Thursday, July 15, 2010

Think Responsibly

Back in the day, businesses were only concerned with one thing: profit. In recent years, these same businesses have realized both the benefit to their company and their community when they get involved. Sponsorships, food and donation drives and fun runs are all great examples of such opportunities, and we would never discourage taking that approach.

But, with the advent of the social media craze and the wide-spread acceptance and support of altruistic endeavors, helping out is suddenly one of the best ways to showcase your creativity and make a significant difference. Some really amazing concepts led by large and small organizations across the nation exemplify this new mentality, and while they’re all unique in their own right, they also share a common strategy which has made them so successful.

Chipotle wants your junk
Premise: As part of Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity” campaign, they are claiming there’s no junk in their food. They also believe there shouldn’t be junk in school food, and they’re asking customers to get rid of their junk as well… that is, junk mail. Participants can forward their junk mail to, and for every 100,000 emails received, they’ll donate $10,000 to The Lunch Box, a NPO with an aligned cause.
Consumer feel-good factor: Consumers get to help the cause in an active, non-monetary way (you’ll notice this is incredibly important in increasing participation). They can feel like they’re contributing to the greater good without busting their budget or taking a lot of time.
Consumer me-me factor: Clean email boxes make this cause a quadruple win for Chipotle, The Lunch Box, kids’ health AND the folks at home who want to increase the size of their “special parts” and get cheap drugs from China.
Easy factor: You can do this without thinking or getting out of your chair, and that means you might actually peel your eyes away from “work.”
New and exciting factor: We’ve never seen this clever concept, and we bet you haven’t either. Donating junk mail? It’s genius.

Pepsi Refresh Project
Premise: This on-going, monthly project allows participants to submit their ideas (they take 1,000/month) for making the world a better place, and then anyone can go to their website and vote. There are several categories – health, arts & culture, neighborhoods, etc. – and different grant sizes depending on the idea-givers’ resources. Winners receive grants ranging from $5K-$25K.
Consumer feel-good factor: Tons of people have ideas about the types of changes they want to make… if only they had the money. Now there’s a chance! And for the people who don’t want to take all that on, hey, just vote! Again, active participation in a non-monetary way.
Consumer me-me factor: Non-profits, schools, businesses and regular people have their names attached to the idea, and anyone that visits the website will see… aka free publicity on a pretty big platform. And of course, if they win, they get to start their own project!
Easy factor: Submitting an idea and voting takes seconds. Literally, seconds.
New and exciting factor: Each month the game changes, and every day new votes are counted. Plus, the concept is just pure good.

Shade of Hope
Premise: This one’s local. The dynamic duo of the Houston Furniture Bank and is hosting a community arts fair to raise money, awareness and support for The Furniture Bank, an organization that turns houses into homes for the less-fortunate.
Consumer feel-good factor: Being at the event shows your support for the community, The Furniture Bank and the local art scene.
Consumer me-me factor: Participants get to hang out, view amazing art and listen to live music. FOR FREE.
Easy factor: Show up. All you have to do is show up.
New and exciting factor: First of all, we didn’t even know furniture banks existed, so that’s super cool. Secondly, it’s an EVENT. Filling up our calendars with hip, artsy stuff is always exciting. And, if you check out their website you’ll see there are some pretty interesting activities happening that day (artists are painting shades!)

Naturally, Black Sheep is a big fan of these creative causes. Heck, we’ve even had some success with our own. Keep in mind the factors we mentioned (feel-good, me-me, easy and new and exciting), and you too could be on your way to generating a positive impact… and showing off your innovative excellence too!

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