I recently interviewed James White, a lifelong “conscious capitalist,” even before that term was invented.
For decades, he has been on the forefront of focusing on the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, and profits. And because I am a writer and editor involved with the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Conscious Capitalism movement, I have started blogging for the group.
Yes, I have worked with and for nonprofits since childhood, because they focus on social change and making the world a better place for all.
But in the past few decades we have seen the phenomenal growth of for-profit entities that also seek the Triple Bottom Line: social mission businesses, social enterprises, green businesses, purpose-driven business, etc. In fact, I just attended Sustainatopia, a large international conference along those same lines.
I am thrilled to see the vast shift in today’s businesses world, as it adapts to the demands of people like you and me. We’re insisting on doing business as UNusual — that is, for the benefit of humanity and the environment. No longer is the nonprofit world the only place to participate in this work.
My first blog post for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Conscious Capitalism movement is a good place to begin to explore this world.
The article starts out like this: Continue reading
(Creative Commons photo license)
Q: What’s the danger in misusing hyperbole?
A: While we all like to think that our work is unique, essential, and groundbreaking, that can’t always be the case. (I think of the phrase from A Prairie Home Companion, “where the children are all above average.”)
It behooves you as a socially responsible changemaker to get your facts straight and do your research; exaggeration has no place in your writing. You certainly don’t want your readers to doubt your integrity or knowledge of your field if they learn you’re not telling the whole truth.
Of course, If extensive research tells you that you are the only/best/least expensive/most effective/largest (etc.) organization doing your work in the way you are doing it, by all means tell the world about it. Just stay away from claims that seem too good to be true (what a turn-off!).
In all other cases, take the time to qualify your statements. Temper the temptation to go overboard. Look for the unique part of what you do and focus on that distinction — in an honest and clear way. For example, maybe you’re the only one in your geographic area making a specific community change. Perhaps you specialize in a particular population within your larger field. If you are contributing a major piece of the puzzle in your field, but your partners also form part of the solution, take them into account and share the credit.
Keep it real and always be mindful of your credibility.
I, like many people, do my share of year-end giving to my favorite nonprofits in December. Of course, December and January are usually super-busy times of year for folks who process all of those donations!
I was pleased to receive some very grateful and thoughtful thank you notes from the organizations I supported. I wanted to share one specific letter that stood out. It comes from my local food bank, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, to be exact. You can see a copy of it below:
It starts out expressing gratitude and welcoming me to their community, and goes on to briefly explain what my contribution will do.
Notice that it has a large photo of a child in the upper-right corner and the letter talks a bit about her, a representative of their clients.
This one-pager is short, simple, sweet, and to the point. It also lists the tax ID number at the bottom, as well as the address and affiliations.
That’s all pretty standard best practice.
The most interesting part was the PS and the insert that came with it. Continue reading
I wish I could go to the UN Climate Summit in Paris, but I have to watch from the sidelines here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A full 196 signatories (195 states and the European Union) are set to negotiate a treaty to limit global warming and deal with climate change’s effects worldwide (as of 2020). This meeting is supposed to be the big one: the one that will turn the tide toward a real global agreement. Emissions targets, climate change adaptations, financial pledges, etc. will all figure into the document.
Throngs of activists from all around the world are also chiming in.
Will it all be effective? It had better be. But that remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, some great press coverage is coming out of The Guardian (UK) and Democracy Now!, to name a few sources. I am also part of the Paris Rapid Response team at 350.org (an easy way to plug into the action).
And since our focus is on writing and the power of language, I have to share this article from The Guardian on the competing metaphors used by heads of state in their speeches to open the conference. The phrases included: Continue reading
Every year at this time I do a special reflection on the abundance of things in my life I am grateful for.
The list is long, and spans from the physical (health, food) to the social (family, friends, colleagues), to the mental, emotional, spiritual, and entrepreneurial. The people I get to work with every day — talented changemakers in a wide variety of fields, professions, and specialties — round out the list.
I also have been thinking about the refugee crisis our world is facing at this moment in history. The bottom line seems to be that we are all part of a human family; if we can’t accept refugees and migrants fleeing from hardship, what have we become?
I come from immigrant stock myself (my father is a Persian Jew and my mother’s parents come from Jewish communities in Eastern Europe). I am eternally grateful that we are safe, supported, and able to pursue our dreams in this country. (Unfortunately, that cannot be said for all of my country men and women but it is true for many.) Continue reading