May 07

I’m So Sick of Dots


Screw the Dots.

Dots. What a pain in the ass. They seem to get in the way of a lot of good.

Now  you might be thinking, “Well DK, that’s great. Why don’t you lie down for a while a take a couple of magic pills of sleepy sleep and wake up ready to leave your fantasy world of inanimate objects effecting your outlook on life.”

Ha. Funny.

But really, dots are holding back so much of our communities. And THE top culprits for this reside in the world of for-profit and non-profit.

The dreaded .COM and .ORG….

Why do we punish our creative, passionate, savvy entrepreneurs by forcing them to choose between one or the other when getting a career together.

It starts immediately. After completing college, tech school, high school.. whatever. The moment that comes when a person shift from “learning” and moves into “career building” – it is on… pick which side you’d like to be on. The world of profits and “business” or the world of non-profits and “charity.”

[This is the part where if this were a video blog, you would see a moment of me with a blank stare for a bit into camera, then a fully flown middle-finger bird right into camera.]

This is a false choice. Our communities all across America are built on creativity, driven, commitment, and hard work… not an internet designation.   Success and failure in business (and in community) rests in the work of the leaders, not the systems themselves.  Why should there be a line drawn in the virtual sand?

My friend, Robert Egger, talks about this quite often. He describes it as choosing “between making money, and doing good.” He, like me, thinks these two phrases not only shouldn’t be a choice of one or the other… but that they should be connected.. not separated.

If I gave you a business model plan, which ended its pitch to you by saying, “and with your support in this investment, I will be sure to utilize your dollars to their best benefit…and of course blow ALL of it before coming back to ask for more.”

[Back to the Sleepy Sleep Pills, DK]

But yet, this is the perceived idea for non-profits in America. Don’t make good business, make a good (enough) charity. Let the grown up handle the business part. We’ll make the money, then give you some to improve our community.

Conversely, if I presented a board chair of a non-profit organization with a proposal for a “New Shift in Values and Operations” and ended it with “and with your support in this investment, I will be sure to utilize your dollars to their best benefit..and maximize our earning potential and statement of financial position (net assets).”

[Zzzzzzzz pills, Dougies. Sleepy time.]

But allow me to expand on this by saying… why not?! Why wouldn’t we want our nonprofit organization to flourish, maximize their earnings, and continue their amazing work? Why wouldn’t we want our for-profits to be strong stewards of our communities far beyond a couple of dinner table buys and a sponsorship at the “Ye Old Street Fair and Water Polo Tournament XII” event?

It can be done. It IS being done.

Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise is leading the way on this by developing a pathway fits first and foremost to the current values and beliefs many of us have… we VALUE those who give back and make a difference; and we APPRECIATE and RESPECT hard working leaders to be able to turn a comfortable profit to themselves and their investors.

Take Tom’s Shoes. They said right up front “We are in business to help change lives.”  They are a shoe company. They make, sell, and profit from the development of a product with a need: shoes. But it is not enough for them to turn a profit, THEN see how to give back. Rather, they incorporate their belief in giving as a FUNCTION of their sales. Buy some shoes for yourself (for-profit); your purchase triggers the ability for another pair of shoes to be donated to some child who is in need (non-profit).  The how is plain. The why is obvious. The “who” is the interesting question… is this a for-profit with a good heart (.COM); or is this a charity with a strong business model (.ORG)?

Answer: Doesn’t matter. Screw the Dot.

This is inevitable. Studies and surveys so time and time again that those brands who give back and support charities have strong brand loyalty from their customers. We are more than willing to switch brands when we find a business who support charitable effort we individually believe in/support. We look for this. We appreciate this.

Similarly, we want our non-profit organizations to be strong stewards and operate with not just transparency, but business savvy. No one likes to give to a group that’s unsustainable. We want our efforts to last, make an impact, and thrive.

Social Enterprise is the method of combining these needs and desire by both capitalism and social responsibility  Protect others by thriving as a business with strong financial standing to give back and impact community  Profit begets impact; Impact begets profit. A circle of success.

In the world of community development and revitalization of our towns and cities, I look to social entrepreneurs and innovative organization that see these connections… and function within a new set of parameters.

Ones that don’t have as many DOTS….. Screw The Dots.

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