Thoughts

Can A Business Do Good?

Since I was young, I always had a problem with business.  I always saw myself as an artist, as a person who would work to wrestle the horrible grasp businesses had on the way we looked at the world and changed everyone’s mindset away from horrible, horrible commercialism.

I accidentally fell into the startup world a few years ago.  It started in Israel, where I was desperately looking for a job.  I had no idea what I wanted to do at the time.  All I knew that I had a baby coming any day now, and I was willing to sell out to the man to get a “real” job, artist or no artist.

I eventually found an ad for a position in a startup in Israel.  I didn’t really know much about it, but I saw that they needed someone with experience blogging and Facebook-ing.  Finally, some skills I actually had.

I reached out, and, after months of searching, was almost immediately offered the job.  It was a perfect fit.

What I didn’t realize at the time, but what has become clearer to me, is that the reason I got that job wasn’t only because of experience or skills: it had just as much to do with my “dreamer” way of looking at the world.  This is a big thing in startup culture these days: they want people that have an ambition to change the world for the better.

My experience in that position and in others since then has completely changed the way I have looked at business. I started noticing how businesses weren’t just breaking down “corporate” culture, which itself isn’t a negative thing, but that more and more have made it their mission to change the world.  And that is the real revolution.

Facebook and Twitter have literally caused revolutions in places like Egypt.  And the founders of these companies knew the power of their work when they entered the tech world: they knew technology and the internet has the power to change things.

Even corporations have gotten into the mix as they’ve noticed the power of “change” to affect their marketing.  Chase Bank has run one of the most popular charity campaigns on the web called “Chase Community Giving”.  The program gives out millions of dollars every year to charity.

As time has passed, I’ve begun to believe more and more in the power of business to not just change things but to do actual good in the world.

Which is why it’s been a fascinating experience to run the marketing over here.  Charidy, a business whose entire business model is centered around doing good, has become, to me, an experiment to see just how much good a company can do.

For example: are we just a medium for nonprofits?  Or can we do our good that benefits both our business as well as the world?  After all, we, like most startup founders today, believe that a business isn’t just a way to make money, but a vehicle for doing good.  For revolutionizing the world.

As our marketing has ramped up, and we’ve published more blog posts, seen the way people work with our Facebook community, and slowly completed our alpha testing, the more I’ve begun to fully embrace this idea.

And it all reached a head when I posted something on Facebook the other day. I encouraged my friends to seek therapy if they felt like they needed it.  I’ve felt for a while that therapy is under-utilized, both because people misunderstand it and because of a certain undiscussed stigma attached to it.

I was amazed at the reaction. Over 90 people eventually engaged with my post, and soon ideas were floating around about how to make an actual awareness campaign for mental health.

A friend of mine, Esther Freeman, suggested an idea that I absolutely loved.  I wanted so badly to run with it.  But the only problem: I didn’t have the time.

But then it hit me: this is a perfect marketing campaign for Charidy.

Why?  How could a campaign for awareness about mental health be a marketing campaign for a for-profit company?

Well, because businesses can do good.  They really can.  The goals of the mental health campaign we are about to launch perfectly aligns with our goals in marketing.  We need awareness for our company, we need people to join our community of people who care about giving and kindness, we need people that want to change the world.

And that’s what this mental health campaign will be all about: changing the world.

In other words, business doesn’t have to conflict with doing good.  Self-interest doesn’t have to mean the opposite of selflessness.  In a perfect world, the two go hand in hand.

Hopefully, this awareness campaign will be only one part of a bigger campaign to change the world.  In my head, I imagine us doing good with everything we do, with every campaign, with every blog post, with every Facebook update.

Because businesses can really do good.

Now all we have to do is convince everyone else.

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