A Dreambean Saturday Afternoon

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Drinks. Cookies. A live pianist. Of course it wouldn’t be a Bright Endeavors open house without its large assortment of Dreambean candles out on display.

Recycled Bottle Candles

This past Saturday, Bright Endeavors opened its doors  to the public showcasing their great variety of candles handmade by women in their program. For those who may not already know, Bright Endeavors is a nonprofit social enterprise committed to helping inner city, homeless and at-risk young women, between the ages of 16 – 25, gain the necessary skills to become self-sufficient, successful adults. The money made from producing candles goes towards life and job skills training to help improve the self-sufficiency of these women.

Sure the candles help support a great cause but there are also some great ideas behind the candles!

One selection offered by Bright Endeavors were candles made in recycled wine, beer and soda bottles. Each candle was made with a soy wax inside of the bottom halves of these recycled bottles. The soy wax is water soluble so once you are finished with the candle, you can wash out the glass and use it as a drinking glass. Talk about recyclable!

Flower Pot Candles

While on the topic of recyclable goods, one other candle promoted green usage. These candles were held in flower pots made from recycled rice hulls. Not only were the pots made from something recyclable but after the candle was finished, they could be used as normal flower pots. If you chose to throw it away instead, the pots were completely bio-degradable, which also made it that much more green-friendly.

As a result of the open house, Bright Endeavors sold enough product to support 90 hours of quality training and mentoring for their homeless/at-risk women. It was a Saturday afternoon well spent.

Check out Bright Endeavors at www.brightendeavors.org or follow @brightendeavors on Twitter!

Tweeting for Good

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[tweetmeme] Social media’s rapid growth has been no secret to anyone here of late. In fact, within the last year, social media has seen a traffic increase of 62%…a trend that doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. With growth, it has evolved in functionality as well. Starting out as a way to keep in touch with friends, it has blossomed into a unique and somewhat cost-efficient marketing tool for businesses. Even with no clear, tangible ROI, businesses haven’t shied away from jumping on the social media bandwagon.

So it’s apparent that social media, Twitter more specifically, is being used to drive more business for companies. In addition to increasing a profit margin, Twitter has also proven to be an effective tool to help better the world we live in.

How has this been accomplished in 140 characters or less?

Many individuals and/or organizations have used Twitter as a fundraising tool for various causes. Most recently, it has been used to fight cancer and fund more research. @Drew, cancer patient and creator of the website Blame Drew’s Cancer, recently put his Twitter username up for auction, donating all his proceeds to the Livestrong foundation for cancer research. The Price is Right host Drew Carey (@DrewonTV) made a large bid and challenged the Twitterverse to help him reach 1 million followers. In return he would donate $1 million to cancer research.

The companies MillerCoors and eBay also sponsored #beatcancer, a 24 hour experiment in social media attempting to draw the most tweets on a topic in that time period…ever. Donating one cent per hashtag, the effort set a Guiness World Record and effectively helped raise $70,000 towards cancer research.

Other socially responsible organizations have seen substantial amounts of exposure via Twitter. Most of these organizations, nonprofits nor social enterprise groups don’t have the cash to spend on traditional forms of marketing for their causes. They’ve seen success too. Most people want to feel like they are part of something good and a simple follow on Twitter is one way people are able to connect.

The exposure has helped these organizations receive support they normally would not have. Last Thanksgiving the group Epic Change hosted “Tweetsgiving,” a 48-hr fundraising effort for funds to help a school in Tanzania. The goal was to raise $10, 000. The result? $11,000. Over 98% of that money came from donors who had not previously supported their organization. This simple viral fundraising campaign has potential to have beneficial long term results, attracting hundreds of new donors that could potentially help in the future.

Including ourselves, several of our partner organizations have established presences on Twitter including @womensbean, @brightendeavors and @divinechocolate. With the help of followers, all these social enterprise groups hope to gain more support in order to change more lives. How are you tweeting for good?

Better Business With Social Responsibility

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To say that a corporation taking the initiative to become socially responsible is a “good idea” would be a solid understatement. Sure, giving back gives all of us a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, but what’s in it for the giver? True giving is generally done with the attitude (or at least should be) of not expecting anything in return. However, a company that gives back will reap many benefits in return.

What’s one major benefit in corporations engaging in social responsibility? Increased employee engagement. If a company is perceived by its employees to be socially responsible, the workers are more satisfied with where they work and ultimately become more committed to achieving success within the industry. What does it mean for these corporations? It means potential increased sales and profits as a result from having a more motivated workforce. This article describes changes in operating income for companies as a result of participation (or lack thereof) in corporate social responsibility. The results show that companies engaged in social responsibility saw an average of 19% increases in their operating budgets while companies that did not take an active “giving back” role saw an average of 33% losses in their operating budgets year to year.

If employees are more engaged as a result of social responsibility and that helps your company while you help others at the same time, what is there to think about?