The year I was born, a really, really smart economist wrote an article called The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. The title gives away the punch line. It became the rallying cry for American business. He wrote in part, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game . . ..”
One year after I was born, a really, really smart author wrote The Lorax. This was my go-to bedtime story. On the final page of the book, the antagonist, the Once-ler, pleads to a boy that “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, its’ not.” This message has always stuck with me and it inspired the name of my next venture, Unless.
I’ve always had a passion for causes. My interest in business came much later in life. In 2000, while working at America Online, I saw them converge for the first time. The Helping Hands Initiative leveraged the AOL shopping platform to raise millions of dollars for charity by partnering with celebrities. Today, this happens regularly. Back then, it was unique.
A few years later, I got the chance to help implement a corporate giving campaign at Advanta. The KivaB4B program encouraged small business credit card holders to support entrepreneurs around the world by offering a match. This campaign was amazing because it wove together the story of Advanta’s founder and Kiva’s mission – providing access to capital for a group without options. For Advanta, it was school teachers. For Kiva, it was entrepreneurs in third world countries.
At Simon’s Heart, I was privileged to implement AED Madness with Philadelphia Division I basketball programs, the Art of the Cap with Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer and Speedo, and my favorite, the Overtime Challenge with the Philadelphia Flyers. Our mission at Simon’s Heart is preventing sudden death. Hockey has a sudden death overtime time period. This common thread gave us a platform to educate fans, donate AED devices to protect children, and create an opportunity for the Flyers to bond with the community in a deep and meaningful way.
I believe these authentic connections can be found between countless companies and causes. I also believe that Milton Friedman’s article was misconstrued. Data shows that corporations can do well by doing good. In fact, embracing causes inspires customers, attracts employees and retains talent. By investing in their communities, companies are using their “resources and engag[ing] in activities designed to increase its profits.” At Unless, we are focusing entirely on cause marketing and strategic philanthropy.
If you know someone I should speak with, I’d love (and be so grateful for) an introduction. I’m interested in talking to companies that believe in the power of marketing, and people who are running foundations or increasing their philanthropic activities. I’m also looking to support agencies that provide marketing, PR or advertising services. If they do not have a cause marketing specialist, we can assist with that part of the pitch.
I’m excited to get this business off the ground. I’m equally excited to watch Simon’s Heart soar under a new Executive Director. Thank you for your support with both of these endeavors.