Category Archives: Blog

Where I Belong: Our New Video!

banner-video

At The SOLD Project, we’ve been putting together a film project, and I’m happy to announce that it’s now live and ready to view! As you probably know by now, our students are selected for our program because they are at risk of being trafficked and sold for sex. Some of our students are highlighted as being at risk because they are stateless: that is, they don’t have any citizenship in any country. Whether because they are the children of Burmese refugees or because they are ethnic minorities that have been discriminated against, they have been denied citizenship and all that comes with it: access to public education, healthcare, legitimate jobs, etc.

This film is the story of two of our students, brothers, who happen to be stateless. When I met Surachat, he blew me away:

He said his hero was Abraham Lincoln.

He takes every opportunity to learn English, he is polite and modest, projecting a sense of sincerity and earnestness to improve himself. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch his and his brother’s story, and if you feel so inspired, to share it with others, using this link.

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from hardships. It’s the capacity to bounce back. Our new film highlights the power of this capacity in action, encouraging us all to dream and strive for our dreams each day.

If you’re moved to help Surachat and Surachai, please check out our MATCHING CAMPAIGN where every dollar you give is matched 100% by going to DONATE NOW.

Field Report: A Special Trip for Kids Who Can’t Travel

funny-art-3d-kid-and-worn

International law defines statelessness as a lack of citizenship. In Thailand, many people born near the borders of Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, or in hill tribe villages lack documented citizenship and are therefore considered stateless. Without citizenship, they do not enjoy the same rights as others, even if they were born and have lived their entire lives in Thailand. As one might expect, this means they have limited access to healthcare and education. What one might not realize is that it also means very restricted ability to travel. Stateless individuals here are not allowed to travel outside of their home province.

The right to travel, even to a place as simple as another state, is something many of us often take for granted.

But for the undocumented, it is something they cannot do freely.

However, certain exceptions can be made and special dispensations given if an organization or school takes a group on a field trip––so that is exactly what the staff at The SOLD Project did.

funny-art-3d-kid-and-worn

Win, who was once stateless himself, is our Thailand Mentorship Program and Legal Advisor. Growing up without citizenship, he understands the unique challenges children face and also how to work hard to overcome those challenges. He persevered and ended up graduating law school and just this year passed his exams to become a lawyer. He wanted to give our stateless scholarship students some extra motivation to continue to study so he arranged a weekend field trip to Chiang Mai to visit Chiang Mai University and participate in some fun activities. Stateless children are often discouraged from studying because it is assumed they will not be able to get jobs outside of their village. They are not given the same opportunities or diplomas as Thai citizens, so they face constant pressure to drop out of school to find more immediate, though more menial work, or they lose the motivation to work hard when so much hard work appears fruitless. Win’s goal is to keep them in school and show them that if they work hard and persevere, it might be possible to attain the same opportunities as others.

The field trip turned into a successful weekend of mentorship, friendship, bonding, and fun! It started off with two vans full of staff and 11 students, driving the 3 hour windy mountain roads to Chiang Mai. Along the way, we stopped to eat lunch at a National Park. The kids immediately ran to the bridge across the river and started snapping selfies and enjoying the beautiful environment.

After lunch the road trip continued until we safely made it to Chiang Mai. The first part of the adventure was a trip to Ratchaphruek Garden. The kids and staff enjoyed walks through the flower gardens and seeing all the different buildings, gardens, flowers, and exhibits.

funny-art-3d-panda

The second day started with a full morning of entertaining selfies at the 3D Art Museum. Even the shy kids started to come out of their shells while being encouraged to take selfies sitting on magic carpets or hanging off bamboo trees! New friendships were made and pictures were shared along with lots of smiles and laughter.

Next stop was Chiang Mai University. Since a few of our staff present, Lux, Worn, Khae, and Bee, are proud graduates of CMU they took the lead in showing the students around. They each talked about their experiences and the different programs and choices the students could have.

After lunch at the Univeristy dining hall, the students each partnered with a staff member and to have a chance to ask questions. Then they headed back to the van to go up to Doi Suthep to end the day with a beautiful view of the city. That evening, the group went to a local market to get dinner and celebrate Khae, the director’s birthday. The kids surprised her with a cake and everyone enjoyed socializing and shopping.

The next day after breakfast, the kids piled into the vans to head back to Chiang Rai. On the way, the kids discussed the trip, shared photos, slept, and some even attempted van karaoke. Overall the trip was a remarkable new experience and the kids were given an opportunity to make new friends, bond with their mentors, visit a university, and travel to a place they otherwise would not have been able to go. This is just one example of how staff here on the ground continuously put the children first and invest the extra time and energy to travel and even stay overnight in order to give the students every positive experience and opportunity possible.

*Please note: Photos included here with identifiable faces are only of staff members, to protect the identities of our students.

lisa-headshot_bw

 

Lisa Winterfeldt is our International Liason, helping to bridge communication between our U.S. and Thai offices. She has experience teaching children with needs at various schools in the U.S., and in teaching with an international school in Bangkok.

Save The Date: Giving Tuesday

november29

2016-gt-logo-wdate1

People have been quick to point out the irony in giving thanks for all we have on Thanksgiving, only to rush out to buy more on Black Friday.

Well, there’s a new movement now: Giving Tuesday! Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, here’s an opportunity to give. It harnesses:

“the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.”

To learn more or join the movement, check out this website: https://www.givingtuesday.org, watch their video, and get active! Kick off your holiday season by engaging in your community and being a force for positivity.


Happy Thanksgiving!

from our family at The SOLD Project team to yours!

What Does Resilience Mean to You?

shutterstock_szefei

Let’s try a little thought experiment, shall we?

Are you ready? Yes?

Okay good. I want you to think back on a time that was one of the most CHALLENGING things you’ve ever been through. The hardest thing you’ve ever done. Something SO hard you weren’t sure you’d actually make it through to the other side. In fact, maybe you even thought you WOULDN’T make it through, and even now you might not be sure how you did survive it.

Do you have one? If you don’t, I want you to sit and think about it until you’ve got one.

Got it? Okay.

Now, write down at least three things that helped you get through it. Go on, write it down. You’ll need it in a minute.

It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Got all three?

Now take a look at what you wrote down. What kinds of things did you write down? Was it the support of a friend or loved one? The guidance of a counselor, mentor, or spiritual advisor? Sheer willpower and determination? A shift in perspective––to focus on the positive or even a specific mantra? Alcohol?   Coffee?   Vats of ice cream? Simply the knowledge that you must go on, come what may?

shutterstock_szefei

All these things are called resources, and we draw on them constantly, through minor trials and through the greatest adversity we ever face.

The more resources you have, and the more easily you can draw on them, the better your chances are of facing difficulty with resilience.

There’s no promise that life won’t be hard.

There’s no promise that challenge won’t change you. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not.

It is resilience––these resources, both internal and external––that can help get you through. Our challenges do not have to define us. But they can reveal us.

Very soon, you’ll see some new things come from us at The SOLD Project and we’re excited to show you what we’ve been up to.

In the meantime…you see those three things you wrote down?

Please share them. This conversation might be more important––healing and inspiring to those who need it––now than ever. Post your responses in the comments on the link to this post on our Facebook page and then tag friends you think might be interested to do the same. Share and spread the word!

Trafficking in the News

Awareness

Awareness

Photo credit: Shutterstock/GongTo

Trends in the News on Trafficking

We’re breaking with our traditional format of relating the news to highlight an interesting trend in reporting on the news about trafficking, especially in regards to Thailand/Southeast Asia. In the past few months, there has been a growing narrative on the relationship between trafficking, human rights norms, and international trade and cooperation.

Increasingly, human rights considerations and the prevalence of human trafficking concerns are becoming a standard part of trade negotiations and international cooperation. Nations are expected to revise national laws to meet international standards or risking losing trade privileges due to noncompliance. As Sumano reports in the Bangkok Post, “Pressured by the new trade landscape, governments can no longer focus on economic prosperity without addressing social development through the promotion of fundamental human rights.”

In response to increased scrutiny over its trafficking record, Thailand became the third country in ASEAN to ratify a new convention on human trafficking. It’s the region’s first legally binding commitment to combatting trafficking, and it underscores the Thai government’s dedication to working in concert with other nations to eradicate the problem. (Source: The Diplomat)

However, there is some concern that while the pressure from trade deals highlights human rights abuses and encourages compliance with international standards, especially within the seafood industry, it allows other forms of human trafficking (such as child trafficking, etc.) to fly under the radar. Human rights organizations have been skeptical of the US’s move to upgrade Thailand’s TIP status, fearing the move has been made too soon, perhaps for political reasons to counterbalance against China’s growing influence. (Source: ASEAN Today)

In Other News

U.S. prosecutors are collaborating with Thai police to prosecute a major case against a large international sex trafficking ring, where hundreds of Thai women were brought to the U.S., promised lucrative jobs, and sold as sex slaves in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Washington. The accused include 17 Thai nationals and 5 Americans. (Source: Bangkok Post) This highlights the growing relationship between American and Thai law enforcement agencies to prosecute cases in both nations and collaborate to fight trafficking. (Source: FBI)

NGOs fighting trafficking in Vietnam are arguing that prevention programs that focus on “raising awareness” alone, without any efforts to fight root causes, are not sufficient, especially with endemic corruption permitting trafficking to continue. (Source: ASEAN Today)

Cambodian trafficking victims are suing U.S. seafood importers and their Thai suppliers that they allege have been complicit in slave-like working conditions. (Source: VOA News)

Young Cambodian filmmakers have teamed up with human trafficking survivors to produce short films based on true-life events. The Chaktomuk Short Film Festival will highlight several films touching on issues such as migrant workers’ rights and how families must cope when a member leaves in search of work. Trafficking survivors have not only contributed their stories, but have also partaken in some of the acting. (Source: Cambodia Daily)

Growing Leaders, part II: Gung

ypp-performing-skit

Last week, we shared a highlight on Ketsara Thutsunti, an amazing local leader who has had an immeasurable impact on our students. Today, we’d like to spotlight one of the students who has been positively affected by Ketsara’s dedication to growing the next generation of leaders. In partnership with ECPAT, Ketsara has chosen a select number of scholarship kids who have demonstrated leadership potential, and she has invited them to participate in a year-long Youth Leadership Program (YPP). One of those students is Gung.

kade-and-gung

Gung is from a small village just down the road from the Resource Center and she has been involved with The SOLD Project almost since its inception 8 years ago. She’s now 17. When she was first asked to join YPP, she hesitated. She feared being a leader meant responsibility she might not be able to handle and she was afraid that she wouldn’t know or be able to command the respect of the other kids. Where she comes from, leaders have always been chosen because of their family name or influence and power. In her experience, leadership was something bestowed only upon those who had a reputable name. She didn’t realize that being a leader was something she could do.

Gung shared a story about an experience she had as a child. The temple in her village was hosting a northern dance and the small kids were all invited to practice and perform. However, because she lived in the southern part of the village, she was not allowed to participate. Growing up with exclusionary experiences like that limited her concept of what could be possible.

Though she was shy and balked at first, Ketsara encouraged her to try. Then, when she went to the first camp, she quickly learned that leadership was not only something she could do, but that she honestly enjoyed and benefited from it. She learned games and activities she could teach to the younger kids. She made new friends and learned new skills. She said she loved learning about the skits because it was a way to express emotions safely and appropriately––a skill that has been both a personal and cultural challenge––and it taught her to be more open and comfortable speaking in front of others.

Now when asked what leadership means to her, she responds,

“It is an opportunity to give advice to others––not only younger kids, but everyone. Leaders have the power to open opportunities for people.”

That’s one reason why the Youth Partnership Program is so important for kids like her. Ketsara’s mentorship has allowed Gung to see her own potential. It has allowed her opportunities to become a mentor herself. She can share advice with others and grow in self-confidence and her own ability to handle daily problems.

ypp-performing-skit

“I now know how to start conversations with others and how to talk to others. Being in YPP has improved my relationships and helped me understand and talk about my feelings.”

When reflecting on when she was younger, Gung described herself as having a “weak” mind.

“When I had a small problem, I would cry, but now I am stronger and have experience to solve problems.”

With this new confidence she has been able to step up into a leadership role in her community of peers. She has many experiences she can now share with others, including choices about education. She said she would tell other kids to listen to other’s opinions, help them find the best path, and to follow their heart and dreams for whatever they want to do in life.

Gung is completing her last year of vocational school, where she is following her dream of learning English so she might one day work in the tourism industry. She hope to eventually live in a bigger city and work as a tour guide for foreigners. She may even want to spend time abroad working as an au pair. Having mentors like Ketsara, and gaining experience through YPP, along with having a community of support at The SOLD Project has made it possible for Gung to achieve these dreams.

lisa-headshot_bw

 

Lisa Winterfeldt is our International Liason, helping to bridge communication between our U.S. and Thai offices. She has experience teaching children with needs at various schools in the U.S., and in teaching with an international school in Bangkok.

Our Holiday Gift Catalog is Here!

blog-thumb

cards3We’re excited to unveil our first ever holiday gift catalog, filled with easy ways to prevent child exploitation and trafficking while giving to the ones you love. With each gift you purchase, we will mail a FREE gift card to your recipient, announcing you have made a generous gift in their honor.

During this holiday season, give the gift of freedom to an at-risk child. It’s simple!

  1. Check out the ways to support the work of prevention
  2. Order your gift online or on the phone
  3. Tell us who it’s for and where to send the free card!

Shop the gift catalog today!

Growing Leaders, Part I: Ketsara

kade-copy

14650595_10154302897102949_5466413995086582305_n

On October 13, the people of Thailand lost their beloved king of 70 years. King Bhumibol was respected and revered for his compassionate leadership. With humility and compassion, he would visit even the most remote and poor villages, working with local communities to develop numerous projects to protect and lead his people to a better future. In mourning his loss and honoring his legacy, we are reminded what great leadership looks like. 

kade-copyThis month, we would like to shine a light on a great leader here at The SOLD Project: Ketsara Thutsunti. I have known Ketsara for the year that I have been involved with The SOLD Project, and every day I am blown away by her compassion, work ethic, leadership, and the daily impact that she has on the children here. Ketsara is special. She has a servant’s heart that shines through in everything she does. Not only does she model leadership through her own actions, but she mentors young people, both scholarship students and others in the community, teaches them how to be leaders, and gives them guided opportunities to practice taking on leadership roles.

Ketsara grew up in a hill tribe in Northern Thailand. She was never encouraged to study because her father didn’t understand the importance of education for female children.

This did not discourage Ketsara, and she continued to work hard. She received a scholarship when she was in primary school from Compassion International and she went to a boarding school in Chiang Rai. In grade 5, she was given the job of classroom assistant. At first she was shy, but she felt it was an honor to be chosen, so she took on the responsibility. Sometimes they had meetings with other grades and helped to plan activities like sports day, etc. This was her first leadership role, and she naturally fit the position. Ketsara went on to get her Bachelor’s degree from Rajabhat Chiang Mai University and took a job working as a project coordinator for New Sky, working with HIV positive clients. This job gave her experience and confidence to reach for other and higher positions. As she grew in her own leadership, she followed her dream of becoming a Sunday School teacher. She was nervous that she didn’t have the education and skills necessary, but because of her past experiences and opportunities, she felt confident in moving forward. After getting married, she took a job working with the Office of Child Protection, where she began to teach the 3-3-5 program, which teaches children how to recognize and prevent child abuse. Eventually, that brought her to The SOLD Project, where she now teaches 3-3-5 in local schools, runs a leadership council group at the Resource Center, and works with an international children’s rights organization, ECPAT, to run a Youth Partnership Program. She now uses her own experiences to help guide the students into being successful young leaders.

ypp-booth

Several of our scholarship students were chosen to participate and have attended 2-3 day long camps where they have participated in team building and problem solving activities, learned how to lead group activities, put on skits and plays, and learned about the problem of online exploitation. Together with Ketsara, they have successfully run programs at the Resource Center for the community, put on a skit for a large group of peers, planned and set up a booth at a local community event where they educated peers through questions and prizes about trafficking and the dangers of online exploitation. What started as a group of young hesitant students has now developed into a group of young leaders.

 

In village communities, kids from low-income families don’t often have opportunities to be a leader. In their understanding, leadership is relegated only to those with education, money, or respected family names. Leadership amongst youth, and especially young women, is a very recent concept. Ketsara is helping to break past these perceptions every day by guiding the children into leadership roles.

ypp-kids-leading-335-2

3-3-5: This is a program in the schools that helps children become aware of their rights and what to do to stop and report abuse. This program reached 779 kids in the year 2015 and Kade is now teaching other staff and the leadership students how to facilitate trainings to have an even larger impact.

 

Often when she first introduces the kids to leadership opportunities, they are hesitant. They know that being a leader means more responsibility and they aren’t sure they want to join. They are nervous they may not know other students, or will be uncomfortable with extra responsibility. Ketsara encourages them. She explains that it is a new experience and they will build skills that will benefit them in high school and university. Afterwards, the students come back and tell her that they loved the experience and they feel proud of what they have accomplished. She now has other students coming to her and asking if they can participate too. Her experiences growing up have given her understanding and she can speak from the heart and her own experience to encourage the kids. She knows that having a supportive community is critical to their success.

Seeing the students build their confidence and self-esteem is another reason these programs are so important.

Many children in the villages don’t hear positive encouragement from their families, and praise embarrasses their sense of modesty. Furthermore, respect for elders does not allow children to express emotions, but instead diligently obey their parents. Parents often worry if they show emotion or express appreciation or pride in their children, it will make them appear weak or even worse, make the children forget their place in the social structure. Therefore, many children are left wondering what value they have. Ketsara believes this needs to change and she works to help the children see their own value. She involves the families, especially the fathers, to encourage and promote change. She would love to see fathers supporting and building positive self-esteem in children even when they are young. To do this, she works with local organizations like Baan School to run Family Camps, where families are encouraged to be open about and share emotions and together build relationships and learn the value of quality time together.

leadership

Students interested in learning about and participating in leadership programs were invited to be a part of a leadership council that meets monthly. The members include a chairman, assistant, secretary, treasurer, and public relations. They plan activities in the community and also take part in service work. Ketsara has provided materials and activities to help support the students and help them grow. Last month, the students made blueberry pie at the Resource Center for the children.

Ketsara wants the kids to become young leaders. She wants them to develop skills that will serve them into the future. When asked why she thinks it is important to teach the kids to be leaders, she responded:

“If kids learn something good and practice it, then they can teach others as well. I want them to gain the confidence to be a leader so they can feel comfortable teaching others. If they learn when they are young, they can take more leadership roles as they grow up. They can share what they learn and be a role model for others. The more experiences they have will help their perspective grow and their self-confidence will grow. Then they can follow their dreams and do their talents and feel important and valued.”

Thank you Ketsara, for all that you do!

lisa-headshot_bw

Lisa Winterfeldt is our International Liason, helping to bridge communication between our U.S. and Thai offices. She has experience teaching children with needs at various schools in the U.S., and in teaching with an international school in Bangkok.

With Thailand, We Mourn

14721669_10154594422357152_5902533500428292438_n

14650595_10154302897102949_5466413995086582305_n

It is difficult to express what the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej means to Thailand and its people. I have been trying to find an analog in Western culture and history, and with perhaps the exception of Princess Diana or possibly President John F. Kennedy, I find myself coming up short. Even those examples pale in comparison, as many of us are too young to remember or know how their deaths impacted the general public.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej was so revered because he was more than a monarch.

He was a father figure, a role model, an inspiration, and a protector. He defies comparison in Western culture because no one in our recent history is so loved by people across the political spectrum, regardless of beliefs or ideologies, and the love and respect for him spans multiple generations. He has been the single constant force for harmony and unity, since Truman’s first term as American President. He has seen Thailand through the Cold War, through the Vietnam War, through the threat of communism, through coups and elections, through peace and times of incredible instability. In all that time, he lead through his example of boundless compassion, self-sacrifice, devotion to his people and his country, and a commitment to thoughtful, sustainable, and ethical progress. He was instrumental in bringing democracy to his country and he developed over 3,000 projects designed to help the poorest people rise up out of poverty, in harmony with the environment. He was often seen, with camera and notebook in hand, traveling to the poorest and most remote regions of Thailand, talking with people about their challenges and their needs, listening to them, and then devising innovative ways to help. He broke with traditions and empowered his people make change on their own terms, and they remain forever grateful.

In his youth, he never expected to be king.

It was only after his brother’s untimely passing that the right to the crown passed to King Bhumibol when he was just 18. He gave up his love for science and education to study law and political science so that he could better serve his people. He delayed his coronation until the age of 23, when he had completed his studies.

He was once quoted as saying after his brother’s death:

“I had never thought of becoming a king. I only wanted TO be your younger brother”.

To the people of Thailand, he was more than a king. For 70 years, he was the embodiment of all that was good in the world. He was a foundation of stability, a guiding light of moral authority, and the beacon of hope and grace.

We pray his legacy lives on, in perpetuity.

14721669_10154594422357152_5902533500428292438_n

Photo credit: Tatrawee Harikul

portraitforprofiles

 

Dr. Jade Keller is the Thailand Program Advisor and Editor for The SOLD Project. After receiving a PhD in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara, she moved with her family to northern Thailand to work in child trafficking prevention, education, and helping to raise awareness. She is half American, and half Thai.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility is More than Writing a Check

_tmk1477_bw

14650595_10154302897102949_5466413995086582305_n

In tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, we will post this banner on all our articles until the end of November. 

_tmk1477_bw

Giving to charities is on a decline. Corporate contributions, especially, have declined from a high of 2.1 percent at its peak in 1986 to just around 0.8 percent in 2012.

It’s understandable. With every transaction scrutinized, traditional corporate philanthropy is considered an inappropriate use of funds. And yet, the demand for socially responsible companies grows. In fact:

  • 90% of U.S. consumers say they would switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality, reports the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study
  • 55% of online consumers are willing pay more for product or service offerings when a company is associated with social impact, according to a Nielsen study
  • 67% of employees would rather work for an organization that was socially responsible, according to the same Nielsen study

It’s not an issue of people being uninterested in companies that are socially charitable. It’s an issue of donating time and money more effectively. Businesses quantify everything, and for good reason. You want to make sure what you are doing is paying off. Because of this, corporate social responsibility has evolved into something that is beneficial for the business, their employees, consumers, and non profit organizations.

So the question is: how can you make your company more socially responsible and more effective?

 

Build social responsibility into your company mission statement

Effective giving starts at your company’s core. It should be part of your drive, written into your mission statement, and reflected in every action your business makes. Outdoor retailer, Patagonia, is a great example of this. Instead of calling it “corporate responsibility,” they view their corporate giving as “caring for the planet that has sustained us.” For every purchase made, 1% goes toward causes the leaders at Patagonia are passionate about, like preserving land, protecting salmon, creating healthier soil, and producing more sustainable food. Corporate philanthropy is not just something they do–it’s something they live and breathe.

Yvon Chouinard, the owner and founder of Patagonia, said:

“If you could get businesses, any business, to understand that they have more responsibility than to maximize the profits for their shareholders, or for themselves, that they have a responsibility to the planet. We all do. The best way to do it is to dig into your pockets and give the money away to the people who are willing to do the good work.”

Making giving part of your mission statement sets you apart from your competitors. It says, “we’re passionate about what we do, and we’re passionate about doing it responsibly.” The leaders at Patagonia stand by their mission statement to care for the earth while making good products, and from that, they actually make more money and have loyal fans.

Look at your products and services. How can you expand your societal engagement? How can you build social responsibility into the core of your business?

 

Partner with the right cause

All businesses start as being an answer to a problem. We see a market need, and work hard to fill it. Charities are the same way–they just provide their services in a different way. Partnering your business’s passion with the right charity can be a powerful and dynamic way to increase loyalty and goodwill for your company and awareness and funds for the cause.

 

The best partnerships make sense

In 2010 when KFC partnered with cancer awareness charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, people were confused. Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action, argued:

“They are raising money for women’s health by selling a product that’s bad for your health… it’s hypocrisy.”

kfc-ad_bw

Involving your company with a social cause is more than just feeling good about making the world a better place. It’s an alliance saying that the charity’s work aligns with your own ideals.

Warby Parker creates eyewear. But they also give back eyewear to people who need it. Their business model is “buy a pair, give a pair.” After they tally up how much they have made, they donate a portion to their nonprofit partners who train men and women in developing countries how to perform basic eye exams. It is good for Warby Parker, because it is good marketing, morale building, and fan building, and it is good for the world. It’s a partnership that makes sense and fits easily into their business strategy.

Some connections are easier to draw than others, but it shouldn’t be difficult. If you are a grocery chain, consider partnering with a food bank. If you are a technology firm, consider investing in underserved children’s educational programs, like science museums or kids’ camps that provide training in skills you’d like to see. There are thousands of different charities doing amazing work. Find the one that connects with the reason for why you started your own business and see how you can harness your collective power in transformational ways.

 

Social responsibility is good business

The companies that get the most from social giving are the ones who genuinely feel passionate towards a certain cause. It’s the ones that recognize a problem in the world and feel like they can’t just sit and watch. It’s the ones that are able to rally hundreds, or thousands, or millions of employees, customers and fans, behind something they are passionate about.

Being socially responsible is taking a risk, but it, so far, is proven to be a successful way to run a business. Craig Matthews, the owner and founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, second member of Patagonia, said:

“From a marketing standpoint, once people find out what you are doing and giving to what they are so passionate about, and what business members are so passionate about, it’s a no-brainer. People sign up and people become your customer because of it.”

 

How can partnering with a nonprofit help your business, inspire your employees, rally your clients, and change the world for better?

 

lauren_bw

 

Lauren Ellis started working as a graphic designer at 18 and by 26, she left her agency job to help start up a small web agency in downtown Austin where she worked as Creative Director. Since then, she left her home in America behind to work in Thailand with The SOLD Project. Lauren teaches art therapy classes, designs all of The SOLD Project’s work and manages the social media accounts.