Nonprofit Spotlight: Autism Society of Minnesota

We love our nonprofit partners at DoTopia. After all, they are the reason we are here in the first place! This month, we are so excited to introduce you to the Autism Society of Minnesota. April is National Autism Awareness Month, so it is very fitting to be highlighting this amazing organization. Read on to learn more about the incredible work AuSM does and join us in supporting their mission.

How did this organization get formed and what does it stand for?

The Autism Society of Minnesota is Minnesota’s First Autism Resource ™

In 1971, a group of passionate parents founded AuSM to seek greater understanding and better school supports for their children with autism. More than four decades later, AuSM continues its mission to improve the lives of people with autism, but with an expanded focus along the entire lifespan, from birth through retirement.

Whether you are the parent of a child with a new diagnosis, an adult with autism who needs guidance, an educator or healthcare professional who supports people with autism, or a company that wants to learn more about the talents of people with autism, AuSM offers the resources you need to help you accomplish your goals.

AuSM is a place where everyone can learn, access services, and develop skills for navigating what can be challenging emotions and complex information. Services include membership, workshops, the Minnesota autism conference, AuSM Skillshops, the Life with Autism Series for newly diagnosed and specific life stages, specially tailored summer camps for youth and adults with autism, interest-based social skills classes with community partners, Counseling and Consulting Services, support groups, Autism Direct Support Certification training, sensory-friendly events, advocacy, Information and Resources, and customized autism training.

As the autism diagnosis rate increases, so, too, does the need for programs and services to help people with autism thrive. As the state’s oldest nonprofit autism organization, AuSM relies on the generosity of our community to carry out our important mission. 100% of donated dollars stay local, benefitting Minnesota families and individuals touched by autism.

Where has your organization made the most impact?

AuSM is an organization that serves the needs of the local autism community by providing services and programs that enhance the lives of individuals, helping them to grow and thrive. AuSM takes pride in being responsive to our community, filling gaps in services through thoughtful program planning and through trainings to businesses and organizations throughout the state.

What are your organizations top initiatives in 2018?

AuSM’s initiatives align with their mission of enhancing the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder through education support, collaboration, and advocacy.

Initiatives include:

  • Being Minnesota’s first autism resource with  free Information and Resources hotline
  • Having a voice at the Capitol through advocacyffering educational opportunities through our state autism conference, workshops, AuSM Skillshops
  • Helping youth and adults grow through summer camps, social skills classes, and inclusive community events
  • Raising awareness and appreciation through resource fairs and business and organization trainings
  • Serving as support for individuals, families, and caregivers through their AuSM Counseling and Consulting Services program and free support groups
  • Continuing to listen to their community and understanding needs

How can one get involved and support your mission?

AuSM has many ways for our community to get involved with theirprograms and services. If you would like to donate your time to the Autism Society of Minnesota, they have a variety of ways you can help. Many of AuSM’s volunteer opportunities surround awareness and fundraising events including Steps of Hope, our annual state conference, the AuSM Gala, the AuSM Golf Classic, and more. Information about volunteering can be found on our website, www.ausm.org.

AuSM also encourages our community to consider donating dollars in support of AuSM’s mission. Their supporters sustain the work that has helped so many in the Minnesota autism community. AuSM’s drive for continuing this work is strong as they constantly look for ways to serve you even better. 100% of donations stay in the Minnesota autism community, and every dollar counts. Donations can be made through DoTopia’s website by searching “Autism Society of Minnesota”.

23rd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference

During the 23rd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference held April 25-28, 2018 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Minneapolis,, we will join our voices as a passionate community to inspire learning, hope, and innovation. Experts, parents, caregivers, educators, paraprofessionals, mental health professionals, service providers, and individuals on the spectrum will have a platform to connect, collaborate, advocate, and educate. The conference will feature four keynote speakers, Frank Campagna “Autism Daddy”; Jed Baker, PhD; Stephen Shore, PhD; and Leah Kuypers MA Ed, OTR/L; as well as 35 breakout sessions focused on a wide variety of topics important to their community, exhibitors offering products and services, and the AuSM Bookstore.

This year’s conference will begin with an exciting family celebration featuring Julia, the newest Sesame Street Muppet, a character who was created to increase awareness and understanding of autism. During Julia’s AuSM Autism Celebration, meet walkaround Julia, visit resource tables, participate in sensory activities, and play games during this age and ability inclusive event.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.ausm.org.

 

We are proud to call the Autism Society of Minnesota a DoTopia charity partner and are grateful for the work they do.

DoTopia makes it easy to give to AuSM as well as millions of other charities of your choice on our platform.

Sign up for a Personal Giving Account today.

Charity Resources

Charity Spotlight: Corral Riding

DoTopia was created to support and empower organizations everywhere to make the world a better place. By utilizing DoDollars, our DoTopians give to the 501(c)(3) organizations they are passionate about (have we mentioned there are over 1.6 million to choose from?) to grow and thrive. We are thrilled to highlight an organization, CORRAL, who has received funds via DoDollars. We love hearing stories from our charity partners. After all, it is the reason we do what we do.

CORRAL is a Christian non-profit where girls in high risk situations experience healing and transformational life change with rescued horses and a loving community. Our girls receive academic intervention, college and career preparation, vocational and life skills training, mentorship, and mental health services while working with horses. The girls we serve all have their own story but a majority have dealt with some type of trauma, abuse, or neglect at some point in their young lives. CORRAL’s goal is to give our girls a “leg up in life” and we have seen some amazing changes in the young women serve.

The gift from DoTopia will partially sponsor a girl during her time in our program. Support from partners like DoTopia make a huge impact in in the lives of girls like Lexi. When Lexi came to CORRAL she carried a lot of anger and distrust in people. This anger and distrust was born from ongoing abuse from someone very close to her. When Lexi came to CORRAL she had given up on school, given up on other people, and given up on herself. Now that she’s been in the program over a year we’ve seen Lexi heal, grow, and learn in unimaginable and amazing ways! Our horses taught Lexi about how to be a patient and confident leader. Our academic interventions helped Lexi raise her grades and now she has all As and Bs! CORRAL helped Lexi remember how to dream and now she plans to attend college and hopes to become a therapist so she can help other girls just like her!


Amazing, right? Stories like these inspire us to keep spreading the Joy of Giving. Thank you, CORRAL for sharing this inspiring story. We can’t wait to see all of the incredible work you continue to accomplish.

Charity partners, empower your organization today by urging your contributors to give through DoTopia. We do all of the heavy lifting for you so you can focus on what matters most: making an impact.

Giving with DoTopia is easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Sign up for your own personal giving account.
  2. Search and select the charitable organization of your choice to give.
  3. Choose the amount and donate.

That’s it! A personal giving account enables your patrons to:

  • Give anywhere at anytime
  • Track their DoDollar purchases and giving history for planning, tracking and tax purposes
  • Gift DoDollars to family, friends and colleagues to spread the giving movement.

Want to partner with us? We’d love to hear from you!

Adopt A Classroom

Charity Spotlight: AdoptAClassroom.org

We can almost hear the bell in the distance as students across the country head back to school. Though most teachers appreciate time off during their summer breaks, more frequently than not, educators spend a lot of their “time off” planning for the year ahead by preparing their classrooms and buying school supplies for eager young learners (if only all students shared this sentiment…).

Regardless of political affiliation, most would agree that teachers should make more money. Behavior issues, family problems, and diverse learning styles require teachers to wear many hats without a salary to match. If you do not know an educator, we would encourage you to spend some time in a classroom volunteering. You will quickly learn this profession is not for the faint of heart, but rather for genuinely good people who have dedicated their lives to giving (both financially and emotionally).

We had an opportunity to connect with one of our charity partners, AdoptAClassroom.org, who works to fund teachers so they are able to purchase the classroom supplies and materials needed to create a dynamic environment where children can learn and succeed. It is clear to us why their organization is needed, but here are some numbers to prove it:

  • Declining education budgets and the fact that over half (51%) of America’s children in public schools live in poverty means teachers are filling the gap by buying classroom supplies out of their own pocket.
  • 91% of teachers purchase basic school supplies for their students when families are unable to afford them.
  • Two-thirds of all classroom supplies are purchased by teachers out of their own pockets.
  • On average, teachers spend $600 of their own money every year on supplies for their classroom. Nearly 20% of teachers spend more than $1000 annually.

Inadequate classroom resources threaten the success of our schools. Research indicates the use of hands-on learning materials in the classroom has a direct and positive impact on student achievement and future success in school and in life.

Why They Matter

AdoptAClassroom.org’s short YouTube video, Why We Matter, provides an excellent overview of how much this program impacts teachers within our education system. Nine-time Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, who’s a former teacher herself, shares her reasoning for supporting the mission of the organization.

One of the things we love the most about AdoptAClassroom.org is that when a teacher is adopted online by an individual donor, the teacher receives 100% of the funds. Additionally, companies including Great Clips, Lane Bryant, HBO, Office Depot, Farmers Insurance, and Burlington work to fund these classroom programs as well as the AdoptAClassroom.org organization to ensure our teachers continue to be supported. It is an extremely sustainable model. Quality education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals that touch people globally. Whether you currently know a teacher or not, at one point in your life, you have received some education and come into contact with an educator.

The Impact is Real

Since 1998, AdoptAClassroom.org has raised more than $30 million to help teachers purchase school supplies for more than 4.25 million students in low-income, high-need schools. To date, a quarter of a million K-12 teachers, representing 30 percent of all schools in the U.S., have registered with AdoptAClassroom.org.

To learn more, visit AdoptAClassroom.org, or call them directly at 877-444-7666. You can also learn more about them on Facebook at facebook.com/adoptaclassroom or by following @Adopt_Classroom on Twitter.

To donate to AdoptAClassroom.org, create your own Personal Giving Account with DoTopia and start giving today.

Desai Foundation Women

Charity Spotlight: Desai Foundation

This week, we are honored to showcase the Desai Foundation which was founded in 1997 with the aim of empowering women and children in India and the U.S. through community development to elevate their health and livelihood. The foundation was established as a family foundation but after several years of gaining insights about the needs of the communities they served, the Desai family made the decision to become a public nonprofit to be able to reach more people through their work. This decision was made in order for the foundation to design programs in collaboration with the individuals in the 55 communities the Desai Foundation serves and to be able to expand effective programs and practices to new regions. Over the course of 20 years, the Desai Foundation’s work has touched the lives of more than 330,000 people and will continue to enhance the wellbeing of many more in the years to come. The foundation’s focus is community-led efforts which build dignity throughout communities, enabling individuals to dream beyond their circumstances.

Learn more about the Desai Foundation by watching this video.  

Asani (by Women, for Women) – advancing Menstrual Hygiene Management in India

The Desai Foundation recognizes that one of the dominant obstacles for women and girls, preventing them from achieving their potential, is a lack of awareness about menstrual health and hygiene including the cultural shame associated with this process. Did you know that in India, 71% of girls report having no knowledge of menstruation before their first period? The Desai Foundation’s Asani Sanitary Napkin program, made by women for women, is systematically changing this for the women in the villages they serve. By bringing women and girls from all ages together in conversation with community and health leaders, they are opening the doors to cross generational and cross-gender dialogue about menstruation, eliminating questions and fear about the process. The Asani brand employs women to produce and sell a quality, affordable product which they feel ownership of, generating safe and stable employment opportunities for women across the region. Asani is creating a future where entering womanhood does not result in a loss of dignity, a keen focus of the Desai Foundation. The program’s menstrual hygiene access and education, enables young women in India to develop their own dreams, stay in school, and continue to do what they always do; help to nourish their communities.

Making the to woman for woman product.

Recent Partnership with Payal Singhal, Indian based Fashion Designer

The Desai Foundation is building dignity and opportunity through their latest partnership with Indian based global fashion designer Payal Singhal. Payal has been a dear friend to the Desai Foundation for many years and is devoted to improving the lives of women on and off the runway. Though ethical fashion is on the rise around the world, the notion of working with rural women to produce high-fashion products and contributing a percentage of sales back into those communities for vocational training programs is effectively unheard of in India. Payal Singhal and the Desai Foundation are now leading this movement by example.

Both Payal Singhal and the Desai Foundation believe that women are the backbone of society and healthy women lead to healthy communities. For this reason, generating economic opportunity and leadership roles for women are at the core of this partnership. By employing women to produce several of the pieces of the collection (available both in India and the US) and reinvesting a percentage of the proceeds generated back into community vocational training, this partnership is enabling the women they work with in Gujarat (India) to develop dreams that reach far beyond their rural villages and cultivate skills, sustainable income, and a community-wide sense of dignity leading to long-lasting health and wellness.

The exclusive line of Payal Singhal x Desai Foundation ready-to-wear, children’s wear, menswear accessories, stationery, Indian eveningwear, and bags, supports the Desai Foundation’s vocational training programs for women in rural India and is available just in time for the holiday season.  This is a great way to make a global impact while purchasing a beautiful gift. Join the Desai Foundation’s mission by shopping for a cause this season and help to give rise to these women’s voices. The women at DoTopia have already scoped out our purchases, but there are some fun pieces for men in there too! You can shop the collection here and read more about the collaboration in Forbes.  

Desai Foundation Relationship with Fashion Designer

The Desai Foundation by the numbers

Before donating to any organization, many donors question the reach and sustainable impact of nonprofits. The Desai Foundation does not lack in numbers. In fact, just to share a few impressive stats:

  1. 331,000 people have been impacted by their programs
  2. 50,000 villagers have received treatments, many of whom had never received medical attention before
  3. 10,000 people have attended health seminars and camps
  4. Their Science & Math secondary school is ranked #1 in the region
  5. 200 women have received vocational training  

We are proud to call the Desai Foundation a DoTopia charity partner and are grateful for the work they do to empower our young women and children in both India and the U.S.

Where are you giving on #GivingTuesday this year? DoTopia makes it easy to give to Desai Foundation as well as millions of other charities of your choice on our platform.

Sign up for a Personal Giving Account today.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation

For this week’s Nonprofit Spotlight, we are thrilled to introduce the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation.

The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARFP) was founded by Dr. Dharma S. Khalsa in 1993. Dr. Khalsa became the first physician to advocate a lifestyle approach to the prevention and treatment of memory loss. He is among the world’s leading authorities on integrative medicine, and has written extensively on a wide range of health and healing issues.

For the past 25 years, ARPF has funded integrative and holistic medicine research around the globe. Currently, ARPF supports several ongoing studies, one of them being the renowned FINGER study. This is the largest and longest ongoing lifestyle intervention trial in the world.

ARPF also provides educational training, outreach and memory screenings. This includes information on the 4 Pillars of Alzheimer’s Prevention, Kirtan Kriya yoga meditation classes, and their newest program: Brain Longevity Therapy Training. This course trains healthcare professionals who work with at-risk older adults. It helps people of all ages and backgrounds improve their brain function through this certified training. The course is necessary because soon there will be 6 million Americans with Alzheimer’s– unless something is done now. ARPF wants to share their research and clinical results on preventing dementia, so that others can bring these tools to their communities and become part of the movement to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss and cognitive disability.

Here is a first hand story of the work the ARFP does

The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) has provided free memory screenings for the past 25 years in an effort to recognize the early signs of cognitive decline. Del of Tucson, Arizona completed her screening and has written the following about the experience:

“I have actually known about Memory Screening Day for several years and even volunteered one year.  But this year my husband and I decided to come and do it ourselves to have a baseline done. We forget things now and again and we thought it would be good to have a baseline of our memory health.

When we arrived at the Jewish Community Center, we were very pleased to note all of the vendor tables with information for seniors which gave us some very good information, especially the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation’s table.  I also felt it was a very good setting for this event.

We had no idea what to expect.  It was very simple, we registered, and then we each sat down with a social worker who asked us several questions.  I was surprised how short it was. Then they gave us a patient form to give to our physician that gave the results of my memory test.  I didn’t know I would get that and I was very pleased to receive it. That was something new for me.

My husband and I took these forms to our physicians (2 separate doctors) and they both said the same thing “we’re very happy to have this information – it may seem like a short test to you, but it gives us a baseline and if you start to have a problem in the future, we can look back and see that on this date you were able to answer these questions and received this grade.”  In fact, the nurse practitioner told my husband that if a person comes in and the score is a certain number, then they know it’s time to take the next step with them. She felt it was a very valuable tool. I was happy to have it for my own peace of mind, but to have our physicians happy to have it too, well that made it even better.

One thing I noticed the other times I went as well – there seems to be 2 very different groups that go to the Memory Screening Day, those that are getting baselines, like me and my husband, and those that are well along into the forgetting stage.  They were there to be reassured. It seems to me this is a valuable tool for people to have a baseline to help the physicians monitor their patients and help people like me.

Thank you to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation for making the Memory Screening Day possible in Tucson.”

ARPF provides an alternative to the conventional, “magic bullet” drug approach. They believe that you can help yourself, right now, by utilizing a holistic or integrative medical approach, based on the lifestyle tools they advocate. Modern medical research reveals that all of the aspects of the ARPF’s Four Pillars of Prevention Plan, including physical and mental exercise, especially when used together, help build a healthier and stronger brain and memory.

For more information, visit alzheimersprevention.org.

You can support the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation today with DoTopia!

Simply login (or create a free personal giving account) and search for “alzheimers research and prevention foundation”. You can complete a one time donation or set up a recurring donation to help the ARPF. Every gift matters.

Nonprofit Spotlight: BAE Institute

We are thrilled to introduce you to BAE Institute | Bancroft Arnesen Explore, one of our amazing nonprofit partners who is creating a platform for girls and women’s voices to be heard so that these future minds are both breaking down barriers and leading the way in creating a sustainable and connected global movement.  Learn more about BAE, the work they do, and support them today!

There was quite a journey involved in creating Bancroft Arnesen Explore (BAE). How did this organization get formed and what does it stand for?

Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen are educators and explorers who together made history by becoming the first women to ski across Antarctica in 2001. That historic, 1,717-mile/2,764 km journey fulfilled Ann and Liv’s childhood dream and ignited an unwavering passion and commitment to create something bigger and beyond themselves. Through experiential education & storytelling, BAE has been at the forefront of inspiring action and leadership around the world. Crossing Antarctica began the global dialogue—impacting millions of students, educators and women ranging in age from 5 to 95. As pioneers who continue to advance their commitment, BAE has invested in 8 women (representing 6 different continents) to create a platform for girls and women’s voices to be heard so that these future minds are both breaking down barriers and leading the way in creating a sustainable and connected global movement. With courage, resilience, power, connection and an unprecedented track record, BAE continues the global dialogue—now amplified by 8 women, on 7 continents, over 12 years with Access Water. BAE | Access Water is a cross-cultural collaboration to inspire and acknowledge the human spirit—giving voice to each ONE of you. Access Water Team Members represent their region of the world to amplify the urgency for clean water and inspire solutions for a sustainable future. For over 30 years, we have been exploring, educating, inspiring, advocating and dreaming. Our goals are as vast as our hearts and we want to hear from you, “what are you THIRSTY for?”.

Where has your organization made the most impact?

Inspiring girls & women around the globe through leadership skills proven in the harshest environments. As educators who have become explorers (and women who have made history), Ann Bancroft & Liv Arnesen are unique role models and heroines in the education community. Bancroft and Arnesen bring their unique expertise and unwavering commitment—along with more than three decades of exploration—to inspire action and leadership around the world. BAE and YUNGA (Youth United Nations) co-created the Water Challenge Badge for WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts)—has served 10 million girls, in 146 countries and has been translated into 8 languages. The historic Antarctica journey, by the numbers: 50 US states with BAE online engagement/community members, 118 countries with BAE online engagement/community members and 2.1 billion media impressions.

What are your organizations top initiatives in 2018?

  • Through experiential education programs and storytelling, BAE Access Water will engage and empower over 60 million future minds to amplify the voices of girls & women around the globe.
  • Generate $1.5M through diverse types of revenue to create a sustainable business model which brings access to education and empowerment.
  • Build our social media community to 100K+ followers where we will share authentic, inspiring & empowering content.
  • Through BAE Access Water, continue to advance our most imperative initiative in 30 years with journey number 2 of 7:

Access Water INITIATIVE SERIES

1 | 2015-16 Asia/Ganges

2 | 2017-18 North America/Mississippi

3 | 2019 Africa

4 | 2021 Oceania

5 | 2023 South America

6 | 2025 Europe

7 | 2027 Antarctica

How can one get involved and join the movement?

You can support the BAE Institute today with DoTopia!

Simply login (or create a free personal giving account) and search for BAE Institute. You can complete a one time donation or set up a recurring donation to help BAE accomplish their 2018 goals throughout the year. It’s that easy!

Every gift matters. 

 

7 spiritual laws

Make 2018 the Year of Giving – Deepak Chopra’s 7 Spiritual Laws

We loved partnering with Deepak Chopra on this post and now for our #31DaysofGiving. Join our giving movement today and help us make the world a better place.

(originally posted on January 8th, 2018)

There’s nothing like the month of January to encourage us to reflect on what matters in life and the changes we want to make this year.  For those of us in the North, we are in the heart of winter and anxiously awaiting the first sign of spring. This is the time for us to hunker down, set some goals and plot out the next 11 months.

A tangible and relatable resource our team turns to when needing inspiration and reflection is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success written by Deepak Chopra. The seven laws are based on natural laws that govern all of creation. Deepak’s perspective is that once we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with natural law, a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, energy and enthusiasm for life, and material abundance will spring forth easily and effortlessly.

We would be hard pressed to find anything better than his sentiments. If you haven’t read this book, order it, read it, reflect, and then read it again. This is a book you can turn to time and time again when you find yourself drifting off your path and need to get back on track.

To recap Deepak’s inspiring words, here are the seven laws.

The Law of Pure Potentiality

The Law of Giving

The Law of Karma

The Law of Least Effort

The Law of Intention and Desire

The Law of Detachment

The Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life

The Law of Giving

As you can guess, we have a strong admiration for Law #2: The Law of Giving.

We often speak about the benefits of giving, there are so many!

Deepak puts it best:

“Because your body and your mind and the universe are in constant and dynamic exchange, stopping the circulation of energy is like stopping the flow of blood. Whenever blood stops flowing, it begins to clot, to coagulate, to stagnate. That is why you must give and receive in order to keep wealth and affluence – or anything you want in life – circulating in your life.”

In fact, the word currency comes from the latin word ‘currere’ which means ‘to run’ or flow. If we as a society stop the circulation of money, we stop the circulation back into our lives as well. Money is a form of life energy and therefore we must circulate (or give) to receive. In other words, to get you must give. It’s that simple.  

The Law of Giving can impact any area of your life and will help you achieve your goals:

  • If you want joy, give joy to others
  • If you want love, learn to give love
  • If you want attention and appreciation, learn to give attention and appreciation
  • If you want material affluence, help others become materially affluent

Here’s a great resource from the Chopra Center to put the law of giving into practice.

Quote on Unseen Energy

Intentions Quote

The More You Give Quote

You’ve got to read the rest for yourself! We don’t want to spoil any of the inspiring moments this book will give you.

Pro Tip

There are seven laws that align with the seven days of the week. Take 20 minutes each morning or night to read one of the chapters and dedicate that day to living out Deepak’s words.

Set Your Giving Goals

DoTopia has made achieving your giving goals even easier with our new options to set up recurring donations to your charities of choice or recurring funds to your Personal Giving Account.

Once you login, click on recurring activity.

Recurring Activity screen shot

Then choose whether you would like to set up a recurring donation to one of your favorite causes or a recurring fund to your Personal Giving Account.

Recurring donations

Make 2018 the year of giving.

Pure Capitalism to the B Corp

We recently caught up with Russ Stoddard, CEO & Founder of Oliver Russell, a certified B Corporation that helps purpose-driven companies create stronger brands, increase market share, and build communities of fans, followers, and advocates. Definitely a crush-worthy company mission. Even a glance at Oliver Russell’s people will put a smile on your face. The purpose-driven agency has been around since 1991, consistent with the inception of cause marketing. Yet Russ (aka: the magnet for good) has been doing this “social good” thing for far longer, 30 years to be exact. He has experienced all parts of the equation through his work inside the corporate world, as an entrepreneur, and in starting five nonprofits. We like to call this “the trifecta” as we also work to inspire people, companies, and causes at DoTopia.

As previously stated, Oliver Russell is a B Corporation. B Corps are a type of company that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Companies like Oliver Russell have subjected themselves to being scrutinized by the nonprofit B Lab to meet high performance standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. With over 2,400 Certified B Corps today, this way of building business for good continues to grow exponentially and has reached more than 50 countries already.

Given the experience Russ has in the world of social good, he shared his thoughts with us on why companies continue to explore other purpose-driven ways to do business like becoming a certified B Corp.

Q. We know Oliver Russell is B Corp Certified. Love to see this! What events do you believe drove companies to go from Pure Capitalism to business models like the “B Corp”?

A. First, I think you have a class of company leaders that is motivated by the challenge of using business to solve social and environmental problems—these models create deep meaning and a higher purpose for people whether they’re Millennials or seasoned corporate leaders who are launching second careers. Next, governments here in the U.S. have begun vacating some of their traditional roles as environmental and social fixers, often due to lack of funding, so companies are filling this void to fulfill this mission and create a financial profit. Lastly, people increasingly recognize that the B Corp model gives you a competitive edge—its foundation is just smart business in so many ways and creates a great platform to sustainably manage a business for success.

Q. What trends are causing more companies to think about being purpose-driven?

A. I think the marketplace is working its powerful magic to pressure companies to evolve their business models: employees want to work for companies and create social impact through their work; customers are seeking out brands that are aligned with their personal values; and investors are looking broadly at “purpose” as an umbrella term for minimizing their risk around ESG (environmental, social, and governance) considerations.

Q. How far do you think building socially-conscious business will go? What do you think the future holds for this movement?

A. All indicators right now—and I could kill you with data from any number of responsible, independent sources—would say that this movement will continue to build and become part of the norm. Why?! It’s just smart business.

Q. Who are some of the companies you think are getting this right?

A. There are so many of all sizes and stripes. Patagonia, for sure, is a big-name and a model for this movement. You can find small companies in rural America getting it right as well, such as Red Ants Pants in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. Red Ants Pants makes workwear designed especially for women and they invest in their community through a mission to develop and expand leadership roles for women; to preserve and support working family farms and ranches; and to enrich and promote rural communities. They live their purpose and their customers rally around them loyally because of it.

Q. What people/leaders/CEOs have inspired you to pursue a career in this work?  

A. I’ve been at this for nearly 30 years, so it’s hard for me to remember who inspired me way back then. But I can tell you a few of my heroes who inspire me today. Robert Eggers of LA Kitchen, who’s creating meaningful employment for underserved communities through healthy food; Curt Bowen of Semilla Nueva, who’s working to end malnutrition in Guatemala; Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, because he’s blazed a principled trail for the rest of us to follow; Sarah Calhoun of Red Ants Pants, who’s empowering women through her fantastic clothing; Christopher Scott of House of Renewed Hope, who was exonerated of murder and now works to free others who have been wrongfully convicted; and Mark Lung of Eco2librum, which fights poverty and deforestation in Kenya and is the highest scoring B Corporation in the world. I could go on and on—I’m lucky to have so many heroes.

Interested in hearing more from Russ? We thought so. Check out his book: Rise Up – How to Build a Socially Conscious Business.

Gen Z is Here

You’ve heard us speak to the changing workforce dynamic… almost on a weekly basis. This spring, Gen Z will be graduating from college and entering the workforce. Are you ready?

Here is a repost a favorite blog post of ours highlighting David and Jonah Stillman of Gen Z @ Work.

Meet David and Jonah Stillman, co-authors of Gen Z @ Work.

For nearly 20 years, David has been enamored with generations, their impact on the workplace and sharing his expertise with world renowned companies.

For 17 years, Jonah has been living the Gen Z life, sharing his insights with various companies and is currently the youngest speaker on the national lecture circuit.

Together they are the first father-son Gen X / Gen Z speaking team.

Their book, Gen Z @ Work, releases today and the team at DoTopia is proud to be a featured company in the book.

We had the pleasure of interviewing David earlier this month:

First things first, here’s a quick refresher on Who is Gen Z :

  • They were born between 1995 and 2012
  • At 72.8 million strong, Gen Z is about to make its presence known in the workplace in a major way—and employers need to understand the differences that set them apart
  • They’re radically different than Millennials, and yet no one seems to be talking about them… until now
  • This generation has an entirely unique perspective on careers and how to succeed in the workforce

All the buzz over the years has been about millennials.  What sparked you to write about Gen Z?

There has been SO much buzz about Millennials that people haven’t imagined that there was life after Millennials. We saw too many people assuming everyone under 30 was a Millennial when in fact, Gen Z is already 22 years old. Even more so, this generation is radically different than Millennials. If Gen Z is treated like Millennials, it will surely backfire. This sparked us to write the book.

Throughout your research, what surprised you the most about Gen Z?

A bunch of surprises – all proving our theory on just how different Gen Z is from Millennials. To name a few:

  • More competitive and independent than Millennials who are very collaborative
  • Prefers face to face communication most – even more than texting! (82% prefer face to face)
  • Willing to pay dues and start at the bottom. They are willing to stay at a company for more than 10 years. (71% said they will start at bottom)
  • Wants their own private workspace and does not like open office concept. (Only 8% liked open office concept)

What qualities in a company or brand will be most important to Gen Z when they are deciding where to work?

  • 91% said technological sophistication would impact their desire to work at a company.
  • Having seen too many leaders called into question as well as companies suffer in the recent recession, this generation wants honest and transparent leadership.
  • Gen Z is looking for places where they can wear multiple hats. In fact, 75% of this generation would like to work somewhere where they can have multiple career paths at the same time.
  • Having grown up in the recession, as much as Gen Z wants to make a difference in the world like Millennials did, they want money first and foremost.

What drew you to include DoTopia in your new book?

One of the key traits of this generation is HYPER CUSTOM. This is a generation that has grown up with the ability to customize everything from their twitter handles to their Nike shoes. I love how DoTopia puts the power of giving back in their hands. In addition, the fact that it is so easy to use is perfect for these digital natives who have only known a world where everything can happen right on your phone.

What steps should companies be taking to appropriately prepare themselves to be successful with this important Generation, as both employees and consumers?

First and foremost – do not assume they are anything like Millennials.

Second – get to know what makes them different. The best way to do this is to understand the

events and conditions that shaped them.

Third – realize that the leading edge is just graduating college this spring. The time to act is NOW.

They can be proactive rather than reactive later. That does not mean they have to start all over. The goal is to anticipate where the gaps will be and what they can as well as cannot change.

How will Corporate Social Responsibility change as Gen Z invades the workforce?  What impact will that have beyond the office?

  • This generation want to make a difference, but will want to make profits first. As they see it, the more money they make, the more money to give back.
  • Gen Z will be big supporters of social entrepreneurialism.

If we only remember one thing about this generation – what should that be?

Gen Z is their own generation and the time to get to know them is TODAY!

What’s next for the father and son, Stillman, duo?

We will continue to hit the speaking circuit shedding light on Gen Z with organizations. In addition, we are launching the first global study of Gen Z that will compare/contrast the generation across the globe.

10 ways not to epically fail at cause marketing

10 Ways NOT to Epically Fail at Cause Marketing

The phrase “epic fail” can be used to describe a lot of unfortunate events. Perhaps this adequately describes the keish you tried to make for your best friend’s going away brunch? Or worse, you didn’t have a back-up plan for your outdoor wedding ceremony and a monsoon hit. Regardless of the experience, we have all been there.

Many CEO’s would say they attribute failure to the reason they achieved their biggest successes. No one likes to hear this immediately after making a big mistake, but once our ego’s get out of the way, we can agree that failure is a large part of being human. Failure is often described as:

First

Attempt

In

Learning

In fact, here are some of the best epic company fails of recent times.

Either way, avoiding missteps and attempting to do things correctly the first time is the goal. Most of us would do research and even take a longer approach to solving a problem, especially when it comes to uncharted territory for your business like cause marketing. Improvement comes regardless.

Understanding Cause Marketing

By definition, Cause Marketing is the marketing of a for-profit product or business which benefits a nonprofit (or nonprofits) or supports a social cause (or causes) in some way.

Perhaps you’re an experienced cause marketer already. For those newbies to this marketing tactic, this idea may make you nervous. Marketing combined with social good might seem unconventional or risky. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in feeling this way. We will address that sentiment in a bit.

Let’s first begin by reframing your thinking.

Cause marketing is far more common that most people realize and has gone from a $120 million industry in 1990 to more than $2 billion in 2016. Companies and nonprofits alike believe in the power it can provide for both entities. Additionally, research shows that more than 84 percent of global consumers want to buy socially or environmentally responsible services and products. Still not convinced? Here are some great examples of cause marketing done right.

Doing Cause Marketing the Right Way

As with anything, cause marketing can be executed incorrectly. Though we’d like to assume the best in all companies, cause marketing has been ridiculed and pegged to not only seem inauthentic, but at its worse, has detracted from the brand purpose and good the company is trying to do (even if their hearts were in the right place…). As a skeptic, you are not 100% wrong. Rather than tell you and your company how to create a successful cause marketing campaign (Kim Gordon has some simple tips in this Forbes article on that), we are going to tell you 10 Ways NOT to epically fail at cause marketing.

  1. Be Real – Your customers better believe you when you say “I care about the causes you care about” or “This cause is important to us because…”. If you are just doing something for PR benefits, you won’t get away with it. KFC’s “Buckets for the Cure” is a perfect example of one campaign gone wrong. 
  2. Talk to your customers first – What causes matter to those you are trying to engage? You will definitely not nail your focus down to one cause, so instead consider a focus area (healthcare, environment, education etc.) or even allow your customers to decide on the specific organizations they want to support. It should align with your brand and mission in some way (think TOMS® shoes and giving shoes to those in need).
  3. Focus on the right goals – One of the main goals for any company should be to drive brand affinity as a result of cause marketing. Look beyond the traditional customer loyalty measures which can be short-sighted and not inclusive of a personal and emotional relationship with your customers.
  4. Get social (media) happy – Knowing that Americans spend most of their online time on social media sites (does anyone else find this concerning?), use this knowledge to your advantage. Social media is a great way to research prior to launch and make your campaign go further with custom hashtags and the virality of social media to promote your campaign.
  5. Measure, Manage, and MultiplyKnow the goals of both your company and the organization(s) you wish to support, how you plan to achieve them, and how you can double down on any efforts your customers put toward the program. You want them to care, but you may need to do more to show them how important they are to the success of the program.
  6. Ask your employees – Your employees are developing close relationships with your customers. It would be a major miss not to get them involved. Build excitement around your cause marketing initiatives and involve a diverse group (not just CSR or Marketing) into the overall campaign strategy.
  7. Research community needs – Perhaps you run a local coffee shop and it is very clear as to what nonprofits need support in your area. For other Fortune 1000 companies, it is more difficult. The global nature of business has expanded our reach and overall needs for businesses to do good. While a single cause marketing campaign may be short-sighted, businesses with a national or global reach may be most suited for a solution that allows customers to support their specific community needs. Based on research among DoTopians, givers appreciate the ability to support nonprofits that are doing work that is visible in their communities.
  8. Be proud – As a company, you should be proud of the positive work you are doing in the pursuit to make the world a better place. Be prepared that regardless of how well executed your program is, internet trolls and haters will find their way to you. The more positive energy and employee excitement you infuse into your program, the more successful it will be.
  9. One and Done Doesn’t Work – If you are committed to aligning purpose to profits, you can’t just expect to do one campaign every year and for it to appear genuine. Cause marketing campaigns may be one-off initiatives, but you must find ways to engage customers in social good with your company all year. Providing DoDollars® as a part of a traditional customer loyalty program is one way you could remind customers of your desire to be seen as a socially good company, not just when it is convenient to do a marketing campaign.
  10. Share positive financial expectations with leadership – Real talk here. Your CMO is going to want to know the return of cause marketing whether that be in the form of leads, conversions, sales, and ultimately profitability for your company. This is NOT a bad thing. In fact, if businesses do not continue to be profitable, our nonprofits will be missing out on a lot of financial support, around $50 billion dollars. There is proof everywhere now as to why being a socially good company will lead to higher profits. American Express led the cause marketing movement with the company’s famous partnership with the nonprofit group that was raising funds to restore the statue of liberty during a three-month campaign. Often cited as the birth of cause marketing, American Express card usage rose 27 percent and new card applications increased 45 percent over the previous year. Customers want to see brands doing good and the reward will come in the form of greater profitability for your company.

If you can’t already tell, we are big fans of cause marketing and have witnessed numerous success stories on behalf of both the brand and the causes. Hopefully your company has already started giving your customers and employees what they are asking for in today’s socially tuned-in and giving oriented climate. If not, it is never too late to start. You should have also gathered that cause marketing is not a one size fits all solution nor is it the end game. As brands continue to pursue a greater purpose outside of sole profitability, your company will need an ongoing plan to attract and build affinity with your customers. We know one simple thing is for certain…

No one ever became poor by giving.

Next time you have the opportunity, remind your company.

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