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Live in Lowell!

Many of you know I have become involved with The 12 For 12K Challenge. I’ve written about this organization and its founder, Danny Brown, before in previous posts.

All work and no play is never good for anyone’s small business! Here is what I’ve been up to with my12 for 12k partners, David Holliday and Matt Caruso…and hope to see you there!

Live In Lowell! For the December “Homeless” theme, the New England 12for12k team invite you to Live in Lowell! – a special 12for12k event. Live in Lowell! takes place on Thursday, December 10th and will be an evening of music, networking and fun in support of MA Coalition for the Homeless.

There will be live music all night with some of the coolest local musicians as well as raffles and auctions. Come listen to John Haydon, Flood, or the Bella Byrds and who knows who else might have a surprise set! All in all, a great opportunity to meet with other social media enthusiasts, support a great cause at a time of year they need the help and have a good time as well.

Our venue, The Mambo Grill, is right in Downtown Lowell, Mass – where the American Industrial Revolution was born. Lowell is easy to get to from all the main highways and there is parking on the street or in the garage just around the corner. Live in Lowell! At the Mambo Grill 129 Merrimack Street Lowell, MA 01852 December 10th, 2009 Starting at 7.00PM $10.00 donation (more if you like) at the door.

If you can’t make it to Lowell, we plan to stream the event live right here on the 12for12k site.

Please donate and any amount is deeply appreciated! Thank you!

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Community Involvement Redux and 12 For 12K

In a previous post, Is Community Involvement Good For Your Business, I asked you to think strategically about how community involvement could be a part of your small business. I work with a lot of entrepreneurial business owners who believe deeply that their businesses should reflect their value system. I was just coaching one today who is about to launch a cool business that combines non-profit fundraising with music events.

Most of the time, I don’t write about my business or myself.  I like to keep this blog a place where we can talk about ideas, best practices, and not have it be an “All Elli, All the Time” kind of platform. This time, I’m making an exception. Community service has been an integral part of me since childhood. It seemed natural that this would be part of my business model because who you are is reflected in how you run your business.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners, I’d like to invite you to join me in supporting The 12 For 12k Challenge on Tuesday, September 29, 2009. We’re going global! I’ve been following the folks at The 12 For 12k Challenge for a few months before I decided to join them. As someone who likes to check things out before I endorse, I tweeted with Danny Brown (@DannyBrown) who is the founder and got to know him and the organization. I jumped in when 12 For 12k partnered with Unicef. (This is not to say that the other organizations were not worthy. They are!) In a nutshell, the goal is to partner with one charity each month and raise $12,000 for each charity through social media.

So why now? The 12 For 12k Challenge is partnering with Doctors Without Borders (Some of you may know them as Medicins San Frontieres) for September. Doctors Without Borders provides healthcare to people injured or ill due to civil unrest/war, exclusion from healthcare based on their ethnicity, status, or religion, and natural disasters. They go everywhere and anywhere! Not only that, the work is done by volunteers.

What’s going on? On Tuesday, September 29, 2009, Go Global 24 is going to be a 24 hour tweet-a-thon led by Henie Reisinger (@HenieArtOnline) and there are fabulous opportunties for businesses to donate prizes, sponsorships, and participate in great conversations spanning a variety of topics. There are 7 ways you can add your support so please visit the site to see what fits you and your business best. Embedded in all of this is a sense of fun and a desire to play. If you’ve considered 12 For 12k before, this event is different. Instead of asking individuals for their money, the focus is on sponsorships by large and small businesses. Imagine being able to reach more than 159 countries and banding together as global citizens!  No borders, no limits!  

Come on! Join us in global community involvement that is fun, meaningful, and remarkable! You’ll meet wonderful people who share your passion for making this world a better place!  

Photo by WillSelarep, iStockphoto

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Is Community Involvement Good For Your Business?

Conventional wisdom says, “definitely, yes” because it will help build your business. But with any kind of conventional wisdom, it is important to stop and think about what community involvement means to you. Like any other activity your business engages in, some strategic thinking will help in the long run.

Just for a start, do you want to get involved? When running a small business, there are so many demands on our time, money, even on ourselves. It is easy to feel drained and overwhelmed. Getting involved as a business person is different than getting involved as an ordinary citizen. Your actions and opinions are under a different lens so there are times when you have to be conscious of your behavior.

So how do you want to get involved? With so many of us engaging in both social networking and in-person networking, our communities can be local, national, international, or virtual.  Most of the entrepreneurs I coach have a sense of mission and want to create a values-based business. They often speak of what they will do someday when they are “big enough.” The thing is what if you keep changing the definition of what “big enough” looks like? Participation can be small as in a one-off donation or it can be that you take on a integral role in the organization.

You could get involved at the group level.  At a recent chapter event for the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Big Sister Organization received a donation. Every year, the chapter president chooses a charity to benefit and the chapter raises money through raffle prizes at each event. Just by buying one raffle ticket, business owners were able to assist an organization that makes a difference in the community.

You could get involved at your individual level. Volunteer for an organization, become a board member, or even start an organization. For example, Danny Brown (@dannybrown) started 12 for 12k with the goal to raise $12,000 each month for 12 charities. Ellie Anbinder started  Art beCAUSE to fund research dedicated to eradicating the environmental causes of breast cancer. Each year, her organization is able to “Seed the Scientist” with money that furthers our understanding of how substances in our environment can affect women’s (and men’s) breast health. While you do not have to start your own foundation, getting involved in something you believe in is crucial. What changes do you want to make in your community? As a volunteer board member of NAWBO Boston, I want women business owners to build successful, powerful businesses. You define your community. Do you want to reduce hunger? Unemployment? Improve literacy? Keep kids out of trouble?

So, now we come to What’s In It For My Business? Determining the kind of impact your community involvement you desire for your business is a key piece. Many of us have seen signs at Little League games for local retailers and business owners. For them, their name becomes easy to remember and you are more likely to go to that local pizza shop, that lawyer, or that hardware store. Others are looking to demonstrate how socially responsible they are so you make a value-based decision to buy their product or service. Another benefit to community involvement is accessibility to other business owners and customers/clients who are more likely to naturally do business with you.

I asked Danny Brown to explain what impact 12 for 12k has had on his business.  He explained that, ”It’s had a wonderful two-fold effect. It’s put me in touch with other business owners of the same mindset that wish to collaborate on projects; and it’s made companies aware that social equity can also equal profits. I’ve had seven new clients take me onboard to help them with both cause marketing and general community building work. So I think social equity is definitely a great business tool, as long as it’s genuine in its use.”

What are your motivations? This last question completes your strategic thinking about why you would engage in community involvement. If the value of service is an important one to you, donating your time, talent, or treasure in some form becomes just part of who you are. But as you cannot give to everyone and there are problems in the world that you want to stop, it is necessary to consider why you want to get involved as a business owner/entrepreneur versus a private person. Expectations, desire for power, desire for a legacy, or even your spiritual practice play into your decisions. In the end, know why you want to get involved and know how deeply you want to get involved.

Some other sites that focus entirely on this topic are:

www.selfishgiving.com

www.businessgivingstrategies.com

There are some excellent discussions on philosophies of community involvement as well as information on what different roles are available.

So, what do you have to say about community involvement?

Do you know why it would be good/bad for your business What are your expectations?

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