Triodos Bank on growth – forget the numbers

Triodos have nailed the tone of this film, their mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change and this couldn’t come across more. It’s not just about investing in the development of more products, more buildings, more companies for shareholder value but investing in smarter solutions that help create efficiency or social impact.

They call their approach old fashioned in their mission, it seems a pretty innovative financial approach to me.

#PrankitFWD

This lady’s a waitress and had pretty challenging times growing up.
Despite everything she now runs her own non profit in her spare time, helping people with eating disorders recover through yoga. So the team at prank it forward decided to give her the best shift ever as she gives so much to other people.

And on the PrankitFWD website is says ‘This April, Break is using its prank powers for good as we unleash a handful of positive pranks. For every 1,000 views we’ll donate $1 to the social change organization, DoSomething.org.’ What a great idea for utilising video content for fundraising. They’ve had 20M views so far so that’s £20,000 donated.

The power of crowdfunding

As part of On Purpose I’m working at JustGiving on Yimby, their new crowdfunding community. Crowdfunding in the US is a much more crowded marketplace but the UK has it’s fair share too. From rewards based creative sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, FundIt to social good and civic ones like Crowdfunder, Spacehive and Yimby, to equity based sites like Crowdcube and Seedrs. There are even niche platforms like StudentFunder. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list.

In 2012, crowdfunding portals helped small business owners and individuals raise about $2.7 billion.  According to Massolution (which tracks the market) that figure was set to double in 2013. Was the recession and the government’s budget cuts the catalyst for this rapid growth, or was there a movement to create more good in the world? I hope it’s the latter.

There are now several banks and big brands even getting behind crowdfunding. Seeds.nl is a crowdfunding pilot launched last year by the Dutch bank ABN AMRO’s innovation platform, Dialogues Incubator. Seeds.nl invited interested parties to invest a minimum of 50 euros in five companies contributing positively to society – GreenGraffiti, Greenjoy, On The Ground Reporter, We Beat The Mountain and Yuno. The four-month pilot saw 3 companies out of 5 being successful.

Philips used Indiegogo last year to launch a competition where entrepreneurs battle for money for their product ideas. To be eligible for the $60,000 grand prize they had to reach a certain level of their funding goals.

In order to get a picture of the crowdfunding environment for 2014, Devin Thorpe in his Forbes article, spoke to some of the most prominent leaders in the crowdfunding world for causes and mission-driven businesses (in the US). Here’s my top 3 from the 10 he’s covered.

Rapid growth of crowdfunding will continue.
Amanda Barbara of Pubslush observes, “Crowdfunding overall is on the rise, driven in large part by entrepreneurial, artistic and philanthropic ideas. [My] prediction is that this growth will continue at least at the current rate, if not faster.” She goes on to say that Crowdfunding began its exponential rise around 2009. Google Trend data shows a correlating steady rise in social good beginning at the same time.

More people will make meaningful philanthropy part of their lives.
Robert Wolfe, CEO of CrowdRise, predicts, “More and more people will make meaningful philanthropy a part of their personal narratives on Facebook, in school, on CrowdRise and really in everything they do — not solely because the world is an increasingly selfless place, but because people recognize that giving back is cool and thirst for the experience of participating in something that’s fun and feels good.” He explains the driver, “Giving back isn’t just transactional anymore and it’s not just about making a donation. It’s about engaging, participating and being part of a movement.”

Crowdfunding will democratize philanthropy.
Lesley Mansford, CEO of Razoo, predicts that, “Amplified democratization of giving [will] make it easy for everyone to be an everyday philanthropist. Younger generations, especially millennials, are getting more involved with social good and philanthropy, and commonly prefer online giving through crowdfunding making technology critical to bringing generosity into the next era.“

It’s really interesting to see that banks are engaging in this marketplace to add crowdfunding into the mix alongside their core business. The financial crisis and capital requirements placed on banks made it much more difficult to offer funding to businesses and individuals. And the banks don’t want to lose out.

Danae Ringelmann Indiegogo’s co-founder feels brands are getting involved as “these campaigns let brands engage with their customers rather than just treating them as a transaction. The customers feel like they’re working alongside the brand to make something happen.” Or it’s a clever form of CSR to get the punters to help pay.

Crowdfunding isn’t just about the money as the 3 points above highlight. It’s about engaging, participating and perhaps most importantly being part of a movement. Will the sites which foster this spirit the most succeed…..we shall have to wait and see.

Crowdfunding empowers individuals to do social good in their communities and could help ease the pressure on government and councils to fix things. So perhaps one day our taxes could reduce and reliance on local government – a utopian ideal. Power to the people!

Fikay – recycled fashion

Who’d have thought a cement bag could be turned into such mighty fine recycled accessories. This new range by Fikay Eco Fashion is produced by local villagers, they’re paid a fare wage, to support their communities. Fikay is run by socially minded Students (who are winning lots of awards while they’re at it). The company’s aim is to make a ‘positive, sustainable impact on communities in poverty by employing local producers’. Fikay Eco Fashion also donates Bricks to help build schools in the producing communities. People over profit.

Fair, Individual pieces that are Kind to the Environment, take social Action and say Yes

Community of 20,000 celebrating kindness & wisdom

Wake Up projectMy gorgeous friend Leanne kindly sent me this community, knowing how much I’d love love love it!

They’re a ‘community of 20,000+ people celebrating kindness & wisdom in modern life.’ They explore a variety of ideas from compassion to creativity, mindfulness to business and the arts. Mouth of word has spread through their free kindness cards. Their founder Jono did his first kindness event in 2009 as a test to see if anyone would come. He was expecting a few but 400 turned up! They now put on workshops, special evenings, films and have a flagship business conference hoping to inspire kind and wise living.
What a bloody good idea, shame they’re based in Australia.

Why Kindness & Wisdom?

As Jono their founder would say the Dalai Lama gave us a hint when he said, “kindness is my religion”. Science and wisdom traditions point to mindfulness and kindness as key qualities for living with purpose, meaning & fulfilment – oh yes.

What events in the UK do you go to?

The problem – civil obedience

Matt Damon reads from Howard Zinn’s speech “The Problem is Civil Obedience” (November 1970) from Voices of a People's History on Vimeo.

‘This performance was part of “The People Speak, Live!” with Matt Damon and Lupe Fiasco at the Metro in Chicago, on January 31, 2012, produced by Voices of a People’s History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival.’

Anchoring – the power of our senses

From a very early age anchoring becomes part of our hard wiring, locked deep into our neurology. Those little neurons go crazy programming certain situations and how they make us feel. I remember being given a mixed CD from a family friend when I was about 10, Toto’s Africa always makes me feel a certain way.

Anchoring can be used to create responses, both good and bad. We can all find anchors and fire them to change the mood of ourselves and others, hopefully for the better. The more senses are engaged in an anchor (sound, smell, visual, taste, touch) the stronger the emotion. So pretty useful to be able to fire certain anchors before a presentation.

NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) can be used for personal development as a model for learning, tapping into our behavioural patterns and self-awareness, to create those positive anchors. It gets a lot of criticism and here’s a pretty good blog post about the pros and cons.

“Neuro-Linguistic Programming n. a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them; a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour.” – [Oxford English Dictionary]

Surely having some positive anchors can’t be a bad thing – being aware of what some of our triggers are and being mindful of them? I know certain tracks are a positive anchor for me, what are some of yours?

Suspended coffee – small random acts of kindness

‘Every once in a while an idea comes along with the potential to truly make the world a better place. Suspended Coffee is one of those ideas.’ #suspendedcoffees

I heard about this months ago and have been meaning to feature it. You walk into a coffee shop and instead of buying just one cup of coffee for you, you buy two, or more. One for yourself and one for someone in need.

The tradition began in the working-class cafés of Naples (about 100 years ago so the story goes). Someone who’d experienced good luck would order a ‘sospeso’. They’d pay the price of two coffees and one would be kept for someone who may need it. A caffè sospeso (suspended coffee).

The UK arm of coffee chain Starbucks signed up for a charity initiative based on the suspended coffee concept in April 2013. I know it’s Starbucks so slightly taints they idea! Starbucks said it would match the value of each suspended coffee with a cash donation to the Oasis charity. I guess they can afford to with all the money they should be paying for tax.

Other shops are expanding the idea to cover cookies and other food. The Facebook page in the UK has designed “Suspended Coffee Supporter” logos which shops can display on their doors so you know which are on board. Hopefully some shops would donate any money left over at the end of each month to a good cause, which may be a concern for sceptics who think shops may benefit.

Will you buy a suspended coffee?