Devin D. Thorpe's Blog
May 23, 2013
Guest post by Cordelia Manis of the Savii Group.
When Gina Manis-Anderson took her corporate cost cutting skills to form Savii Group, she knew she wanted to do more than just help companies increase their financial capital. She wanted to use her experience to help companies realize the importance of increasing their human and social capital as well. And she believes strongly that social capital is the key.
“A company’s philanthropic culture is a formidable differentiator in the marketplace. Positive social capital improves recruiting and retention of key talent, and helps to attract customers who make buying decisions in a socially responsible manner,” says Manis-Anderson. “Plus, it’s just the right thing to do for non-profits who face such steep challenges in fundraising in the current economic climate.” Research shows that non-profits are increasingly operating in crisis mode, with little or no budget for program expansion or emergencies. Manis-Anderson’s commitment to non-profit organizations inspired her to find a solution.
Relying on the innovation that made her a leader in expense management, she created the Partnership Pledge Program (P3) to bridge the gap that exists between non-profits and corporate donors. Formulated for both corporations and non-profits, the P3 strategy engages Savii Group’s expertise in freeing up capital companies didn’t know they had. This capital can be applied toward Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to increase the corporate value of for-profits and create sustainable donations for non-profit organizations.
Here’s how it works:
Utilizing an experienced team of Subject Matter Experts (SME’s), Savii Group provides a company with enhanced data, better benchmarks, and negotiating strategies to identify real savings and optimization in over 30 expense categories including; IT, Telecom, Employee Benefits, Payroll, Documents Management, Merchant Processing, CAM Audits, and Freight.
Savii Group finds money and frees up hidden capital in a company’s overhead and expenses.
Savii Group’s SME’s are only compensated when savings are found – they take a percentage of the realized savings when new agreements with the vendors and suppliers are implemented.
On every project, Savii Group and their SME’s each donate a portion of their fees to the company’s favorite cause and invites the company to also pledge a percentage of their new found savings – resulting in three potential new sources of sustainable funding for non-profits.
“Savii Group’s new P3 program makes it painless for corporations to become involved with non-profits and enables them to reclaim capital to grow their corporate social responsibility programs with a focused approach,” says Manis-Anderson, “All while creating sustainable, new revenue for the non-profits that need it so badly.”
Manis-Anderson is proud of the commitment Savii Group has made: they’ve set a million dollar goal for their Big Give program. With the pledges they have in the pipelines, they are confident it won’t be long until they reach that goal.
To learn more about how Savii Group’s P3 strategy can help your business visit www.saviigroup.com or call 760-456-9266.
May 22, 2013
Guest post by Shaun King, founder of HopeMob.
By now you have heard the news of the devastation caused by the tornado in Moore, OK. The stats are history in the making: a rating of EF5, winds 166 to 200 mph, an estimation of size to be at least two miles wide at one point as it moved through Moore. And while these stats are mind shattering, it’s the stories that are most heart breaking. 38,000 people without power. Vine videos from @GeminiTiger86 right in the midst of devastation. Highways completely shut down. An elementary school full of children demolished.
In the days and hours following natural disasters like this one, social and online platforms are critical tools not only for information sharing, but also for fundraising. Crowdfunding sites make it easier for people to donate to victims of tragedies, to help restore buildings and pay hospital bills, funeral costs, and more.
As soon as I heard of the tragedy in Oklahoma, I knew that I could mobilize a community on my crowdfunding website, HopeMob. We’re a mob of kind-hearted strangers who are banding together to raise money and awareness on HopeMob. HopeMob is the first site of its kind and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a mob of people bringing hope. The revolutionary part? It’s the first site in history to offer fee-free fundraising. While most sites charge between two and 15 percent service fees, HopeMob is not charging anything to users and, additionally, we are covering the transaction fees by going out and fundraising on our own from corporations and foundations.
Our initial plan to help was simple. We partnered with Convoy of Hope and aimed raise $15,000 in 7 days. Why 7 days? In these first 7 days the town of Moore, OK will be consumed with clearing out destruction and accessing their needs. Once those needs are known, Convoy of Hope will be able to give them the funds to help them rebuild.
Convoy of Hope has served more than 55 million people throughout the world through international children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response and partner resourcing. Year after year, they are lauded for their effectiveness and efficiency in mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers for community outreaches and during times of disaster response.
Leadership communicator Andy Stanley once said, “Do for one what you wish you could for everyone.” We know we can’t help everyone. But we can help SOMEONE. Fortunately, we’ve surpassed our goal, but naturally, we want to continue to raise as much money as we can over these next 7 days to help victims of this devastating tragedy. Join us in our effort to raise this money in the next 7 days. We believe in giving, we believe in you, and we believe in Oklahoma. Please visit the fundraising page for Moore tornado victims and donate $5, $10 or whatever you have. Share the link with your friends and family and join the mob of hope.
May 21, 2013
This is a guest post from Alex Binkley, a Harvard and Boston University educated corporate lawyer. He has worked for and run numerous small businesses throughout his life, ranging from a small local recycling company to a rowing shell manufacturer. But it was after spending years helping both startups and public companies build and grow that he really noticed a lack of options for small businesses that needed capital. He helped start Funding Community with the goal of helping businesses gain greater control over their own destiny.
My local New York City coffee shop has a problem… its espresso is good but not great. The owners are itching to improve, but they have a business to run and baristas to pay so they just cannot afford expensive improvements like a better espresso machine. The shop’s cash flow is solid, but because the business is relatively new it does not yet have reserves for major improvements. And if you have followed small business news over the past few years you likely know there is little chance a bank would lend to my coffee shop.
Personally, I want to see this business take off, but I am only one person and despite my best efforts I cannot fund these improvements buying $2 cups of coffee all day.
Like many Americans, I have worked hard and always saved my money. I put a little in the market, but most stayed in the bank where it would be safe and grow with interest. Recently, however, my hard-earned savings has been wallowing in a bank account earning just 0.5%. Meanwhile my bank has been turning around and lending my money to its other consumer clients at 23%!
This is why we started Funding Community, the first US crowdfunding platform for small business loans. Funding Community lets small businesses borrow money on better terms and allows individuals to lend to support these small businesses’ loans. If my coffee shop were to start a campaign to buy a $5,000 espresso machine Funding Community would post the loan campaign to the platform at www.fundingcommunity.com where just about anyone from across the United States could lend anywhere from $25 to $1,000! Each month the coffee shop repays principal and interest, and at the end of nine months its loan is fully repaid.
That’s not all a lender gets though. We ask each borrower on Funding Community to provide a “reward,” like 10% off, to its lenders. That way lenders like me who already support the borrower are encouraged to come in more often, while other local lenders are encouraged to become customers and new champions of the business. Because I am lending to local businesses I want to patronize I get the opportunity to shape my own community’s growth!
While we would love all borrowers to be fully funded locally, there may only be enough local interest to fund a portion of each loan. Because our primary goal is to find funding for these great local businesses we will not leave out someone in San Francisco just because she cannot take advantage of the discount at my coffee shop.
She can still lend to the business because she likes how the shop looks and operates and has found Funding Community to be a better place to put her money.
Funding Community is trying to change how individuals can shape the small business landscape of the United States, while doing better financially at the same time. By lending in Funding Community everyone can do well by doing good.
May 2, 2013
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the Milken Institute Global Conference 2013. For me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime (so far) experience that ranks high on my list. I wrote a piece for Forbes on some of the great panels on impact investing that I attended.
While Al Gore was there, I did not get a chance to visit with him.
By special arrangement, I was able to get an hour one-on-one with four-star General Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander of allied forces in Europe who ran for President in 2004.
In an upcoming article in Forbes, I’ll be writing more about my interview with him, but let me just say that he is an extraordinary person. He is as articulate off the cuff as anyone I’ve ever met and clearly as smart as they come.
General Clark serves on the advisory board to Vital Capital, which is led by Eytan Stibbe of Tel Aviv. Vital Capital has partnered with Impact Capital Strategies in the U.S. Eric Weinberg and David van Adelsberg joined Mr. Stibbe at the conference. They arranged for me to meet with the General.
General Clark was immediately impressed by Mr. Stibbe when they met in Milan years ago and immediately traveled with him to see his projects in Africa. Vital Capital is a large, private equity firm that does impact investing—investments made with a social impact objective—there in Africa. Vital has provided the equity for several billion dollars of affordable housing in Sub-Saharan Africa.How’s that for impact!
I’m eager to tell you the whole story, but you’ll have to wait. Next month I’ll be going to Africa to see the projects myself. When I return, I’ll write up my report in Forbes and perhaps do a longer report in a Kindle Single. I’ll also share thoughts and insights here—don’t worry.
April 29, 2013
This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting John Shavers, the founder of the Interethnic Health Alliance which is a small nonprofit serving the people of Uganda.
Originally, the organization was founded to serve Utah women in the prison system who had HIV/AIDS or were at risk for contracting and spreading it. When their state funding ran out, they refocused their efforts on Uganda and have been working there since.
Shavers, the gray-haired gentleman near the center of the photo of women supported by IHA microloans, is a clinical psychologist. He will leave in two weeks to Uganda for the 8th time in the past several years.
IHA describes its mission as follows:
OUR MISSION IS TO ASSIST THE RURAL COMMUNITES OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, PRIMARILY UGANDA, IN OBTAINING ADEQUATE HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION FOR THEIR CHILDREN & AN ADEQUATE WAGE. WE DO THIS THROUGH ENGAGING IN DIALOG’S WITH COMMUNITY MEMBERS AROUND ISSUES IDENTIFIED BY THE MEMBERS THEMSELVES. OUR CURRENT MAJOR INITIATIVES ARE; ASSISTANCE IN STARTING SELF-SUSTAINING BUSINESSES PROVIDING RESOURCES FOR SCHOOLS AND ORPHANAGES MITIGATING THE IMPACT OF DECLINING FUEL RESOURCES.
Presently, IHA is focused on five inititatives:
Micro loans to women-managed groups.
Clean water in rural schools.
Solar power and lights for rural schools.
Reusable hygiene kits for women.
Computers for refugee families.
It is always a pleasure to meet someone like Shavers, with a real passion for action. He is not content to stand by while others suffer.
April 26, 2013
Yesterday, I posted an article for Forbes about Rotary International, the global organization that sponsors local service clubs all around the world.
For the article, I connected with dozens of Rotarians from around the world who have been volunteering time and donating money to causes they believe in.
It was amazing to see the power of the organization. Rotary International has been leading the fight to exterminate polio around the world. When they started the effort in 1988 there were 125 countries where polio was still a threat; today there are three.
But the work of Rotary at the club level was the focus of my article. It was inspiring to see how this organization with millions of members around the world has the ability to identify a person who needs to have his car repaired and can’t pay for it—and then to pay for it—while at the same time having the organizational wherewithal to donate $1.5 million to build a new food bank.
Rotarians from my Salt Lake Club work in the Wasatch Community Gardens to provide fresh food for low income families.
It is clear that each club has its own culture and priorities, but over and over again I heard the Rotary motto repeated: “Service above Self.” This particular value is universal among Rotarians.
It appears to me that the current generation of professionals—those we call Gen X and Gen Y or Millennials are more focused on social good than any prior generation. They would love what Rotary is doing, but few are even aware.
While the average age at my club, the Salt Lake Rotary club, appears to be north of 65, there are some younger people involved. Not enough, however. If ever there were a natural home for people who believe in doing good regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other potential identifier, Rotary is that place.
Rotarians don’t wear funny hats—not that there is anything wrong with that. They don’t take secret oaths or use special symbols. They do openly pledge to treat others fairly and honestly and to build friendships with others in and out of Rotary. They also sing patriotic songs and, in America, recite the pledge of allegiance.
While the Rotarians I know are deeply patriotic, they are not in the least xenophobic. Instead, they are globally minded citizens of the world whose passion to serve is fueled by a genuine hope for peace.
If you know a Rotarian, count yourself lucky. Ask her if you can join her at the next meeting. If you don’t know one, just show up at the next meeting. They’ll be excited to have you!
April 22, 2013
April 17, 2013
April 14, 2013
As I walked past the Rose Wagner theater on Broadway, I saw a homeless guy apparently sobbing and begging as the patrons filed out of the show. My reaction wasn’t any different than the theater patrons; I thought he was putting on a pretty good performance.
Nevertheless, having walked past him, I felt impressed to turn around and ask him if he wanted some food, to which he responded, “I want some money to buy some food.”
Again, I asked, “Do you want some food?”
Sensing, I suppose, that he wasn’t going to get any money from me nor from the theater patrons, he said, “yes.”
We walked a few blocks to McDonalds where he ordered three cheeseburgers, a large milk shake, two fruit pies, and a sweet tea.
As we walked toward the McDonalds and while we waited for the order to come up, we visited. He started his story by saying, “Have you ever met a mental health patient?” He didn’t wait for an answer before continuing, “Well, I am one.”
He went on to tell me his name was Andy. His speech was hard to understand. That was partly due to a cut in his mouth that he said he got from eating garbage from dumpsters.
He said he had two daughters, ages six and nine when he last saw them. He split with his wife, he said, when he found her doing drugs with the girls watching. The girls, he says, are now in foster care in Seattle.
When I asked how old the girls were now he said he didn’t know.
“How long has it been since you saw them?” I asked.
Andy also explained in ragged detail that didn’t provide anything like a complete narrative how he’d been kicked out of the homeless shelter for a benign reason having something to do with bed bugs.
As we waited for his dinner order, he asked me to wait and talk to him. I agreed and we visited for about ten minutes until his order came up.
As we waited and chatted the night manager emerged from the back of the restaurant; Andy greeted him like they were old friends. The night manager responded, clearly recognizing Andy though not calling him by name.
When the food came up, I helped him get it all to his seat. I then explained that I would now leave. He got angry, displaying a sense of feeling betrayed.
It was an awkward moment for me. I said, “I’m sorry that you don’t think this food is enough, but I have to go.”
And, I did go. I went home to my high-rise condo to sleep in my sumptuous king size bed with my beautiful wife.
The next morning I arose and went for a run. Near the end of my run, half a block east of the Rose Wagner theater where I’d found him the night before, I found Andy outside of the Peery Hotel eating what appeared to be a fresh, hot breakfast burrito.
As I ran by, I yelled, “Hi Andy” and waved.
He responded with a quick “Hi buddy.” He seemed much happier than I’d left him the night before, but I’m not sure he recognized me.
Later that morning, I was walking along Main Street and passed the relatively sheltered entrance to the old Utah movie theaters between First and Second South streets, a favorite spot for the homeless to camp for the night. I noticed a cheeseburger still in its wrapper and a small pile of McDonalds wrappers, including two empty cartons for fruit pies.
As much as I felt I’d done for Andy I can’t help but think I should have done more. What do you think? What more should I have done for Andy?
April 7, 2013
Live Video Interview with 3 Teenage Change Agents Using Crowdfunding
We’ll be live with these three great teens at 4:00 Eastern on Monday, April 8, 2013. Don’t miss it!
Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison: An aspiring astronaut who is crowdfunding on RocketHub to go to Russia and participate in a space launch.
Logan Gardner: Founder of Kids for Kids, an organization that helps teens with social entrepreneurship as a means to teach youth to be successful in life and business.
Jared Kleinert: Founder of Synergist, a crowdfunding site focused on social good.