Our Blog Has Moved!

As part of our name change from Servant Christian Community Foundation to National Christian Foundation Heartland, we’ve moved the blog to a new location. To read the latest posts and catch news from the generosity movement, visit:

www.nationalchristian.com/heartland

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Could Charity Marketing Programs Actually Hurt Donations?

We’ve all seen the Red Campaign to raise awareness and dollars for the fight against AIDS in Africa by giving a small portion of the profits of from sales of certain products (coffee, yogurt, t-shirts) to charity.  (An example is below).  But have you ever wondered if all that buying of cause-related products hurts donations to charities? The answer is yes, according to a study from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“If two consumers have equal preference for a product, which is offered at the same price to both, but one of them buys this product as a cause-marketing product, her charitable giving will be lower than the other’s,” Ms. Krishna writes.

It was a reminder to me to see my purchase of Newmans’ Own products (the profits of which are donated to charity) as simply another purchase, rather than as a charitable gift.  It’s also prompting me to ask myself what are the unintended consequences of other innovative fundraising initiatives?

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Giving on the Web: Equal Opportunities With Social Media

Yesterday, I read a story recounting how George Bowers Grocery in Staunton, Virginia, outdoes its large competitor by maximizing social media’s ability to connect with customers (cheaply). In particular, the small specialty grocery store uses their Facebook page to quickly and regular inform their community of free events, new products and information. They estimate that 75% of their customers interact with them there.

In contrast, the local Kroger store – part of a massive chain – outspends them considerably in print and television advertising. But it’s unable to create the sense of community and personality that the smaller competitor can. It’s national fan page has far more fans, but considerably less per store.

 

Facebook: How a Tiny Grocer Outflanks Kroger

In the nonprofit context, the marketing message is clear: small charities have greater leverage through social media. They may not be able to afford the mass-marketing campaigns that their larger partners can, but they can’t afford to overlook the power that a social style engagement strategy can have. Utilizing sites such as Facebook and Twitter are free, and they’re inherently designed to allow your supporters to engage with you.

Giving on the Web: “Stop Talking About Yourself”

Dan Zarrella, the “social media scientist”, published this interesting post showing that people are much more interested in following you online when you talk as yourself rather than talking about yourself. He demonstrates that the more an organization refers to itself in its online content, the fewer followers it tends to have. Read his entire post: http://danzarrella.com/stop-talking-about-yourself-start-talking-as-yourself.html

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Giving Half Your Income

Individuals are able to deduct up to 50% of their income, giving that much is a challenge for most. This mathmatics professor at Northern Virginia Community College works two additional jobs so he has enough to do just that.

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When The Whole World Is Focused on Philanthropy

“Philanthropy” has made the news several times in the last few months, and this week adds to that in a star-studded way. Several events, most of them kicking off today, are bringing in the “Who’s Who” of social change:

The Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting: This conference is bringing together dozens of world leaders and celebrities, such as Laura Bush, Ehud Barak, Lance Armstrong, Tom Brokaw, the Gates, and the Obamas. This group of “changemakers” will gather to bring attention to topics like rebuilding Haiti and creating “market-based” solutions to healthcare and poverty.

The UN Millennium Goals Summit: When the 192 member states of the United Nations agreed to achieve  the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) by 2015, they knew the task would be daunting. Five years from the target, the UN is calling on all world leaders to come together to accelerate the work on these goals. USA Today reports that “President Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are among the leaders who will put forth rival plans to get the Millennium Developments Goals back on track.”

The Social Good Summit: Mashable and 92Y have partnered with the United Nations Foundation to discuss the Millennium Development Goals with a broader audience. Specifically, this event (one of the only public events surrounding the UN Summit) will seek to create solutions to the world’s ongoing problems utilizing social media and other innovative technologies.

TEDxChange: The Gates Foundation and TED joined forces to host a “global event” via the web today, presenting a variety of talks by “thinkers and doers” in TED’s typical short-form style presentations. TED broke from its normal course to create a live stream of the day.

What am I to do with this? It’s easy to feel insignificant when you have such big names and entire governments throwing their weight at these problems. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Rejoice that God’s grace is working through those who do not know Him to tackle such problems as poverty, disease and inequality.
  • Remember that the world’s problems cannot be solved without the Gospel. Apart from new life, the root to the problems that plague this world cannot be finally addressed.
  • Learn all you can. Concepts which began in secular philanthropy (like micro-finance and the market-based approach) are being used effectively in missions around the world (such as business-as-missions).
  • Give strategically. Gates and Buffet may make the headlines, but 75% of giving in the U.S. is done by individuals like you! This dwarves the 12% given by these big foundations. Your dollars, big or small, are able to achieve great good when used wisely in the Kingdom.
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Thoughts on Global Leadership Summit: TOMS

I’ve been at the Global Leadership Summit this week, and it’s been extremely challenging. Of particular note was an interview of Blake Mycoskie. Blake founded the shoe company TOMS with the goal to give away one pair of shoes for every pair purchased – what the company calls “One for One”. Since its founding in 2006, over 680,000 pairs of shoes given away to children in the third world.

What’s amazing about their model is the passion of their customers. People purchasing TOMS shoes are making a real, measurable difference by buying their product. Some statements that popped out of the interview to me:

  • Giving feels amazing.
  • Whatever you’re doing, in your business or personal life, incorporate giving.
  • Giving not only feels good, it’s also a good business strategy.
  • Incorporating giving and service into your culture has a transformative effect.
  • If you want to create change, you have to ask people to join you. You can’t be bashful if you want to make change.
  • It’s never too early to start serving and start giving. It was very tempting to wait until his company became profitable to begin giving, but he would’ve missed out on blessing. Or to wait until he was personally successful to start making change, but he would miss years of giving.
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