Reflection on UBM’s Business4Better

Last week, UBM held its 4th annual Business4Better event in London. This two-day conference is part of the company’s Community Engagement Series, which was founded in Brazil in 2009 and now also takes place in India and the United States. Business4Better “brings together not-for-profits, social enterprises, business leaders and corporate responsibility professionals to share, learn and connect.”

Thuy LeDinh of Public Interest Registry had the opportunity to attend B4B for the first time and witness how UBM has made this event, along with the rest of the Community Engagement Series, part of its personal commitment to operate as a responsible and sustainable business in its longterm effort to bring the voluntary and business sectors together.

There has been a growing trend for businesses to exercise their corporate social responsibility (CSR) through foundations, events, campaigns, specialty programs, and projects for various causes. What is inspiring about UBM is that they have truly begun facilitating their business based on the idea of improving society. UBM understands that the interconnectivity between sectors is vital for success in a future society.

For decades, we have recognized three main sectors: business, government, and independent. In the standard model the third sector has essentially been perceived and labeled as a third wheel because its consituents (not-for-profits, NGOs, NPOs, etc.) have not clearly defined a universal name to use, and do not have the same resources that businesses and governments have access to. The overarching problem with this model is that the three sectors rarely – if ever – seem to work together cohesively, simultaneously.

LeDinh reflects on a story that Lord Michael Hastings, KPMG International’s Global Head of Corporate Citizenship, shared in London:

On April 24, 2013, an eight-story building collaped in Bangladesh. This building, the Rana Plaza, contained apartments, a bank, a variety of other shops, and garment factories for some of the world’s largest apparel companies, such as H&M, Primark, and Walmart. Despite concerns and evacuation requests that Bangladeshi NGOs had voiced to employers about cracks in the building, workers were prompted to show up the next day. That very next morning, the building collapsed, trapping 3,122 workers inside. After 17 long days of digging through rubble, the death toll reached 1,127 people, and approximately 2,500 people rescued from the building alive were injured. Given that the majority of these workers were women that were single parents and/or sole providers for their families, the entire village of people was disrupted, and effectively destroyed.

After this horrific tragedy, some of the questions we are left asking are:

  • How do we prevent tragedies such as this from happening again?
  • What dialogue needs to happen? Between who?
  • Who will be held responsible for making sure that brands and businesses who set up international factories implement proper safety precautions and pass factory inspections?
  • How do we promote ethical working environments, and ultimately ethical consumerism?

In the case of the Bangladeshi factory collapse, it would have been advantageous for dialogue to occur between advocates on behalf of the workers, businesses, and government officials – to regulate safety measures before allowing people to work in the building. Communication must work both ways; if businesses and governments work together with the independent sector, they will likely have more effective and efficient results.

Like UBM, Public Interest Registry strongly believes in a new paradigm where businesses increase their interaction with government and members of the independent sector in order to develop strong relationships that will improve society. We feel that to make this happen, there is a need to go beyond a digital impact and aim to create interpersonal connections via civil partnerships.

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[Image taken from the World Economic Forum’s Report: The Future Role of Civil Society]

UBM is taking the first step toward trying to unite all three sectors; we would like to see this trend become a way of life across the globe.

Public Interest Registry will be offering .NGO, a new and exclusive domain extension representing “Non-governmental organization”, as a part of this initiative – to give NGOs around the world the opportunity to find and communicate with one another, with donors, and with potential business partners. The ultimate goal is to help NGOs build capacity and become sustainable while working towards improving society.

The .NGO domain is expected to launch in 2015. Its counterpart, .ONG – the acronym for .NGO used in Romance languages – will also become available to the public by Public Interest Registry at that time. To learn more information and submit an expression of interest for these domains, visit www.ngotld.org.

Leveraging Celebrities to Enhance Your Cause Marketing

In cause campaign efforts, celebrity involvement can help catalyze momentum to reach and engage your audience when it is approached and strategized correctly. What does it really mean to find the right celebrity for your cause and collaborate together to create an authentic partnership? What is the best way to navigate the triangular dynamic between brand, cause, and celebrity? Nancy Gofus, the COO of Public Interest Registry, had the opportunity to explore this topic with a fantastic panel of experts at this year’s Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago on May 29, 2013:

Connie Fontaine, Director, Marketing Communications, Ford of Canada
Nancy Gofus, COO, Public Interest Registry
Joel Goldman, Director of Entertainment Industry Relations, Malaria No More
René Jones, Founding Director, United Talent Agency Foundation

The leading message of this panel was that in order for cause campaigns to be effective, stories need to be told; more importantly, they need to be authentic. Additionally, the ultimate goal for brands, nonprofits and celebrities is a win-win-win situation. In order to be successful, nonprofits and charities that are organizing cause campaigns need to identify an advocate that would not only be able to relate to and support their mission, but that would also be appealing to their audience.

There is a big difference between booking talent for a commercial cause marketing spot versus a public service announcement.  For a commercial cause marketing spot, you need to find an advocate that is truly connected to the cause, who would be more willing to donate their time to show their support. Alternatively, talent agencies will be looking to collect heavy lump sums of money to book their clients, especially when the spot ad is for a large commercial brand.

From the brand perspective, you’ll want the talent to be proud to be affiliated with your company. Again, the relationship needs to grow organically and the story that you seek to tell needs to be authentic. When this relationship is met with a cause campaign, the dynamic becomes incredibly powerful and the potential to move audiences to demonstrate social good increases.

If you are either a brand or celebrity, or are working on a cause campaign, check out the video clip from the forum above. There are some great takeaways!

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong.

In this TED talk, Dan Pallotta (@danpallotta) claims that there is a double standard that currently persists for nonprofits: they are often rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they actually get done. Pallotta asks the public to start rewarding not-for-profit groups for the ambitious goals that they set out to attain, and the results that they produce, as opposed to reprimanding them for thinking outside of traditional efforts for funding and support. …Well, Public Interest Registry couldn’t agree more. We want to see nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — big and small — become empowered by sharing their cause with the world, raising money, and developing their skills and infrastructure, despite the cost(s) to make this happen.

For nearly a year now, Public Interest Registry has been slowly rolling out the idea of .NGO — a new domain extension that will provide NGOs with greater and immediate recognition online as members of a trusted community, as well as the opportunity to advance their mission. This means that by having the .NGO extension as part of your domain name, you would have already been validated as an organization that is non-governmental, non-for-profit, and non-criminal.

The .NGO domain extension supports Pallotta’s point in that it encourages NGOs to try new methods of engagement with the general public, donors, and potential strategic partners. We anticipate that once .NGO truly grows into fruition it will function as an exemplary tool and transform the traditional model for NGOs across the globe [for the better].

Part of that model will include Your.NGO — the social space for NGOs to connect with one another online and promote their cause. There are several objectives here:

to create a credible online database of validated NGOs
to highlight NGOs’ social causes
to bridge gaps and strengthen alliances between groups that focus on similar efforts
to provide donors with direct search capability so that they can support the specific cause(s) of their choosing
Ultimately, the Your.NGO profile page will supplement each NGO’s home website, driving as much traffic as possible from the social medium to the organization’s home entity. Online integration will help maximize audience reach and productivity.

This truly is a very exciting time for the domain industry because the Internet is changing, becoming more accessible and dynamic every day. This means that there is a lot of opportunity and potential for NGOs to have their voices heard on a magnified scale. But as Pallotta points out in his talk, in order to get some actual traction towards achieving their mission, these groups need to take chances despite fear of failure. In turn, we need to applaud and reward NGOs’ accountability for their productivity and results.