Philanthropy and charity look much different today than they did even a decade ago. This was my take away from participating in SOBCon NW this past weekend in Portland Oregon. Community builder, brand strategist Liz Strauss and Entrepreneur Terry St. Marie envisioned the conference to explore how businesses are not only profitable but purposeful. In the past, businesses and individuals were approached by charities and non-profits asking for funding. Possibly pro bono or personal involvement on the part of the giver was offered but rarely did a partnership build, adding identity or experience for the participants. Alliances are happening now between unlikely partners. Out of the box solutions like a disaster relief agency and a multi-multimillion dollar game company working together to fund disaster relief in post earthquake Japan. Entrepreneurs are looking for partnerships for the sake of doing good. People can now see their efforts making a difference not only on the problem but also on the themselves. Businesses are going even further by building all of these values into their business plans. Partly I believe this was birthed from the end of the industrialized workplace. People are choosing to work with companies that reflect their own values and bringing their hearts to work. Many companies see this as a benefit in the face of limited fiscal advancements for employees in a difficult economy. They are also realizing business today is held accountable by consumers who share equally, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Regardless of how it came about or who is participating, change is happening. Examples were given at the conference of homeless awareness campaigns like invisiblepeople.tv and Direct Relief's partnerships, including their successful campaign with Zynga mentioned above. Social entrepreneurs Melissa and AJ Leon inspired the audience with many examples of how their career change is being played out on one successful humanitarian campaign after another.
As a connector, I was most interested in the continued use of advanced technology to aid those doing good. Citrix, as a major sponsor of the event, ended the conference by connecting the group to world changers in three parts of the world using using Gotomeeting HDfaces. The three groups were divided between two Direct Relief International programs, Florida Hurricane Preparedness, a gynocare doctor doing fistula repair surgery for women in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya and Global Hope Network helping empower the poorest villages around the globe. As I listened and interacted with Dr. Mabeya in Kenya, I concluded that it is not the efforts of many that will change the world but the actions of one. Each of us have within our own resources all that is required to change the world significantly. If our motives are pure and our minds clear, we can find others who are just as passionate about a need in the world. SOBCon is proof that entrepreneurs and employees alike can be both profitable and purposeful.