together leaders across a wide array of public and private sector industries, along with students, advocates, entertainers, and athletes, to explore six issue areas that are critical for women and girls: economic empowerment, violence against women, health and wellness, civic engagement, education and entrepreneurship.

The new commitments, resources and initiatives being unveiled tomorrow will build on the progress we have made over the past seven and a half years – both domestically and internationally – on behalf of women and girls. They include:

Commitments from leading companies to join new White House equal pay pledge

Highlighting the critical role that businesses must play in reducing the national gender pay gap, the White House will announce a new private sector engagement, called the White House Equal Pay Pledge, for companies who share this commitment – many of which are already taking steps on their own. Each company signing this pledge commits to take action within their organizations by conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations, reviewing their hiring and promotion processes, embedding equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives, and identifying and promoting other best practices that will help ensure wage fairness for all workers.

As part of this announcement, 28 companies have signed on to the pledge, including Accenture, Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, BCG, Buffer, Care.com, CEB, Cisco, Deloitte, the Dow Chemical Company, Expedia, Inc., Gap Inc., Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Jet.com, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal USA, PepsiCo, Pinterest, Popcorn Heaven, PwC, Rebecca Minkoff, Salesforce, Slack , Spotify, Staples, and Stella McCartney. Additional companies are invited to join this effort in the coming months.

Modernized protections against gender-based discrimination in the workplace

The Department of Labor will publish a final rule comprehensively updating its sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors (including subcontractors) for the first time since the 1970s.  The rule newly addresses a variety of sex-based barriers to equal opportunity and fair pay in the workplace, including pay discrimination; sexual harassment; pregnancy-related accommodations; family caregiving discrimination; and discrimination on the basis of gender identity or transgender status.

New collaboration with Harvard Negotiating & Mediation Clinic to expand career readiness resources through making available negotiation training for community college students nationwide

Negotiation training can be critical in helping workers of any age secure a good job, salary and benefits – but many workers, especially women and those newly entering the job market, can face distinct barriers. Tomorrow, the Department of Education and Harvard Law School’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program – as part of their program in negotiation training – are announcing the development of a new toolkit for community college students around the country to equip them with the knowledge and tools that will better prepare them for starting a career and successfully negotiating their first salary. In addition to being available for community college students, the toolkit will be made publicly available later this year – so will be an important readiness resource for all those newly entering the job market.

The Department of Labor will award more than $54 million in grants to give working parents the ability to train for higher wage jobs while addressing barriers faced by those with child care responsibilities.  This will help working parents address key barriers to participating in and successfully completing training for middle-and high-skilled jobs in in-demand fields, as well as help bridge the gap between the workforce development and child care systems.

By leveraging additional public and/or private funding, the grants promote activities that address barriers to accessing training and employment including co-location of training and child care services; increased access through unconventional training delivery times or locations; flexibilities related to scheduling and child care exigencies; and improved access to child care and other related participant supportive services.  This more than doubles the grant awards previously announced as part of the Department’s Strengthening Working Families Initiative grant program.

A New Coalition to Change How We Value Care in the 21st Century

Child and elder care are key to the economic growth of our country and the wellbeing of our families, but too often, we overlook the needs – and vital economic and social contributions – of paid and unpaid caregivers. Today Care.com, Caring Across Generations, and New America are launching the “Who Cares Coalition,” a unique partnership bringing together a corporation, advocacy campaign, and think tank to spearhead a broad-based social change movement redefining the cultural norms, behaviors, business practices, and policies around caregiving in the US.

The “Who Cares Coalition” will reach millions of families and caregivers by uniting the world’s largest online marketplace for family care; the nation’s top advocate for families, caregivers and aging Americans; and the leading, nonpartisan civic enterprise focused on creating new data and policy analysis on caregivers and changing the narrative around care.

New advertiser-led campaign to improve portrayals of women and girls across advertising and media

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE) will announce a new initiative called “#SeeHer” to incentivize advertisers, content creators and the media to develop and showcase content that portrays diverse women and girls authentically. The ANA is the largest representative body for the marketing community in the United States, including over 650 member companies with 10,000 brands who collectively spend more than $250 billion in marketing and advertising each year. The AFE is a coalition of ANA members with family-driven brands. With the launch of #SeeHer, the ANA will share toolkits to support the campaign and lay out the roles of partner organizations to ensure success.

New foundation-backed initiative to invest in young women of color

Seven women’s foundations are announcing their commitment to launch a Young Women’s Initiative in 2016, which will invest and catalyze resources to improve equal opportunity and the prosperity of young women, with a focus on young women of color and those experiencing the greatest disparities in outcomes in our communities. The Young Women’s Initiative will be built on cross-sector partnerships, including: government; philanthropies; nonprofits; corporations; and, most importantly, the young women themselves. The foundations announcing this commitment include the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, California Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis and The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. The New York Women’s Foundation previously launched a Young Women’s Initiative in 2015.

Academics and Advocacy Groups Launch a Policy Platform to support Marginalized Girls

The Girls at the Margin Alliance, a group of  more than 150 alliance members, steered by The National Crittenton Foundation, Rights4Girls, the National Women’s Law Center, Georgetown Center on Policy and Inequality and Girls Inc, will launch a policy platform that will propose concrete, actionable recommendations to ensure that marginalized girls and young women are met with system responses that honor their experiences and voices, provide opportunities for them to heal, develop their strengths, overcome challenges, ensure their safety, and support them in building thriving lives. This platform will provide a framework for change for all organizations and individuals dedicated to the potential of girls and young women. The Alliance was created to advance the best interest of girls who are marginalized by their communities, and often by their families and by the systems charged with their care. 

New report and convening on early educator compensation

The Departments of Health and Human Services and Education are releasing a new report on the compensation of the early care and education workforce. The report examines the low – and often poverty level – wages that child care providers and early educators receive, the vast majority of whom are women, the growing demand for high-quality early education to both support working families and foster children’s early brain development, and the key role that early educators and child care providers play in preparing the next generation of girls, and all young children, for success. To organize around solutions that address this issue, the Obama Administration will co-host a convening on June 15th with early childhood stakeholders, in partnership with the National Head Start Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Service International Employees Union.

Enhanced global efforts to empower women and promote gender equality worldwide

The U.S. Department of State will release a new strategy for women’s economic empowerment across the globe. The strategy will outline four broad policy objectives: promoting women’s equal access to resources and services, promoting women’s equal access to decent work, promoting women’s entrepreneurship, and addressing overarching issues that impede women’s economic participation, such as gender-based violence.  The State Department’s overseas missions and domestic offices and bureaus will use the strategy to guide their efforts to support women’s economic participation and pursue gender integration across their portfolios.

The White House will announce updates to two global strategy cornerstones of the U.S. Government’s commitment to advancing human rights and promoting gender equality worldwide. The updated U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, jointly led by USAID and the State Department, reflects our growing understanding of gender-based violence, including historic provisions for vulnerable populations, such as lesbian and transgender women. Established in a 2012 Executive Order in order to prioritize U.S. foreign policy and programs to combat gender-based violence worldwide using a whole-of-government, interagency approach, it lays out the tools the U.S. Government is employing to prevent and combat this scourge.  Annually, the State Department and USAID contribute approximately $150 million to support projects all over the world that support women’s and community groups broadly. USAID alone has reached more than five million survivors of GBV with vital, sometimes life-saving services in more than 40 countries worldwide, and has awarded more than $17 million in dedicated incentive funds to support innovative pilot programs, research, and scaled best practices to address GBV in 15 countries. 

Likewise, the newly updated National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security will provide the framework for U.S. efforts to increase participation of women in peace processes, prevent sexual violence in conflict, empower women to prevent violence, and ensure that women and girls have equal access to relief and recovery resources.

More than $20 million in new commitments to the Let Girls Learn Initiative to support the 62 million girls around the world who are out of school with the opportunity to attain an education: 

CARE is committing to reach three million adolescent girls, by investing $15 million dollars in six countries through its Udaan “Second Chances” school program. Through this new commitment, Second Chances will broaden from India into Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, and Malawi to double its reach. This program provides an intensive, nine month curriculum to help girls who were unable to finish primary school, catch up to their peers. Through Second Chances, some of the world’s most marginalized girls have returned to school and some have even gone on to college. With a 95 percent success rate, CARE plans to broaden this program with the support of ministries of education, corporations, foundations, and local organizations.

Oracle is committing to invest more than $3 million in direct and in-kind funds over the next 12 months to promote and support educational opportunities for adolescent girls around the world. Under this Let Girls Learn commitment, Oracle Academy, Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) communities, Oracle’s Diversity & Inclusion program, and Oracle Volunteers will offer more than 65 direct educational events and support conferences, summer computing camps, and codefests for girls, reaching more than 55,000 students around the globe and inspiring them to explore and pursue opportunities in STEM fields.  The Oracle Education Foundation and Oracle Volunteers will teach girls coding, electrical engineering, and project management through four immersive girls-only workshops. Oracle also plans to expand the work of its Oracle Academy program in Egypt by making an additional investment of nearly $1 million in resources and services over the next four years as part of a new partnership with the Ministry of Education in Egypt to expand computer science education for girls in nine newly developed STEM schools. These schools, also supported by USAID, will provide three years of paid secondary education for each girl.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is committing to deliver new programs worth $1 million to adolescent girls in the most conflict-affected states in Africa and the Middle East, including programming that addresses how violence impacts girls’ learning and their ability to access education services. Through its education and GIRL SHINE programs, IRC will target the hardest-to-reach adolescent girls with an in-school and out-of-school enhanced package of services, including girl-only safe spaces and discussion groups, life skills and social and emotional skill development curricula, remedial support in math and reading, parent and caregiver support groups, and an interactive visioning program that breaks down barriers, reduces violence, and ensures increased access to education.

The Hershey Company is committing to support projects that will empower and educate adolescent girls through a $250,000 three-year commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund. The Hershey Company has a long history of giving underserved children the resources they need to be successful. Tomorrow, the company will advance this shared social purpose through this new commitment to Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund.

PayPal is featuring Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in its Back to School charitable giving campaign this August as part of an effort to raise awareness and encourage millions of PayPal U.S. users to support Let Girls Learn projects around the world. In addition to encouraging customers in the U.S. to support the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund, PayPal will add 1 percent to each donation, ensuring that 101 percent of every gift made by PayPal U.S. users reaches Let Girls Learn projects.

American Airlines, through its Change for Good partnership with UNICEF, commits to expanding support for adolescent girls’ education by working with UNICEF’s “Let Us Learn” initiative. American commits to build upon Let Us Learn’s successes to-date, including awarding more than 4,000 scholarships to girls in Madagascar to help them enroll and stay in school through the lower secondary level, and helping over 8,000 out-of-school adolescent girls enroll in non-formal classes that provide flexible learning opportunities in Nepal.

Just Like My Child Foundation (JLMC) is committing to reach an additional 10,000 vulnerable adolescent girls with their Girl Power Project® in Central Uganda, thereby doubling their current program reach by 2020. An initial investment from the Toni Ko Foundation will launch the JLMC’s $250,000 commitment. The Girl Power Project® was created to empower adolescent girls and to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing secondary school. The Girl Power Project® (GPP) “System in a Box” is an evidence¬-based, innovative, targeted, and scalable mentoring program totaling more than 60 hours of training over two years. It addresses the complex needs of vulnerable adolescent girls’ aged 10¬-15, by ensuring that they stay in school and avoid obstacles in the transition to secondary school. The GPP® empowers girls to live healthy lives by avoiding forced child marriage, HIV transmission, early pregnancy, rape and disease.

AOL, a media technology company with a mission to connect consumers and creators, is taking action in support of Let Girls Learn by announcing the Let Girls Build Challenge. The Challenge, powered by Citizen AOL and AOL’s #BUILTBYGIRLS platform, calls for young women to use the power of technology to conceptualize tech-enabled solutions to the problems facing the #62million girls without access to education. The Challenge will conclude with a final “pitch off” to a live audience, as part of the #BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge, which young women with a background in entrepreneurship to fund tech projects built by other girls. Through the Let Girls Build Challenge, AOL and Let Girls Learn will provide the resources, funding, and mentorship needed to empower the leaders of tomorrow to help open the doors to education globally. For more details please go to builtbygirls.com/letgirlsbuild.

New resources to support efforts to combat and prevent violence against women

The Department of Justice, through its Elder Justice Initiative and its Office for Victims of Crime with support from the Office for Access to Justice, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, will announce Elder Justice AmeriCorps, a $2 million grant program to provide legal assistance and support services to victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation – the majority of whom are women – and to promote pro bono capacity building in the field. This grant to Equal Justice Works will be the first ever army of new lawyers and paralegals to help victims of those who prey on our nation’s elders.

The Department of Justice, through its Office on Violence on Women (OVW), is investing $3.2 million in new initiatives to prevent domestic violence homicides. This includes $700,000 for the establishment of a new National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms to improve the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence homicides involving firearms, as well as a new $900,000 technical assistance grant award to a consortium of organizations that will work closely with OVW to provide enhanced training and technical assistance to implement an effective firearms response at the local, state, and tribal levels. OVW has also entered into a partnership with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to launch the new $1.6 million National Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Initiative (NIPVII). NIPVII will work with three cities, to be selected as part of the demonstration pilot, to replicate a successful strategy for reducing intimate partner violence and homicides. The National Institute of Justice will oversee an evaluation of the initiative through a grant to Yale University. Additionally, OVW will announce the addition of two new cities, Miami, FL and Winnebago County, IL, as replication sites for the Lethality Assessment Program model. This model was included as part of OVW’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative, established in 2012

The Department of Justice, through its Office on Violence Against Women, will award nearly $1.2 million to two organizations to help jurisdictions implement the Department of Justice Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which was released by the Attorney General in December 2015. Through training and technical assistance, these grants will develop resources and build the capacity of law enforcement and advocacy organizations to improve responses to domestic and sexual violence victims

Today, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) will release a special report, Down the Road: Testing Evidence in Sexual Assaults. It highlights findings from NIJ-supported action research projects in Houston and Detroit, where two multidisciplinary teams of criminal justice professionals developed effective strategies to address the large numbers of sexual assault kits that had not been submitted for DNA testing. The report offers key lessons for improving responses to sexual assault based on research findings from Houston and Detroit and discusses NIJ’s forensic and social science research portfolios as they relate to using biological evidence to solve sexual assaults.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families Office on Trafficking in Persons has partnered with the Office on Women’s Health to create a training for healthcare and social service providers offering trauma-informed services to survivors of human trafficking. This will be complemented by a new initiative to collect data to improve understanding of how trafficking survivors interact with the health system and with social service providers, and will begin in August 2016.

The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will invest $1.35 million in holistic services for American Indian and Alaska Native victims of sex trafficking in urban settings. Organizations awarded funds through this investment will be supported by Project Beacon, a training and technical assistance project that will help service providers’ work to promote the healing of sex trafficking victims. OVC will support Project Beacon through an additional investment of $450,000.

The Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, through its National Girls Initiative, will provide an additional $700,000 in funds to support eleven community programs in Iowa, Hawaii, New York, California, Texas, Connecticut, Washington state, and the District of Columbia, that are working with young women and girls at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. These programs are culturally-responsive, and build on girls’ strengths to empower them to build brighter futures.

The Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women will release a report summarizing the sustained impact of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) throughout communities across the country, drawing from conversations with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking service providers from over twenty states and tribes.

World Day of Social Justice: Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies

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February 20th marks the World Day of Social Justice established by the United Nations (UN), and this year’s theme recognises environmentally sustainable economies and societies. The World Day of Social Justice brings together the fundamental values that all societies should have: equality, harmony, solidarity and social justice. The United Nations holds social justice at the core of its mission to promote development and human dignity.

Governments have made a commitment to the creation of a framework for action that promotes social justice not only a national level, but internationally. In addition, Governments around the world have also pledged to promote equal distributions of income and resources and have recognised that a society for all needs to be based on respect for all human rights.

The World Day of Social Justice places an emphasis on civic duty, engagement and solidarity which is a new politics that will bring a society defined by utilitarianism. That which is fair, moral and just is that which a civilization must decide in order to assure social justice. A day in which the General Assembly will recognise that social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security amongst nations. Social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security, or in the absence of freedom.

Oxfam reported that 80% of the world’s richest people had the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people. The effects of economic inequality can have drastic results, even in the UK there is a growing divide between the life expectancy of the richest and poorest within society.

In 2008, the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization was adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in an effort to show its commitment to social justice. The Declaration posits that achieving improved and fair outcomes are necessary for the aspirations of a just society.

“In this crucial year for global development, as Member States work to craft a post-2015 agenda and a new set of sustainable development goals, let us do our utmost to eradicate all forms of human exploitation. Let us strive to build a world of social justice where all people can live and work in freedom, dignity and equality.”  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Whilst globalization and interdependence are opening opportunities through trade, investment and capital flows which encourage the improvement of living standards around the world, there are still severe challenges such as insecurity, poverty and inequality amongst societies which places barriers to further integration and participation in the global economy.

In June 2014 the International Labour Conference voted overwhelmingly to adopt a Protocol and a Recommendation that provided specific guidance on effective measures to be taken that would help eliminate forms of forced labour. In 2015, the International Labour Organization held a panel discussion on modern forms of forced labour and human trafficking and the impact this had on national and global social and economic development.

In order to advance social justice, societal barriers must be removed. These include gender, age, race, religion, culture and disability. The 2015 theme for the World Day of Social Justice was ending human trafficking and forced labour. Forced labour takes different forms including trafficking and debt bondage. Victims of this are usually women, migrants or sweatshop workers.

Whilst unemployment has been falling in developed countries, the job crisis is not likely to end in the short term, especially in emerging countries. Unemployment rates are expected to rise by 2.3 million, reaching 199.4 million in 2016 with an additional 1.1 million forecasted to be added to the global tally by 2017.  This means that both males and females are likely to have to accept lower paid jobs, both in emerging and developing economies.

Urgent action should be taken to increase the number of work opportunities in order to alleviate tensions. Policies need to focus more on strengthening employment and tackling the inequalities. Furthermore, vulnerable employment is concerning high in developing economics with peaks in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Keep up to date with the World Day of Social Justice on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WDSJ2016! Additionally, there are many resources online for teachers including lesson plans about social justice too!

Foundations for Tomorrow: Helping Huntsville’s Homeless

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Foundations for Tomorrow is a community initiative that provides a tiny home community where Huntsville’s homeless can reside whilst transitioning back into society. This unique initiative was founded by Nicky Beale after the eviction of Huntsville’s Homeless from tent city in the Spring of 2014.

Foundations for Tomorrow has set its sights on building 30 tiny homes that will populate an acre of land, and allow its inhabitants to develop a community where they will live, eat and work together, according to the group’s fundraising site. Foundations for Tomorrow gained tremendous community support, helping this unique organisation help those who need it most.

SWH: Could you tell us about the mission and vision you have for Foundations for Tomorrow?

Beale: Our mission is to provide a tiny home community in which Huntsville’s homeless can reside while transitioning back into society. We hope to have a village for our homeless to temporarily reside in while they find a job, apply for public housing, and get the services they need to help them contribute to society.

SWH: How did your first tiny homes project come about?

Beale: It all started with my passion for tiny homes. I am a single mom with a five year old so living tiny would be a hard transition for us. But, I had a passion to give back to my community and a passion to change lives, so I decided to start building tiny homes and letting the homeless live in them. I thought it was a genius idea, but when I googled it, Andrew Heben with Opportunity Village has just stood up a village in Eugene Oregon. I connected with him and people in the Huntsville community and it all started to come together in a snowball way. I truly believe that if you start living your purpose, things will align in a divine way. At least with me, it did and still is.

SWH: What types of challenges and barriers have you run into?

Beale: There are a lot of challenges and barriers when trying to implement tiny homes as a viable solution to homelessness. First and foremost are zoning codes. Tiny homes are considered camping and in most cities, you are not allowed to camp within the city limits. These rules are to protect property value so it is hard to get city support to allow tiny homes. Another challenge we face is the lack of education on homelessness. People have stereotypes about the homeless that have to be undone.

City officials here believe that our tiny homes are inhumane because they don’t have running water or electricity. This is understandable coming from a person with a house, but when you spend any time in tent cities you realize that providing a hardened structure for our homeless citizens is the first step to reintegrating them back into the community. It provides them with security, privacy, a dry place to sleep, an address, and most importantly gives them a big dose of hope that living in a tent takes from them.

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SWH: For people who are interested in replicating what you did in their local communities what steps would you advise them to take?

Beale: First and foremost educate yourself by reading Andrew Heben’s book Tent City Urbanism. It walks you through all the important steps of taking a tent city and transitioning the people to a hardened structure. He touches on all the barriers and challenges and how they overcame them. Second, would be to start talking to people in the community that already deal with the homeless on a regular basis to try and build support through other non-profits.

They can be very helpful in addressing who the important stakeholders are in the community. Another step is to familiarize yourself with the homeless in your city. See what challenges they face and what their day consists of so you can be an educated representative for them. After all that preparation and homework you can start to address city leaders.

SWH: What is next for Foundations for Tomorrow, and how can people support your efforts?

Beale: Foundations for Tomorrow is currently finishing our third house. We have an event with a local brewery and pizza place on Valentine’s Day to raise money and awareness. The Foundation is hosting a Tiny Home Build Workshop in April so people can learn how to build a tiny home and give back to the community at the same time. If anyone would like to help in our mission they can donate on our website, foundationsfortomorrowal.com

The Sixth Annual Social Good Summit Will Inspire World Action

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Since 2010, the Social Good Summit has grown substantially aided by the increasing popularity of social media and technology. Mashable in partnership with the United Nations General Assembly decided to bring people together global leaders to discuss how to utilize technology to eradicate poverty. People over the globe are becoming empowered to share their voices in an effort to be heard, and the Social Good Summit has committed to listening to those diverse voices.

The Social Good Summit is a two day conference discussing the impact of technology and media on current social good initiatives. Starting today on September 27th, days after the United Nations ratification of its Global Goals, the goals aim to eradicate poverty, inequality, increase access to education and protect the environment.

It is hoped that these goals will create sustained growth of the bottom 40% of the population to empower and promote their general welfare. These goals will guide policy and funding, and the purpose of the Social Good Summit is discuss the coordination of these goals globally. With now over 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, it is clear why the UN has a youth focus to work towards the eradication of poverty by 2030.

The venue for this year’s Social Good Summit is 92nd Street Y which is a world class cultural and community centre that encourages people to connect through culture, the arts, entertainment and conversation. This year’s speakers include Kathy Calvin and Pete Cashmore, the CEO’s of the United Nations Foundation and Mashable respectively, as well as Sienna Miller, Charlize Theron and Savannah Guthrie. Using the hashtag #2030Now, social media and live streaming will definitely allow everyone to get involved!

In 2014, over 170 countries were connected through video and social media, with 65 countries and counting for 2015 it is thought this year could be even bigger. Jamaica, Turkmenistan and Guatemala have signed up and for the first time ever will be involved in the Social Good Summit. Global meet-ups will play a huge part in the Social Good Summit and allow people around the globe to take part and discuss how communities are using the digital tools to build a brighter future.

Also in 2014, #2030 trended at number one globally, breaking down any language barriers between the 45 different languages involved! The Social Good Summit is surrounded by a week of related events which provide encouragement to take action and identify innovations that can create the world we want. Two days of jam-packed sessions, including ‘The Tipping Point for Human Rights’, ‘Sustainable Cities’ and regular global meet-up check-ins, to keep everyone involved.

The voices of global citizens will be a necessary force for change, and the Social Good Summit has taken on the role of helping to facilitate conversations with UN officials, pop culture icons, activists and entrepreneurs around the world who want to create this change. Be a part of the Social Good Summit in helping to create the kind of world we all want to make a reality. Watch the summit via live stream at https://livestream.com/Mashable.

Social Work for a New Generation

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Social work is at a crossroads. As a new generation of social workers move towards graduation and entrance into the profession, we face a unique conundrum. Millennials overall are earning less despite being the best educated generation in history. We are struggling to pay student loans and are widely expected to be the first generation to fare worse than our parents. We know from our own struggles this is not for lack of effort.

Injustices have been allowed to fester and grow unchecked. The social work profession must choose how to address the concerns of this new generation–dedicated to meeting the needs of others, but who are also struggling to meet their own.

For millennials, there is little choice. We will lead for a better tomorrow.

Millennial social workers are recognizing the importance of clinical, community, and political practitioners working in tandem for change at all levels, and the foundations to support this philosophy are being laid down at this moment. Recognizing the unique perspectives of our generation, YSocialWork is launching as a millennial-driven organization that will apply social work methods to the profession itself.

YSocialWork, originally launched as a hashtag for the inaugural Student Advocacy Day platform for social work students in the United States,  is a socially conscious, grassroots start-up based in Washington, DC.  It seeks to provide training and education to youth and young professionals in the areas of innovation, leadership development, and political engagement.  Since its inception in 2014, as the driving force behind creating new opportunities for students in policy-entrepreneurial engagement, YSocialWork continues to empower its members to transform ideas into sustainable solutions in the classroom, community , and government.

Examples of policy-entrepreneurial activities led by YSocialWork will include (but not be limited to): idea generation activities, problem framing activities, dissemination activities, strategic activities, demonstration project activities, activities cultivating bureaucratic insiders and advocates, activities enlisting support from elected officials, lobbying activities, and administrative and evaluative activities (Roberts & King, 1991).

I’m a millennial who became politically conscious under the second Bush Administration–tainted as it was with an air of corruption and illegitimacy. My entire adult life, the United States has been at war. I’ve only experienced an economic recession, despite the alleged recovery. My political reality has been shaped by seeing advocates who stood against the conservative Bush agenda all but disappear as a new Democratic administration came to power–but the injustices remain.

I saw a political system change but go unchanged.

I changed. What might have been the making of partisan loyalty eroded. The belief that good politicians could change the system from the inside dissipated. Because every good politician must confront a system fueled by money and seniority–two things that have a way of influencing political thought and behavior.

I cheered the Arab Spring, the occupation of the Wisconsin capitol, and of course Occupy Wall Street.

In the midst of it all, I became a social worker, drawn by its values–so simple yet essential–a belief in the inherent value and worth of all people and the pursuit of social justice. It is the only profession that carries such a mandate. Social work seemed like the obvious answer to our fragmented systems for social good with micro, mezzo, and macro practice united by a common mission to enhance human well-being.

Unfortunately, our profession has become unbalanced, with an emphasis on clinical practice that comes at the expense of organizing and political work. This is not unlike my own generation. No matter how idealistic we may once have been, we have disengaged from the political in favor of individual impact. We are a generation undeniably invested in social good, but we have not yet mastered how to maximize our impact.

To be sure, this is changing. The vestiges of Occupy–once apolitical–have found a candidate in Bernie Sanders. The historic Black Lives Matter movement has grown to engage not only in street protests, but the political sphere through its strategic confrontations with presidential candidates and the launch of a policy agenda–Campaign Zero. We are learning quickly how to use all the tools at our disposal and to attack the ills of our world from multiple angles.

We must recommit to our core values. We need social workers helping communities to stand up and force systemic change. We need social workers to be political leaders who will listen and take action with the interests of society’s most vulnerable at heart. We need front-line social workers to help individuals overcome their personal struggles and navigate existing systems. We need a united front of social workers for social justice.

Global Citizen Encourages You to Help Eradicate Extreme Poverty by 2030

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With poverty and inequality being extremely prominent in the media recently, the Global Citizen’s Festival is well timed to advocate on behalf of their goal to end extreme poverty by 2030. So what is Global Citizen and how does it aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030? It’s a mission that can not be achieved without your help.

Global Citizen is a community of people committed to tackling societal challenges in the world and encouraging other people to do the same. Global Citizen believes courageous actions taken by those who believe in a better world will shape history and change society. Extreme poverty is one of the greatest injustices at the present time and it strips people of their basic rights as well as access to opportunities.

Whilst extreme poverty has halved in the last 30 years, there is still more work to do. Poverty can be a vicious cycle but if we come together to learn and take action we can change the rules trapping people in these cycles. Global Citizen does not ask for charity, it asks for help in fighting injustice. Global citizen wants people to advocate and use their passion to take action on issues that will help eradicate extreme poverty.

Global Citizen have several themes that we all can become involved in:

The first theme is food and hunger, and it is thought that people who are well fed will perform better in education and create more stable communities which will allow them to take advantage of the opportunities to end extreme poverty. The world has enough food to feed everyone, and we need to ensure this is spread more equally! The second theme is education, and by focusing on education for all children, it will encourage more leaders to lead society out of poverty and build communities that will thrive.

There are still millions of children without a good standard of education. Education is a basic right that we all deserve. The third theme focuses on health because everyone must be healthy in order to end extreme poverty. Healthy people can live fuller lives and take more opportunities to develop themselves. Health is vital for pregnant mothers, new-borns and children who require vaccines and access to healthcare that many are not receiving.

It is estimated that over a billion people suffer the indignity of having to defecate in open areas which is why water and sanitation is a top priority of Global Citizen. Waste systems and clean water are not a luxury, and it is a necessity that could save millions of lives each year and help eliminate diseases. Finance and innovation is also highly important. By funding development, it will help the global community to empower people to make changes and innovate in order to help themselves break the poverty cycle.

Women and girls are often subjected to some of the harshest aspects of poverty.  Global Citizen believes promoting better education for women and girls will also them become powerful leaders. A great example of the power of education for women and girls is Malala Yousafazi who was shot by the Taliban for speaking publicly about the importance of girl’s education. I received an email that Malala has now started a petition to encourage support to stand up for over 60 million girls around the world who do not receive the opportunity of education, which you can also sign here. This shows we can all make change, but we need to take the steps to do it like Malala Yousafazi.

Most importantly, we should not forget about the environment. Working towards these goals will mean more healthy people who can help take care of the earth and protect those who live on it. To participate and work on these themes Global Citizen have recommended actions such as tweeting, writing, making phone calls and/or email. These can all be found by clicking on each theme on the Global Citizen website. By completing these simple actions, we can make the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 happen a lot sooner!

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Anthony Quintano via Flikr

On September 26th, Global Citizen will host its annual Global Citizen Festival on the Great Lawn of New York’s Central Park which also coincides with the launch of the United Nation’s global goals. To date more than 150,000 people have attended the festival with more than 30 million watching the festival.

The festival channels the power of thousands of global citizens to achieve policy and financial commitments that shape success. The Global Citizen Festival is supported by many brands from YouTube, to H&M to Unilever and many more. YouTube will feature a special livestream and a live simulcast of the full concert will be available on MSNBC and msnbc.com.

Screenwriter Richard Curtis will also produce a one-hour special to air on NBC on Sunday, September 27th. For all those in the UK, don’t worry. It will also air on BBC One on Monday, September 28th. The festival also involves artists such as Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay to name a few. The Global Poverty Project is a registered non-profit organisation who works in partnership with business leaders, world leaders and global citizens to call on governments to support policies that would impact the poor.

So far, Global Citizens have taken a massive 2.3 million actions to fight against extreme poverty in the last four years which have resulted in 87 commitments and policy announcements including cash commitments which are valued at around $18.3 billion.

With your help, extreme poverty can be ended and Global Citizen encourages us all to help in that journey. We tweet and email every day, let’s do it today to create change! Global Citizen has taken on an amazing goal which encourages everyone to participate, and we can eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

What Do You Stand4: Interview with Andy Hill Founder of Social Good Startup Stand4

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Stand4 helps you make your mark on the world. They’ve made it extremely easy, through their app, to support whatever causes you want, whenever you want, and however you want. Whether it be through donations in which they don’t take a percentage, to petitions that can be signed with a swipe of your finger, to (my personal favorite) sponsoring stands that actually donate for you every time you perform a challenge. Any time you do easy things like drinking a beer or checking-in, they’ll donate to whatever cause you care about. Simple as that.

What’s really exciting is their ability to track and show your impact. So if you drew a 4 on the App to give a child a cup of clean water, they’ll actually send in-the-moment project updates of the filters being made, filters being delivered, and the exact school you gave water to. It’s legit. Here is my interview with Andy Hill founder of the social good startup Stand4.

Stand4 is a social impact app that empowers people to change the world without donating a dime. 

Let’s first talk about how this idea came about and when was the ah-ha moment, when you said ok I want to really launch this?

screen1136x1136Andy: About 9 months ago, my partners and I started studying the social and economic philosophies on why people give and what we found very interesting is that when an individual gives, they’re doing it because giving carries with it a sense of fulfillment; a sentiment, unlike any other, that is fostered in the belief that their contributions lead to a better, more desirable world. But we, as individual givers, never get to see our impact on the world, whether it be with a single event or as a collective sum. And therefore our fulfillment is minimized by an outdated charitable system.

At Stand4 we were founded in a belief that the way we change the world hasn’t changed in 150 years. We believed (and still do) that there are causes and stories that resonate with each of us, and we are intrinsically motivated to help. So Stand4 set out to create a new system. One where we could support what we care about further than our wallets would allow and even more importantly, then be able to see the exact impact our support helped accomplish.

Can you explain how users can make a real impact without actually having to donate money?

Andy: Stand4 actively partners with corporate sponsors who set aside a pool of funds for donation through our app. Our users choose where this money is allocated by ‘taking stands’ for their favorite causes. Every time a stand is taken, a monetary donation is made. This empowers people to make a significant impact in the world, without worrying about their wallet. Everything that comes as a result of their stand is collected and showcased on their profile, giving them the ability to immediately see all the lives they’ve touched, problems they’ve helped solve, and overall impact they’ve made on the world. Nowhere does this exist today.

How many organizations can users choose from when wanting to take a stand? Is an organization teamed with a particular stand?

Andy: Stand4 has initially partnered with some of the world’s most innovative non-profits including Kiva, Invisible Children, The Adventure Project, and Watsi. We’ve also partnered with several smaller non-profits we believe are making a big difference. In total, users can stand for 7 different organizations right now. We’re rapidly expanding tho and expect to bring on another 20 partners in the next month.

When we bring on a non-profit partner we work with them to determine what a particular stand will equal. Below are what each stand goes towards.

Kiva: 1 oz of food
Watsi: 1 medical treatment
Invisible Children: 1 come home message
The Adventure Project: .1% raise in income for a Kenyan farmer
May We Help: 1 part of a custom medical device
TruWater: 1 cup of clean water
Miami Children’s Initiative: 1 minute of education

Did you have a certain idea of what corporate sponsors you wanted to work with? How did the process go in terms of choosing sponsors you wanted to team up with?

Andy: Our corporate sponsors say a lot about what we as a company stand for – so it’s very important to us to partner with companies who share our innovative vision for change. Some of our beta sponsors include Pasta Chips (www.pastachips.com) and KIND Snacks (www.kindsnacks.com). We’re on-boarding more sponsors as we speak.

At the core level is the app intended to be a social network of like minded individuals collaborating for causes?

Andy: Stand4 is the social network for social impact. It’s a place where users can discover the causes they care about, support them in multiple ways, and see their entire footprint on the world in one place. Our app empowers users to showcase what it is they stand for in life and interact and collaborate with individuals who stand for similar causes.

ST4ND is currently available for download. You can download the app, sign in, and start making stands, but what type of features are available in the Stand4 app? 

You can now tag anyone if you want to comment on a Stand, comment on an interesting story you saw, or on fun challenges you saw friends take. Users can now challenge anyone to take a stand with you. Take a pic of a sunset post it and challenge you friend to take pic of the sunset wherever they are at. Once the challenge is completed your friends will have 24 hours to vote on the winner. When a challenge is completed it triggers a 2x donation to that particular stands cause for double the impact. Also, you can now search your entire home feed for specific stands, stories, or challenges. You can also search the Stand4 community to find other people on the app.

Explore all of the available Stands and uncover how effortless it is to impact the world. Make your mark by snapping pictures, answering fun questions, and a whole lot more – for every Stand you take, we donate.

Download the Stand4 app and start making an impact – iOS –  Android

We bring your entire charitable footprint to the digital world. Share the impact that you’re making with your friends and see the impact that they’re sharing with you. Watch your collective footprints pave the way to a better and brighter future.

Starting Your Journey: I Am A Social Worker

Do you remember when you made the decision to become a social worker? Your decision was a defining moment of  your life, and it was the moment you decided who you wanted to be and what you wanted to do with your life. You defined your goal and set out on your journey to achieve your chosen profession. Filled with compassion and the desire to help others, you were prepared to serve in a thankless job with low pay because the joy of helping someone achieve their goals would be thanks enough.

I am a social workerI want to share a story about a social worker named Evelyn who has strong passion for helping people in need which led to her making the decision to become a social worker. Her heart bounced at every step as she made the decision to become a social worker who would change the world while bringing peace and love for the poor, the abused, the lonely.

In 2002, Evelyn finally finished school ready to take action and help lots of clients. She got her first job at the local school for disabled children, and she felt like a hero starting her journey in search of the holy grail. Of course, there would be dragons and wicked witches to slay, but Evelyn felt strong and capable with I am a Social Worker written in big capitals at her forehead.

I promised you a little story, so lets fast forward to 2014. Picture Evelyn on her couch at home, and her two sons playing Counterstrike on the dining table adding noise in the room. The noise disturbs her thoughts while she is busy giving her opinion in a discussion group on Linkedin.

Evelyn writes: I just wish the social work profession was respected like the rest of the healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, even as many have made this our chosen career, we have not escaped the image of volunteer and our salaries speak to that.

Evelyn made her profile on Linkedin two years ago, which was when she lost her job. It was a simple case of cutting the budgets. Evelyn hoped to find a new job on Linkedin, but she didn’t. Instead of a new job, Evelyn found on Linkedin many social workers in the same situation. They were discussing things like: why are our salaries so low, who will blame the government, how can we advocate for ourselves.

Her heart wasn’t bouncing anymore, and her passion for helping people in need was just a dream of the past. Sitting on her couch, her two boys around her, she felt unhappy and frustrated. As you know, frustration can be the germ of inspired action. As Evelyn’s frustration got stronger, a new thought came up in her mind which initially made her feel anxious and uneasy….

Well, I promised you this little story about Evelyn, but I will be sharing more about her in future articles. Just as Evelyn got frustrated, you might also be frustrated not knowing what her thoughts were that made her feel so anxious. I know, I’m sorry, but since this is my first article for The Social Work Helper, I promise you there is more to come.

Evelyn looks a lot like me a couple of years ago, and I’ve made the same journey Evelyn is about to embark on. A journey that started on my couch in Tiel, the Netherlands while feeling like an unhappy social worker. A journey that finally brought me here today to connect with you and teach you all about entrepreneurship for social workers. Until next time…

Does Helping People Mean Earning No to Low Wages

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It happened in class again this week. “You seem to be all about the money.” I have heard these words more often than I care to count. It has been said about me by a more politically diverse group than I care to categorize. So much so, I decided to write about it. There are three fallacies I will challenge  in this article 1) “You can’t care about people if you are busy making money.” 2) “Making a profit is fundamentally different from making a difference.” 3) “Success is measured in people served, not by money made.”

People Versus Money

This is the great non-profit deception: People versus money. First, allow me to dispel your mis-informed belief that all non-profits are one-person, altruistic, low-revenue operations. The successful, enduring ones are no such thing. Most non-profits you know about, that reach name recognition outside your neighborhood, rival fortune 1000 companies in their annual revenue. Don’t believe me? Form 990 is a public document that is a yearly filing requirement for non-profits. See for yourself.

Beyond that fallacy, it is more helpful for you to think “ecosystem” NOT “choice.” Running a business is NOT a choice between serving people OR making money. Running a business is an ecosystem where vision, mission, AND money make possible modest and grand programs that serve people. Just like any ecosystem, remove money from the equation, and the system is choked. Focus too heavily on money to the exclusion of other inputs, and the system is destroyed.

When social workers refuse to recognize the ecosystem that includes money and people, they lose the awareness that the bills are ALWAYS paid. If not by you, they are paid by someone else. The truth is, no matter how convinced you are that altruism is its own reward, someone always foots the bill for activity. I honor their monetary input as an investment. I work to ensure that their investment results in a return AND sustainability for the business they helped birth.

Making Profit Versus Making a Difference

You get the pattern here. These dichotomies are not useful in reasonable circles. They certainly are not a sustainable way to run a business.

Profit is the result of operating a business at lower expenses compared with revenue. Profit is about efficiency. Sustained profit is also about effectiveness–consistent delivery of the expected product.

Making a difference is not at odds with profit. Indeed, making a difference is informed by the same efficiency and effectiveness that profit abides by. Difference is the result of more positive, proactive indicators than negative, reactive indicators. Sustaining the presence of these indicators is the measure of effectiveness–health and well being.

Even more than shared evaluation structure, making a profit and making a difference are linked symbiotically together. The one feeds the other. Money indicates wisdom in the business model, which translates to ability and longevity for the difference-making business. Difference indicates mission-process alignment, which signals management and operations that support money-making. You are right to be suspicious when a lot of money goes in and little difference results. You must also question, when a lot of difference comes out, how we can increase revenue and produce more difference. Explore ways to share what is being done and expand the benefit to a larger service footprint.

When social workers throw out the consideration of profit, they lose a useful indicator of service efficiency and effectiveness. The impetus to grow and change with a community may be lost. The ability to respond to the felt needs may be lost in the lack of fiscal awareness. If your non-profit doors close, you cannot make the difference your business was created to make.

Measuring Success

Service Growth (people) or Shareholder Benefit (profit) is another false dichotomy. Remember. This is your business. You set the shareholder base. You only accept investments from those who share and hold the vision as dearly as you do. To benefit them is to see your business blossom. Your shareholders benefit from great service provision and a sustainable company.

Measuring success by the numbers served also has sustainability concerns. Too big, too fast is a recipe for decline in a business. Integrated conversations with your board, shareholders, and stakeholders can help you grow strategically.

Your service is not only in growth of the numbers served, but in development of your staff. Leadership development along with livable wages and benefits are a must. A business model that realizes monetary gains supports research, development, righteous wages, and fringe benefits.

Utilize Creative destruction as a value in your business to guard against the bloating and mission-creep of size and diffusion. Creative destruction is a periodic shedding of services you find needful, yet do not do well, decide are not the core of your business, or increase your size beyond optimal functioning. It results in what could be termed “spin-offs”–businesses initially founded by the success of your business. Partner with these new agencies, created by your former staff who you helped to launch.

When social workers see only a choice between people and money as a measure of success, they miss the opportunity to partner with shareholders, stakeholders, and staff to build community. The network of services that support the long-term health and well being of us all has use for money. The social worker’s ethics of service and competence are useful here. Our every action of service must include a consideration of the cost of doing so.

No. I’m not ALL about the money. I am about an ecosystem that prizes socially just outcomes while honoring the sacrifice required to sustain gains for the less fortunate. I am about requiring efficacious service not just help that feels good. I am about including all voices and sustainably creating community as the ultimate outcome of a life of service. These considerations are not about money or social good. They utilize money for good.

Social Workers Need to be Social Networkers!

Networking is probably the most important part of anyone’s career, and everyone, especially social workers and students, should be practicing proper networking habits. As social workers, we need to be leaders in our community and build successful relationships with various people, and it is important to connect with professionals in all sectors that can influence the social atmosphere.

imageofsuccessnetworkingcocktailpartyfundraiserNetworking can help build relationships with potential employers, potential clients, potential business partners, and potential personal relationships. Personal relationships drive the way our society operates because we are a social society made up of social human beings. People are more likely to give jobs to people they like or do business with people they know.

Social work students and younger professionals really need to be out there networking to ensure your career development is an easy transition from school and you career develops successfully. We are also the next generation of leaders, and it is good to connect with the current leaders now to understand how we can one day be in those positions.

A few tips you should know about networking:

  • Ask how their day is going before anything else. Don’t be that person that gets down to business right away. This is not a business meeting, and you will be known as that person in the community.
  • Never talk about yourself unless addressed. This is hard, but don’t make it about yourself. People sometimes think about how they can respond to some rather than actually listening. Focus on listening and asking more questions. You will get to a point where you can talk about yourself, but wait until it comes.
  • Always be respectful! Duh!
  • Be sincere. People can tell if you are just talking to them for business purposes. At least pretend to like talking to them.
  • Ask personal questions. Ask about their job, their responsibilities, and their lives. Unless, they are a spokesperson for their company, steer away from company or career specific questions.
  • Only give your contact information if they ask. Don’t just give it right away or stick your business card in their face. If they ask for your contact information, they actually want to stay in touch. Ask for their card if you plan to stay in touch.
  • If you attend the event with friends or coworkers, do not stick with them the whole night. You can meet more people and have more meaningful conversations if you do not have someone who knows you standing right next to you. They can be there for support, but also drag you down. Remember, one person is easier to approach the two or more.
  • Be prepared. Have a business card ready and be prepared to talk and engage.
  • If you plan to stay in touch, ask how. Email, phone, social media. Set up a plan.
  • Have goals for the event. Goals help you stay motivated and push you to talk to people. If you don’t have a goal, then you may just stand in the corner eating the free snacks. A simple goal is meet three people you never met before, or meet someone who can connect you with an agency who can provide you a job. Keep it simple, but have some goals in mind.
  • Never pull out your phone! It’s extremely rude, and should only be answered in emergencies. Everything else can wait.
  • Also, you should wait for them to share with you before sharing photos of your pets or families

One of my former supervisors taught me this method to approach people at a networking or social event. This has been really helpful personally with building relationships with people you may not expect right away would be helpful. The important thing about networking is no matter who you meet, there can always be a benefit of knowing a person. This method uses the acronym FORM and helps you realize potential opportunities to connect with the person in multiple areas than just business.

Family & Personal Life. Ask about the person about themselves before you ask anything else. You are talking to a person, not just an employee of a business. Talk about where they are from, their family, their education, and anything else personal first. Take note, new parents love talking about their children! Also, asking people about their family the next time you see them shows you actually care about the person. Pets are another great way to connect, as well as hometown or cultural traditions. Try to build a connection with someone rather than force it.

Sample Questions:
· Where are you originally from?
· When do you move to the area?
· What are some of your favorite things to do around here?
· Where do you go to school if you did?
· Do you have family here? If so, do you mind me asking about them?

Occupation & Business. After the personal life questions, transition to work. Some people love talking about their job, and some people do not. Our society identifies people based on their occupation. It’s important to know what career someone has, but always remember not to solely associate that person with their work.

Sample Questions:
· What do you for a living?
· Do you like your job?
· What are the best components of your job?
· How long have you been doing it?
· How did you get into that career field?
· What was the best part of your education?

Recreation & Hobbies. People do more than just work. Ask what they like to do for fun. See if they are involved in clubs or associations. People have many interests outside of working, and you could meet someone who likes similar things as you. Also, this is another area to talk about with someone and connect with them in different ways.

Sample Questions:
· What do you like to do outside of work?
· What do you do for fun?
· Do you volunteer for any organizations or causes?
· Do you know of special interest groups or organizations in the area?

Mission & Message. After speaking for some time with a person, this is where you identify what your goal is with that person. Share information about your agency or your career goals. Try to connect with them for professional development opportunities. Identify and plan a way to stay in touch. This is usually the part where us fundraisers talk about the great work our organizations does, and how the person’s support with be helpful or to be involved in the organization. This is a great time because you have demonstrated you actually care about the person more than doing your job.

Sample questions:
· Do you know anyone who could help me?
· Do you have any ideas/advice for me?
· Is there anyone here than you know that I can meet?
· Could we meet for coffee/drinks?
· I would love to stay in touch. Which way is best to contact you?

I have followed this method in the last few months, and met incredible people in the local community. It is truly amazing to hear more about a person beyond their current job, and their personal community service goals. You can figure out many opportunities that person can help you, and how you can help them! Remember social workers should be doing the best we can to ameliorate our communities. The more relationships you build, the bigger your impact can be on the community. Connecting professionals from various sectors can help unite the community in a way to really make a difference in the community. We sometimes underestimate the power of relationship building on a professional level, and it is certainly a priority of social work to advance social justice causes and change the community for good. The more people we know, the more our impact can have.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Eventbrite

What To Do With Those Unwanted Christmas Gifts

Whether it’s a book that you are never going to read or a jumper that just isn’t suited to your style, the chances are that many of us will have received unwanted Christmas gifts that we have no use for. This isn’t to say that these gifts were not appreciated, but they didn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to the type of gift you were hoping for.

However, there may be other reasons why a gift may be unwanted, though such as being damaged or it could even be a duplicate present. Whatever the reason, here are a few options that you can choose from to help you figure out what to do with them.

Problems with Unwanted Christmas Gifts
Problems with Unwanted Christmas Gifts

Talk To The Giver 

There is a need to tread carefully here. Whatever the gift was, it was given with love. The person giving it is likely to have been pleased with their purchase, so you need to consider their feelings. If you don’t know them too well, maybe they’re a work colleague or the spouse of a distant family member, you may want to avoid telling them.

For closer family members and friends, a bit of honesty can go a long way. Not only will this mean they know your preference for next time, you also have a chance to see if they have the receipt or ask where they got it from.

Refunds And Credit 

If you can get hold of the receipt or you know that the shop the gift was bought from has a more relaxed returns policy, then the best thing to do is attempt to take it back. If the issue is just with the size, then you can always exchange it for one that fits better.

Sadly, not all companies will be open to offering refunds. It is your right to a refund if the product is faulty. If you are returning an item for no other reason apart from the fact that you don’t like it, the shop may have no obligation to accept your return.

However, most places will have a goodwill policy in the period after Christmas and those that don’t offer money back should give store credit, which is still better than something you are never going to use.

Re-gifting 

Re-gifting may be frowned upon by some people, but it’s much better that someone gets to enjoy the gift than it sitting in a drawer for the foreseeable future. If you know someone who would love that jumper you didn’t really want or you know someone with a child that would love the unwanted toy your child was bought, then there is no harm in passing the parcel. Again, it is a good idea to be honest with whoever gave you the gift in case they also know the person you are re-gifting it to.

Selling Online 

Ebay has been a massive success since it was founded in 1995 and this site acts as a great platform for you to sell your unwanted presents. The fees for selling are scaled according to how much the gift costs, and it offers you the chance to give your gift to people who are actively searching it out.

Ebay is not the only site that’s available though. There are specialist websites all over the internet for various types of gifts. Got a new mobile that you don’t need or want or you want to get rid of your old one, try sellmymobile.com. Got some clothes that don’t fit or aren’t in your style, try recycleyourfashions.com. For everything else, there’s always Gumtree.

Charity 

All this talk of unwanted gifts can make some of us feel a little spoilt and so if you really want your redundant gifts to make a difference, you could always drop them off at your local charity shop. Alternatively, you could give any unwanted toys to a children’s hospital or day care centre in your area.

If you want to avoid the embarrassment of giving an unwanted gift, then why not consider gift baskets for the next big occasion in your family. Gift hampers always go down well and can be filled with plenty of goodies, so the recipient is at least likely to enjoy one of them.

photo credit: MRHSfan

Social Media for Social Good 4th in Series: Using LinkedIn Effectively

by Keith McMean

LinkedIn is probably the biggest network for organization professionals to meet and connect on the internet. It’s a bit like Facebook for ‘grown ups’.  Connections are usually based on occupations and interests of the people on the platform. LinkedIn is a great place if you are looking for a new job or you want some professional advice as there is always someone there who can help. It’s also a fantastic place where business owners and managers can improve their business in lots of new and exciting ways.

linkedin(1)Now, I know that some of you out there are wondering how you can improve your organization growth on LinkedIn. Well first off there is a big difference between being a corporate type business on LinkedIn and a small business. Large corporations typically use LinkedIn to headhunt the top people in their sector. Human resource departments use the platform, and other means of finding candidates such as job sites and newspaper publications, to find suitable candidates, I know this because I have helped large corporations to do this.

Small business owners tend to use LinkedIn in a totally different way, it’s typically to find new clients, business partners, employees and to gain different aspects and insights in to their existing business. One of the fantastic things that is happening right now is organizations are being sold on LinkedIn, a great new innovation.

We all know that a successful business depends on networking to grow and one of the biggest innovations over the past ten years or so is the birth of these social networking platforms in helping to assist greatly in business development. One of the great things I love about social networking platforms is the interaction between members and how this can really propel a organization to the top in a very short space of time.

With is membership growing daily it’s not to be discounted for the small business owner, in fact its to be actively encouraged as the ‘go to’ platform but if you are just starting out here are my killer tips on how to succeed:

  1. Use LinkedIn to attract and hire the best people. Posting jobs on LinkedIn is really easy and don’t forget that all candidates profiles, most people still write their profiles like a CV but that’s another story, are conveniently stored so you can look through their skill sets and connections at your leisure. Don’t forget that someone who you might want to hire may have some really great connections you can leverage at a later date.
  2. So why would you go anywhere else if you have a problem with your organization? Just about every solution is there if you just ‘dig a little’. Use the Answers and groups as a starting point. So say you were looking to set up a new division in an area outside your current one, where better to find out locations, hiring staff in fact everything you could think of will be on LinkedIn, you just have to look and ask.
  3. So keeping to the ‘moving’ theme what if you want to acquire some new customers and clients in your new area? Well wouldn’t it make sense to ask for recommendations from you existing happy clients or customers? These are gold when you consider that millions of users can potentially view your profile and having some really great recommendations on there will really help.
  4. So what if you are looking to outsource some of your work you would want to find the right partner. So let’s say you sell food or sports supplements and you are looking for a gym to send your clients who are using them but haven’t found a great place to work out yet? Potentially this could be in any part of the world if you sell your supplements nationally or internationally. Let’s face it if you know nothing about how a gym works what better way than to find someone who can complement your existing business. Before long they will be recommending you and vice a versa.
  5. So what if you are looking for a new supplier? We all know that suppliers and vendors, good ones I mean, are hard to come by. LinkedIn is a great starting place to find new ones and can be used to foster competition among bidders and get the best deals, leading to lower costs for the business.
  6. What about partnering with allied businesses? Let’s say you have a limousine hire company doesn’t if follow that people who hire expensive limousines also like other expensive items like holidays, houses or watches, you get the picture. Using LinkedIn to form partnerships or connections will help gain new clients who can then get great deals, it’s a win-win for all parties.
  7. Visibility is key and if you need to create a business page then go ahead. Company page can offer some great public information where LinkedIn members can search and ‘follow’ companies and brands that they really like and engage with. This will also give you a means to share quality content on what happening in the business.
  8. Keep up with current trends, now I am not saying that you spend every waking moment on LinkedIn but we all know that knowledge is power. Well what you do with knowledge is the real power.  Keeping informed with the latest trends will allow you to be quick to respond to the needs of the consumers. LinkedIn has a section containing the latest news in the business world so use it!
  9. Join your industry associations or group on LinkedIn or start a new one. This has always been a ‘biggy’ for me as being a member of a recognised association builds up credibility in the minds of business partners or customers.  Starting a group is a really easy thing to do and will also present you as a leader in your area.
  10. Connect all you social platforms together in one place so that people and potential clients etc. can find you easily. This also helps to create a buzz about your business.
  11. I know that businesses use LinkedIn and other social media networks to find out what competitors are up to and with whom. I don’t get too paranoid about people watching me, I think of it as a compliment and help where I can.
  12. Use LinkedIn to find potential investors in your business. Be active on your industry forums and groups, present an outline of your business plan and see if there is someone willing to invest money and participate in your business operations. Also, if some business activity is too big for you to perform by yourself, look for someone with similar problem so you can join forces. For example, if you’re an importer of goods from the US you should import the whole container of products so you can keep your costs per unit down. But the whole container might be too much for your market share, so the best way is to find someone to join up with. Both partners would import only the half of the container while keeping all the advantages of economy of scale. A no brainer really.
  13. Using LinkedIn’s ‘Answers’ can really boost your credibility as you can answer people questions and again become a leader in your area. Becoming an expert can be really quick and easy. Now again I am not advocating spending every waking moment on this but having a ‘look see’ every now and again will really help in the credibility stakes. Don’t forget that members who are impressed by the quality of your answers may end up becoming clients. You could expect lots of inquires about your services and turning those answer seekers into new clients and it’s much easier than cold calling.
  14. One of the great things I found out about LinkedIn really early on was that it’s a fantastic SEO (search engine optimisation) tool. I can say that most of the time, when a LinkedIn profile for your business is up and running correctly, it is shown at the very top of a search. Having a LinkedIn profile helps your company be more visible on Google and search sites.
  15. If you are running an event, and I do all the time, LinkedIn is a great place to promote an event. It’s a very effective way of getting attendees. Once a member chooses to attend, that RSVP will be shown on his home profile, making it visible to all his connections. It’s fantastic word of mouth advertising.
  16. Don’t be shy because LinkedIn has a lot of built-in apps which can be utilised to promote and sell your services. Use the SlideShare app to upload a presentation about your business and the services you offer. Have a good dig about on LinkedIn because there are some really cool things going on that will really boos your business.
  17. I would urge you to join groups and seek out customers. Groups comprise members who share the same interests. Sign up for those that reflect the profile of your target market and interact with them. Do not hard sell but rather build your reputation with them at a steady pace that suits both parties. Making comments in the group will allow you to form connections with the subscribers of that group and build strong connections.

Because LinkedIn is a business network, it is made up of professional people seeking to make new and meaningful connections. By leveraging the power of LinkedIn, organizations will be able to achieve significant growth in their business.

  1. Finally build a killer profile that will really help propel you and your organization. I have said this before on earlier posts but it bares saying again that adding a profile picture is the single most important thing you can do. There is nothing worse than looking at a profile and trying to figure out if it’s the right person you want to connect with or not.

So that’s some of my killer tips for LinkedIn I hope you use some or all of them to boost your business and I hope you leave a comment on how you are using LinkedIn and other social networking platforms. Till next time…

Social Media for Social Good 3rd in Series: Creating a Social Media Marketing Plan

by Keith McMean

So you have taken the plunge and jumped on the social media bandwagon, and now you are creating social media marketing plan. Well, guess what? I have taken ALL the hard work out of it for you. I have assembled an easy step by step guide to creating a social media marketing plan that anyone can put to work right now. Whether it’s in your free time, or you want to make this into a full time job, I want you to know that following these steps really works.

Social Media 1Step One: Who do you need to find your site? Spend a while researching this as it really reaps rewards. Start broad, and then get precise but try and keep it simple also. This should make finding you really easy.
Think about when somebody is doing a search, what actual solutions or services will your site provide? Do you fill a ‘real’ need for people out there and make sure you are not just wasting theirs or your time.

Step Two: Let’s say you provide printer consumables, don’t go after “printer” or “printer cartridges.” Again think about what makes you better? Are you the “cheapest printer consumables” or maybe you’re the “best yet cheapest printer consumables company.” Keyword placement on search engines is far more advantageous than you would ever imagine.

Step Three: Make a few different types of posts or updates that you can send out, just like I have here that give out great content. Once you have some under your belt, start going to sites like Ning.com, Hubpages, Zimbio, StumbleUpon and similar sites. Create real accounts in YOUR name and submit them. Also don’t forget the importance of having an email ‘opt in’ box on your website to something like Mailchimp.com this builds up your list too.

Step Four: To help your Social Media Marketing Plan strategies don’t forget to “Get Friendly.”
You target audience want to give you their money, but guess what? Yes everyone hates a salesmen, not all salesmen I hasten to add :) People can usually smell one a mile away, people know they have money to spend, and they know you want it. Get to know them before attempting to take their money.
Better to introduce yourself as you, not as your product or business! Again get to know them, you can even talk about the industry sector you are in. Don’t steam in talking about you, your product or service, you will be surprised how this can really work for you.

Step Five: If one of the big multinational chains is selling something for less than normal price they don’t call it ‘the cheap choice’ or the ‘we’re giving this away for nothing’ choice…not sir it’s a ‘value meal’. Get the picture?
I know it’s off on a bit of tangent, but actually, and importantly, you are developing a relationship with your potential clients. You’re searching for the ideal shoppers, and you’re attempting to find the ones that may be with you for a lifetime.

Step Six: Even if you only had five clients, but they were consistent buyers, and they never complained about price etc., trust me, it would be better than a 100 purchasers that never are happy.

Step Seven: In your Social Media Marketing Plan remember, and it’s really important to be consistent with your updates, this is key, as is quality content.

In summary: You have done all the hard works so don’t let it slip remember, and I have said this a lot, people do business with people and NOT multinationals, even they are now getting it and using real people within their organisations. Think of it this way when you go to the checkout at your local supermarket or corner shop, 9 times out of 10 you talk to the person behind the counter, it’s a natural connection. I also find it a little strange when going through the ‘automated’ checkouts as its less ‘personal’.

I think the essence of any good plan is that it’s not really a plan at all, all you are really doing is getting to know the people you are doing business with in a much more beneficial way to both of you. This really helps when people are handing you their hard earned cash ;)

Until next time…remember “Do something special today”

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