L’OCCITANE: More than Almond Lotion.

One of my guilty pleasures is french beauty retailer L’OCCITANE’s Amande (almond) line. Specifically, I love their Almond Delicious Paste Body Scrub which is described as, “a delicious blend of almond butter and almond oil, infused with crushed almond shells and sugar crystals, this exfoliating butter offers perfect exfoliation for the entire body.” To me, it’s like marzipan for the skin – AH.MAZE.ING. Anyhow, more importantly, they just did something good and that trumps all.

L’OCCITANE just donated $120,000 to Dress for Success, a gift that will help up to 2,400 women begin their journey to achieving their professional goals in 2016. The company had pledged to donate $10 for every gift set purchased during the 2015 holiday season (up to $120,000) to Dress for Success to help prepare women for job interviews.

Additionally, the company has been a long-time advocate for the economic independence of women supporting women’s leadership programs in West Africa for over 20 years. In 2015, the brand’s North American headquarters partnered with Dress for Success to empower women on a local level and deepen the brand’s commitment to female empowerment on a global scale.

Since 1997, Dress for Success has helped more than 850,000 women throughout the world achieve their professional goals through career-advancing services. From suiting to mock interviews to employment retention and money management programs, the nonprofit helps provide women with the tools they need to secure a job and become a successful employee.

Check out this clip which highlights the L’OCCITANE partnership with Dress for Success in Canada.

#GivingTuesday: Here to Stay.

In 2012, I wrote my first post on #GivingTuesday. Then, it seemed like a great idea, although it was a tad gimmicky. Fast forward to today where the likes of Rue La La (my addiction) are sending emails regarding their involvement in the national day of giving.

Background: In 2012, the 92nd Street Y in New York City, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation and influencers from the worlds of nonprofits, foundations and business, asked a simple question: Could a day devoted to giving back compete effectively with the likes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Four years later, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Giving Tuesday is the perfect embodiment of Americans’ willingness to come together in the spirit of generosity. According to the Giving Tuesday website, since its initiation, there have been more than 30,000 partners across 68 countries participating in the day and a nearly 500 percent increase in online charitable donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

In 2013 #GivingTuesday continued to gain momentum, with 10,000 partners in the US and 46 countries around the world. According to data from Blackbaud, the volume of online donations has increased 270% since the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2011 (before #GivingTuesday began). Rue

For non-profit organizations, #GivingTuesday should pivot off of the ways in which retailers, such as Rue , promote themselves in preparation for the biggest shopping day of the year. They should:

  • Create a sense of urgency.  A 24-hour window can nudge supporters to make a contribution.
  • Scarcity drives action. If a challenge grant or matching gift has been pledged and is good only through a set deadline, donors will be much more compelled to make donations within that time-frame.‎
  • “Mobilize” your giving.‎ If your giving page is not mobile friendly, even the most well-intentioned prospective donors will lose their enthusiasm if they can’t act immediately.
  • Take a long hard look at your organization’s giving page and make sure that it mirrors the look and feel of your organization’s brand. According to Network for Good, charities that have a resonant brand presence on their giving pages raise an average 138-percent more on Giving Tuesday than those using generic donation pages.

And don’t forget the power of a great story. An organization’s unique story is a must as this separates it from all of the others who are participating.

To support that, this year Giving Tuesday is launching #MyGivingStory, spearheaded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While six non-profit organizations will receive grants of up to $5,000, #MyGivingStory is more a vehicle for engaging donors on the most personal of levels, encouraging them to share their reasons for becoming involved with and supporting those causes nearest to their hearts. Between now and November 24th, individuals can visit #MyGivingStory on Facebook and submit a story of a time they made a gift to a nonprofit organization they gave to and why. Fifteen organizations that receive the most “Likes” will be reviewed by a panel of judges, who will select the final six winning non-profits.

Conference Bliss: Social Good Summit 2015 – My Top Vid Picks

The Social Good Summit, a two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world, was held on Sunday and yesterday. Described as, “a dynamic community of global leaders and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time,” I learned so much in such a short amount of time and was deeply inspired. The theme, #2030NOW, challenges us all to consider, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” The consideration at the core of each chat was how technology can be used to make the world a better place. Here are some of my favorite i-views from the convening:

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Social Media ResponderInside Out

What’s Up With September 26th?

It’s a damn shame that in a few days we will hit October 1st. Time is flying! For now, it seems like people, namely celebrities and some cause marketing fashionistas, are holding on to what remains of the year by way of 9.26.15.

First up: Beyoncé, Coldplay, Pearl Jam will headline the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in NY. Coldplay Front-man, Chris Martin, serves as creative director for the event and is fresh from his visit to India with The Global Poverty Project, where he played a surprise gig last week. The festival will take place on New York’s Great Lawn in Central Park tomorrow. There will also be an one-hour special from the concert set to air on Sunday, September 27 on NBC and September 28 on BBC One in the UK. Other media partners include MSNBC, live-streaming host YouTube (sponsored by T-Mobile), iHeartRadio (an audio live-stream will be broadcast on iHeartRadio.com) and Tidal, which will also stream the audio of the concert on Tidal.com as well as via the Tidal app. Free tickets were available for those who went to globalcitizenfestival.com, and pledged to take an “Action Journey” — which included making phone calls, volunteering, donating clothing at H&M or participating in another effort to encourage the U.S. State Department to dedicate 50% of its foreign aid budget to the world’s poorest countries.

The tickets are all “sold out” 😦

But you can catch the live-stream below 🙂

On a smaller scale (which is just as important), clothier Eileen Fisher will see to it that 10% of proceeds from 9.26.15 go to various local charities which support women and girls.

Eileen Fisher annually awards Activating Leadership Grants of $5,000 or more to grass-roots organizations which share its goals of activating leadership. To date, the company has awarded nearly $2 million to 56 organizations via the grant program since its inception in 2010. Brick and mortar stores also hosts special events twice a year where a percentage of proceeds are donated to a local nonprofit organization chosen by local employees. Those interested in becoming a recipient in that program simply contact the store directly. Learn more about the organizations that will be supported by clicking below.

September is ending rather nicely.

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Miguel Sings for the Rent.

Last week I got a chuckle when I read reports that NBA Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said he has roommates because NYC rent is costly.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Hollis-Jefferson—who will make $1.33 million this upcoming season as a Brooklyn Nets small forward – said that he was shocked to find that his salary gets slashed to about half, when you account for taxes, and he’s also flabbergasted at the sky-high rents that New York City has to offer.

“You can live in a nice, three-bedroom condo with all that in Dallas for, like, 2,000 bucks,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “Three-bedroom, three-bathroom in New York, you’re paying eight grand. It’s ridiculous.”

Indeed and welcome to my world.

OK, so I must have been living under a rock as earlier this month, Miguel also got in on the issue of renter’s woes. According to Rolling Stone, the singer delivered an intimate, acoustic three-song set in the living room of a Detroit family as part “Concerts for the 1st,” a new series from Make Room. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness of low-income families struggling to pay rising rents while facing wage stagnation.

Miguel’s performance was the fourth in Make Room’s “Concert for the 1st” series, which began in May with Carly Rae Jepsen opened performing in the living room of a Los Angeles family. The series has also featured singer Timothy Bloom in Paterson, New Jersey and rock outfit John and Jacob in Nashville. Each concert is accompanied by a short documentary about the host family, as well as links to directly donate to them.

Well, alright then!

Find out more about Make Room here and see Miguel perform below.

McDonald’s Rallies for International Day of Peace.

Thanks to Burger King, you may (or may not) be aware that today is the United Nations’ annual International Day of Peace.

If you haven’t heard of the beef (pun intended), about one month ago, Burger King challenged McDonald’s to team up and create a “McWhopper,” a combination of the fast-food chains’ hamburgers, that would help raise money for Peace One Day. McDonald’s rebuffed the challenge in messages on Facebook and Twitter, but they would, “be in touch.”

#shadyfries.

What matters most is that McDonald’s has gathered a number of like-minded organizations to raise money to help the United Nations’ food program respond to the migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East.

The company, along with companies like DreamWorks Animation, MasterCard and Facebook, will donate paid television airtime or access to digital media to promote the World Food Program, including through the use of a 30-second animated commercial narrated by the actor Liam Neeson.

The World Food Program is under increasing pressure to help respond to the millions of Syrians, Iraqis and others displaced from areas of conflict. Tens of thousands of migrants have fled to Europe, which has scrambled to respond to the influx. The World Food Program estimates that it will need more than $7 billion to deal with the various humanitarian crises this year, but expects to receive closer to $4 billion through its usual channels, which primarily include government aid.

In the new commercial, Mr. Neeson tells viewers that wars around the world have resulted in more refugees now than any time since World War II.

Check out the spot, which is pretty powerful, below.

A New Day for Apple and Philanthropy.

Apple is notorious for leading the way when it comes to innovation. They are also notorious for not being overly generous when it comes to giving when compared to how much money the company pulls in. That is, until now.

Yesterday, the widow of Steve Jobs, Laurencallingideas_proxy Powell Jobs announced that she will starting a $50 million to create high schools with new approaches to education. According to an interview published in the New York Times, Ms. Powell Jobs says, “The system was created for the work force we needed 100 years ago.Things are not working the way we want it to be working. We’ve seen a lot of incremental changes over the last several years, but we’re saying, ‘Start from scratch.’ ”

The initiative is called XQ: The Super School Project and the campaign is meant to inspire teams of educators and students, as well as leaders from other sectors, to come up with new plans for high schools. Over the next several months, the teams will submit plans that could include efforts like altering school schedules, curriculum and technologies. By fall next year a team of judges will pick five to 10 of the best ideas to finance.

The XQ project is the highest-profile project yet of the Emerson Collective, the group that Ms. Powell Jobs uses to finance her philanthropic projects.

Ms. Powell Jobs said that while she was committed to ensuring that the new schools are public, she was unsure whether they would be charter schools. She pointed out that she, like most Americans, is a graduate of a public high school. Plans for a national tour to collect ideas for the project do not include a stop at her alma mater in New Jersey, West Milford High School.

Learn more here.

What I Think About, “Think It Up.”

I am rarely home on Friday night but after a doosie of a week (more on that another time), I nestled on my couch, flipped on the TV (yes, I still own one) and was surprised to see that Hollywood was hard at work towards a better tomorrow simultaneously on all of the major networks.

Celebrities including Jessica Biel, Kristen Bell and Austin Mahone all came together this evening in Santa Monica, Calif. for the Think It Up telecast, a fundraiser aimed to support students and teachers across the nation.

Justin Bieber kicked off the hour-long event with a performance of his new song “What Do You Mean?” before handing it off to a number of A-listers who discussed the current state of education, and what everyone can do to improve it.

Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Garner, Wilmer Valderrama and Halle Berry were on hand to reminisce about their own classroom days, and Matthew McConaughey took viewers inside U.S. schools working to unlock student potential.

ThinkItUp-AboutImage-1920x1080-KOGwyneth Paltrow discussed the “need to empower teachers to help students become creative thinkers and problem solvers,” and Eric Stonestreet encouraged students to “be bold.”

Audience members were brought to their feet as Big Sean closed the show with a moving rendition of “One Man Can Change the World.”

Think It Up is an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation charitable organization, created to bring broad cultural attention to the urgency of improving the learning experience in America. The national education initiative will seek to re-frame the public discussion about education, create a culture of excitement about learning everywhere in America and build a sense of optimism about the potential of education in classrooms across the country.

Overall, it was a good show and informative too. I love the idea of tapping into celeb power for good. I do wish that just as the networks were taken over there was a more prominent social media component to the fundraiser. That was noticeably missing and would have been appropriate given the subject-matter. Perhaps next time? Learn more here.

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Over a year ago, icy water inundated the Internet in what may have been the online equivalent of the largest chain letter ever—the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In endless Facebook videos, people hoisted buckets filled with ice water, announced their philanthropic intentions, and upended the buckets over their heads. Breathless, they would nominate a few friends, demanding that they do the same upon penalty of a charitable donation to ALS.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was immensely successful—a break-the-Internet phenomenon that spread all the way up to President Obama. But with this barnstorming success came an undercurrent of critical skepticism. Were people actually following through with donations? Was the campaign saying it was better to be cold and wet than a charitable giver? Was the stunt overshadowing the actual disease? Was the whole thing actually raising meaningful awareness? Twelve months down the road, here’s where things stand according to Charity Navigator.

How much money did the campaign bring in?

The national chapter of the ALS Association (ALSA) reports that, the challenge brought in a staggering $115 million. Participants also donated an additional $13 million to the association’s regional branches. As you might expect, these kind of numbers were unheard of for the ALSA—the charity’s Form 990 filings show they brought in $23.5 million in 2013. GETTY_82114_IceBUcket

How much has been spent so far, and on what?

The ALSA reports it has spent around $47 million of the $115 million raised thus far, with two-thirds allocated toward research in five different areas: gene discovery, disease model development, identification of biomarkers, clinical trials, and drug development. Some 20% of the money has been spent on patient and community services; the remaining 11% has gone to education, fundraising, and processing fees.

Is it bad that only $47 million of the $115 has been spent so far?

Charity Navigator gives a firm no. Since ALS is a disease with no known cure, the fight against ALS is largely focused on research. Eradication is more of a priority than palliative care, seeing as the disease is 100% fatal. In interviews with Charity Navigator, multiple chapters of the ALSA described spending plans of up to three years, because research often gets paid out over multiple years. And since one study frequently begets another, smart spending is even more important.
What concrete accomplishments can ALSA point to?

Direct patient and community services have produced most measurable results, since patient care is immediate and concrete. For example, the Palm Beach Post reported that the ALS Association Florida Chapter was able to hire a bilingual regional care manager.

Some progress has been made thanks partly to Ice Bucket Challenge research funding. Working with Ice Bucket money, researchers from Johns Hopkins University identified a protein that fails in the cells of most ALS patients, and showed that if they repair the protein, the damaged cell can heal.

It can take years or even decades for researchers to find scientifically proven treatments, let alone cures for deadly diseases, so donors may have to be patient to see what other results the ALSA-funded research yields.

Lots of money was raised, but what about awareness?

During the campaign, various people raised concerns that participants were more more caught up in the viral sensation than the cause, giving less money than a typical donor and often without even knowing much about the disease. There are two kind of donors, those who are deeply engaged in the cause, giving over many years, and those who respond to the social media wave.

Even if most donors don’t know what the letters “ALS” stand for or anything about the illness, it’s hard to look a $115 million gift horse in the mouth.

It’s Time to #ThankYourMentor

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with 380 million members worldwide, and my FAVORITE social network, is leveraging the platform and community to mobilize members to mentor. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) has teamed up with LinkedIn to elevate the impact of mentoring relationships and call on more adults to mentor young people.  LinkedIn_Banner

MENTOR’s research in a report called The Mentoring Effect found that young adults who were at risk for falling off track but who had a mentor were 55 percent more likely to go on to college and 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. Yet, one in three young people is reaching age 19 without ever connecting to a mentor either formally through a program or informally through family, community or social networks.

Right now, on mentor.linkedin.com, L‎inkedIn is featuring member stories that demonstrate the potential of mentoring relationships both in the workplace and in communities between adults and young people. LinkedIn Influencers, a select group of leaders in business and industry who publish articles on the platform, will also focus their upcoming posts on the topic of mentoring.

As a key player in this effort, MENTOR is providing expertise on ethe key ingredients of quality youth mentoring as well as thousands of volunteer mentoring opportunities for LinkedIn members to connect with. These opportunities are sourced from MENTOR’s Mentoring Connector, which is the only national database of mentoring programs that are screened for safety and effectiveness using the national standards for quality youth mentoring.