Buy a Lady a Drink.

to launch an eye-catching campaign to halt one of the most onerous tasks faced by women in developing nations: the hours-long daily route of hauling water, usually by foot, over long distances.

Obtaining water is a real issue – here in the US and worldwide. The statistics don’t lie: at least 760 million people lack access to safe, secure and clean water. Women and children spend about 140 million hours a day collecting water. And while mobile technology has opened more economic doors, one disturbing fact is that more people worldwide own a cell phone than own a toilet. Stella Artois’ campaign, which enlists Water.org’s founders Matt Damon and Gary White, is a step in raising awareness about this massive problem.

The campaign started with Stella Artois donating $1.2 million to the cause. The company is raising additional funds through the sales of artistic limited-edition beer glasses. Water.org says the purchase of one glass, at $12, is enough to provide one person clean drinking water for five years. As of now the 20,000 put up for sale in the U.S. have completely sold out.

Water.org already has a strong track record of providing market-based solutions to the lack of clean water worldwide. The NGO has focused on microfinance programs that lend assistance to projects such as building private toilets to gaining access to municipal water taps. As of last fall, Water.org has invested US$10.6 million in almost 450,000 loans across nine countries. Considering the fact water scarcity is one of the biggest threats to global economic and political stability, more efforts such as this Stella Artois-Water.org partnership need to be supported.

Check out one of several videos which highlight what women and children endure in securing water for their daily needs below:

 

Ad Love: Colgate’s Every Drop Counts.

Most of us take running water for granted. Colgate wants you to stop it. Stop it now, dammit.

Recently, the brand released the full 30-second spot which will air on Superbowl Sunday, February 7. You won’t find any Colgate products in the ad. Instead, the spot discusses a larger issue—the importance of saving water.

The commercial opens on a man leaving the faucet running as he brushes his teeth. It then notes that when we leave the tap on, even if only for a short period of time, we waste up to four gallons of water each time. The spot tells viewers that four gallons of wasted water is more than some people get in one week.

The campaign uses the hashtag #EveryDropCounts, and asks viewers to use the hashtag as a way to signify their pledge to conserve water when they brush.

Take a look:

Viola Davis and the Vaseline Healing Project

I don’t know about you, but one of the things which irks me most is having dry hands, lips or legs and not having anything to help the matter. There have been times when I’ve left the house, gotten to the train and looked down at my ankles and realized that I neglected to lotion them or my lips are super-dry and I reach into my purse to find that my lip-balm was left at home. The horror is so deep that I will head to the nearest CVS to purchase replacements. Not having these items for a day is uncomfortable. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live without them.

It turns out that for some, not having emollients such as Vaseline is, in fact, a matter of life or death.

In 2014, Samer Jaber and Grace Bandow, both doctors, returned from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where tens of thousands of displaced Syrians have settled after escaping merciless violence in their war-torn country, and wrote a joint essay about their experience. In the article,  they revealed that countless refugees they treated needed relief from severe skin problems that could be remedied by simply applying Vaseline.

Vaseline publicly launched an initiative with Direct Relief, an international medical aid organization, to get petroleum jellies and lotions to people displaced by natural disasters or humanitarian crises. Their goal is to heal the skin of 5 million people by 2020.

The brand has already donated 1 million jars of its product worldwide through Direct Relief in 2015 and sponsored dermatological missions to Kenya, the Philippines and Jordan last year. This year, the company plans to return to Jordan, as well as India, Nepal and South Africa.

As part of its Vaseline Healing Project, the company is also putting together virtual relief kits to supplement its jelly and lotion donations. Anyone can contribute to pay for pre-selected items to fill the kits with other modest medical supplies such as thermometers, emergency blankets, soap and gauze.

Vaseline also has implemented a year-long, one-for-one promotion. For every jar of Vaseline jelly or lotion sold, the company will donate two cents, up to a $1 million, to the project.

The brand has also tapped award-winning actress Viola Davis as the spokesperson for the campaign. Check it out:

Netflix Gives $100 Mil to Support Education

Netflix founder and chief executive Reed Hastings, a longtime supporter of charter schools, is creating a $100 million foundation for education, he announced on his Facebook page earlier in the week.

The Hastings Fund launched with grants totaling $1.5 million to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and UNCF scholarship funds, donations meant to help minority students access college.

According to the fund’s website, the aim is to, “partner with communities to significantly increase the number of students who have access to rich and holistic educational experiences.”  netflixlogowide

The fund’s chief executive is Neerav Kingsland, a charter-school proponent who previously led New Schools for New Orleans. The nonprofit played a key role in shaping the city’s post-Hurricane Katrina educational system, in which more than 90 percent of children attend charter schools.

Hastings joins the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, tech billionaires interested in using their money to improve education. Critics have accused them of using their money to reshape education according to their own ideas, circumventing the democratic process.

Find out more about the Hastings Fund here.

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.

Ad Love: A Not So Joyous Holiday

The holiday season usually brings forth images of lights, smiles and abundant holiday cheer. Rarely would one consider the reality of domestic violence.

“The Window Project,” which, from Dec. 6-13, appears in the window of the Untitled & Co. store in Toronto’s Fashion District. The project was made for the Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH), in partnership with the Yellow Brick House.

From a distance, the display looks l, “normal.” A family sits at table in Christmas sweaters, surrounded by  decorations. Moments in, the man’s hand flips upward in a disturbingly recognizable gesture; the woman’s upper body reflexively pulls back.

Levels of domestic abuse and suicide spike dramatically over the holiday season, the video claims. Per Yellow Brick House, transitional shelters see a 30 percent average rise in support calls. Window shoppers can stop the abuse, halting the display for 60 seconds at a time, by texting a donation of $5 to OAITH. This money will fund support for women and families impacted in Canada.

This is an excellent idea. All to often we focus on only holiday cheer. While I love a big cup of cheer and will have a few rounds with the best of them, it’s important to take a look at the reason for the season beyond the superficial.

#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.

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.

#UberSpringCleaning.

We have all been there: we dutifully pack up the jeans that we haven’t worn in years and other items that have lived in our closets for years and promise to take them to Goodwill. For me, the nearest location is 3 subway stops from my house. The last thing I want to do is drag a hulking bag of clothing down into the subway and back out again.  Sadly, most of my donations end up being trashed.

Turns out, I’m not alone. Most unwanted clothing in the United States gets thrown in the trash. According to The Atlantic, Americans buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980, and textile trash grew by 40 percent from 1999 to 2009. Americans recycle or donate only 15 percent of clothing, and in turn 10.5 million tons of textiles a year end up in landfills. This makes textiles one of the least recyclable materials that are reusable, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Less than 16 percent of the more than 14 million tons of textile waste was recycled in 2014.

Too bad giving away stuff isn’t as easy as it seems.This past Saturday, Uber partnered with Goodwill to come to the rescue.  uber-goodwill-spring-clean

Users of the mobile application in more than fifty US cities opened the application to find a new “GIVE” option, available only on May 2. Customers could use the feature to summon an SUV to pick up bagged clothes, which they took to the nearest Goodwill, free of charge.

In addition to major US cities where Uber has a large presence, the spring cleaning initiative was in cities such as Detroit, Dallas, Denver, and Miami, among others. The nationwide promotion between Uber and Goodwill was built off a previous successful spring cleaning initiative in New York last year, and another clothing drive in Boston and San Francisco last fall.

There were some hiccups. For example, a few of my friends reported that they kept getting, “No cars available,” messages. Also, Uber didn’t take full advantage of their social media resources to promote the initiative – most learned about it at the last minute via traditional media.

All that aside, I still believe the idea is a great one. Uber has huge brand awareness and resources that greatly benefit Goodwill and the initiative makes it fairly simple for people to give. I would love to see the likes of Blue Apron and Nature Box provide similar services. Imagine being able to donate your weekly box instead of, ‘skipping’ it?! #Awesome.

#RaceTogether – So Many Lessons, So Little Time.

There are hundreds of articles everyday that encourage us to explore our passions, live boldly and shy away from the ordinary. I am learning that being a passionate person isn’t easy. What’s missing is the point that oftentimes being passionate can be tough. There will be those who will fight you every step of the way, ridicule you and try their best to stop you. In essence, there will be haters.  3044124-inline-i-2-starbuckss-race-together-why-the-naysayers-have-it-all-wrong

Howard Schultz has a lot of haters. Starbuck’s market value is about $72 billion at present. Additionally, Schultz is passionate about the company being one with values. He makes sure part-time employees get company-sponsored health care, the company’s early stance in giving benefits to same-sex partners and grants stock options to baristas. In recent years, he has tried to use his voice — and Starbucks’ footprint, as he likes to call it — to help not just his employees but the country. All the while, people have hated and criticized.

Last month, Schultz started something he called Starbucks’ Race Together campaign, suggesting that baristas write #RaceTogether on coffee cups, and see where that led. It backfired. He was mocked for, being a well-off white guy who was tackling a subject that was above his head and was inappropriate for a corporation.

Props needs to be given. The fact is, he is willing to stand for more than quarterly profits. So far, he has held 10 forums for employees to speak their mind on race relations. He has promised that Starbucks will hire 10,000 youths who are neither in school nor in the work force. He is going to open stores in disadvantaged neighborhoods, including in Ferguson, Mo. All of his initiatives are geared toward one ultimate goal: to re-establish the American dream. He wants future generations to have the same chances he had.

There are lessons for corporate America in what Howard Schultz is doing. More than that, there are lessons for us all in how to fearlessly take a stand for what you believe in.