Can Livestrong Survive?

When the news about the USADA ban came out about Lance Armstrong, I posted this “Can Livestrong Live on” post. At the time I wondered if the brand could live on, in the wake of the scandal, and suggested yes it can.

In light of the 1,000 page novel that USADA released this week where they said that he was a “serial” cheat who led “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. It’s probably pertinent to re-visit the question and ask can the charity survive?

In short, I believe Yes they can. But…they need to do a few things:

  1. Distance themselves from Lance Armstrong.  I am not suggesting they dump Armstrong, but they would be well advised to distance themselves from him. What do I mean? Well I wouldn’t use him for media events, don’t feature him on the site, get a new chairman. They cannot deny their foundations, and nor should they, but they now need to move on and be an organisation that is about cancer survivors and not Lance Armstrong Cancer Survivor
  2. Be clear on their mission. When you go on their site the What We Do statement is “We look at the experiences of the cancer community, find problems and develop solutions. Then we roll them out to help more people in more situations.”. I don’t actually know what this really means, it sounds like research, but Livestrong don’t do or fund research. So they need to really say who they are and what they do. To be fair their homepage does break down where they spend their money, but things like grants are vague (it sounds like research)
  3. Be squeaky clean: is a for profit website that was sold by the charity. A lot of people (including me) end up here looking for information when there really is none. These kind of activities need to stop as the charity comes under scrutiny. Bill Gifford wrote this piece in Outside about the charity in January where he looks at how what they do and how they spend their money.  In parts he focuses on a lot of the wrong things (CEO salary) but he does raise some interesting points. For the charity to survive now they need to be squeaky clean (and I am not suggesting they are not) as they come under increasing scrutiny
  4. Shore up their partners: Livestrong need to shore up their own corporate partners and ensure they are supporting the cause and not Lance Armstrong. So, for example, the Nike sponsorship is of Lance Armstrong and Livestrong. The foundation now need to make a distinction between the two and ensure that Nike, even if they decide to continue to support Lance, differentiate their support.
  5. Say something: So far Livestrong has said nothing. This cannot last. They are celebrating 15 years, so they need to focus on that, but they need to say something. While Armstrong says he is innocent, this will be a challenge for them, but with the best lawyers and comms people around, surely they can script something that says how disappointed they are but how focussed they are on cancer survivors. They need to talk to their advocates and get their support shored up too.
  6. Get new heroes: Lance is no longer a hero. So they need to re-align themselves with new heroes, new survivors. Ordinary people, like you and me (they do some of this already, but they need to do more)
  7. Dont go on a marketing blitz: I actually think a brand positioning piece, with a massive media spend, would be a bad move for them now, so I hope they hold off on the temptation
  8. Armstrong steps down: Ideally Armstrong should step down. If he truly wants his legacy to be his work in cancer, then he should move aside now and allow the organisation survive and grow without him.

Man Therapy

Men’s mental health is a tricky one to approach and tricky to get right. I think this site has done a great job making a place that you would look around and perhaps come across information that is useful too. I really like most of the tone of the site, I think its really accessible and its well designed. The mission of the site is:

Working aged men (25-54 years old) account for the largest number of suicide deaths in Colorado. These men are also the least likely to receive any kind of support. They don’t talk about it with their friends. They don’t share with their family. And they sure as heck don’t seek professional treatment. They are the victims of problematic thinking that says mental health disorders are unmanly signs of weakness. And I, Dr. Rich Mahogany, am dedicated to changing that.

 Part of a multi-agency effort, including the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention, Carson J Spencer Foundation and Cactus, Man Therapy™ is giving men a resource they desperately need. A resource to help them with any problem that life sends their way, something to set them straight on the realities of suicide and mental health, and in the end, a tool to help put a stop to the suicide deaths of so many of our men.


What do you think?


Money Words (guest post)

By Perry Esler, Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals:

Tell a story – give the number. That’s the simple, best-practise, message we share with hundreds of radio people every year at stations across North America. It works. $450M raised since 1998 for our partner children’s hospitals. Great stories with a great pitch means lots of calls to the donor hot line.

Now there’s research that shows we might be able to increase pledges off those calls by how we greet the donor. Philanthropic psychologist Jen Shang has released a study that shows five words tied to moral qualities prompt larger donations.






The Indiana University Professor tested her theory at an appeal of public radio station WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana. The phone volunteers answered by thanking the caller and then they would randomly pick two of the five words to describe the caller. It sounded something like this: ‘Thanks for calling. You’re a caring and compassionate donor.’ In the end female donors gave, on average, 10% more.  By contrast the use of these adjectives had no impact on men.  Suffice to say since most donors to our radiothons are women this may be worth a try.

Many events still don’t script their phone volunteers, but this study should be enough to convince you otherwise.

Here is a recent interview we at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals conducted with Professor Shang about the study.  It concludes that a focus on the connection between moral identity and an individuals cause might create a higher ROI than focusing solely on the cause

Click here to listen to an interview Perry did with Prof. Shang.
Follow Perry on twitter here 

Energizer Toy Rescue

This is a nice campaign by Energizer in Australia, not a huge response to it yet though. What do you think?

Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland

I saw yesterday that the Ireland Funds have opened their Grants rounds. One of the categories that they will accept requests under is “Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland”. A few years ago, working with Niall O’Sullivan, we got a group of fundraisers in Ireland to attend a meeting that  talked about promoting Philanthropy. We pulled together a “thoughts” document and shared it with the Board of Philanthropy Ireland. I believe that there is more movement in this space again, which is great to hear.

But there was one line of thinking from that day that I have been keen to progress. My belief is that one of the ways (and not the only one)  of creating a culture of Philanthropy in Ireland is to think long term and about the next generation. I had heard about a campaign in the US that encouraged children to not just save their pocket money but to also spend some of it and share (donate) another portion.

I don’t know who runs it, or even if it is run by anyone, but I want to adapt it and bring it to life in Ireland.

I sincerely believe that a “Spend, Save, Share” movement, targeted at children in junior school (with a plan to grow with them as they develop) would be a massive step in promoting philanthropy in Ireland. Imagine, if, from a young age children think about money differently. They think about saving (that’s good right) but they also know that its ok to spend some too. Just as importantly though, they start to think about what some of that money could do for others? So they would start to think about sharing. I firmly believe that this would be the start of a mindset change, which would need to be supported by a full programme that, as I said, develops as the child develops, which could be incredibly powerful and game changing for the future of philanthropy.

This isn’t about the amount, so fundraisers should put the calculators away. This is about the action. It’s about creating a movement that changes how we think about philanthropy. It’s a step towards the idea of planned giving. Ireland is a generous nation, we all know that. But we aren’t a nation that really plans or thinks about its giving. I believe that a programme like this would create a culture where we start to think in a planned way.

So why am I telling you this?

Well I want charities to get on board with me. I would love to take this on, but I need charities to buy into it. Maybe organisations like Fundraising Ireland, Philanthropy Ireland, ICTRG, The Wheel could row in behind it too? Maybe even some financial institutions too!

We could apply to the Ireland Funds for seed funding and then look at where else we could get support. This is clearly in the ideas stage. But there is an idea here.

If you think it’s a good one and think your organisation would like to get behind something like this, let me know, drop me an email, tweet me, call me, whatever, just get in touch. We will then set something up with everyone who thinks it’s a good idea and do something about it.

I believe in this and would love to bring it to life. But I need you.


Pitching a Company on cause partnership

Katya Andresen posted on her blog today with tips on how to pitch to a company on a cause partnership. I think her first point is so crucial, if you can’t show a business case for the partnership, its just not going to happen.

I think the biggest problem most causes have however go beyond Katya’s 6 tips. In my mind its getting in the door. Getting attention.

I think if you are looking to create a partnership with a company you need to start thinking like them. This is so hard if you havent worked in that industry or sector, because you have no real insight into what the day to day problems are for the people you are targetting.

So how do you get around this? Well if I knew all the answers I would be minted, right? But from some recent work I have been involved in, these three things stand out to me.

  • First off, talk to people in the sector. Spend time getting that insight. This may seem like a lot of work, but if you understand the issues, then you can start to get your foot in the door. Because all of a sudden, just maybe, you could provide a solution to their business problems.
  • Secondly, tink about how you will get attention. So many of the people you are trying to get hold of are busy. They meet about meetings, their diaries aren’t their own. So what is the thing that, in a day where they just about get time to go to the toilet, will make them stop and listen/watch/read?
  • Finally, what is it that you are offering that is different. That can help them stand out from the crowd. That will continue to place them top of mind for consumers. What is it that you are offering that is cutting edge, that is using technology, that is possibly going to win them awards?
What do you think?

The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector

I have only read about half of this, but so far so good. Thought I would share the link with you.

Read the Article here

UN Voices

The United Nations needed to get the Australian public thinking seriously about poignant social issues. Seven images of different people with harrowing and inspiring stories were photographed and their images were placed around major Australian cities. Using unique photographic mobile technology the user would capture the person’s mouth on the poster then MMS the image to a number that would call them back with the person’s story.The mobile call invited you to visit to leave your own voice and listen to the other stories you may not have encountered. You could also read the comments left by others.

Anyone can give 2million!

There was an article in the daily mail last tuesday about a couple (Bernadette and Toby Young) who are planning to donate 2 million pounds to charity in their lifetime!

And they arent multi-millionaires

They are doing it by comitting to give 10% of their income to charity, so far this has amounted to 50,000 pounds and they believe as they become more successful this will total 2 million in their lifetime. They have made sacrifices, it has meant they havent gone on dream holidays, they havent been able to save the deposit for a house.

It is a pretty incredible story and as we try to really build and create a culture of philanthropy (that isnt just focussed on the ultra wealthy) I think that this couple should be appointed Ambassadors for Philanthropy

We clearly can’t expect everyone to follow in the footsteps of the Young’s, but even if their story got people thinking about planned giving, and even giving away 1-2% of their income to charity, wouldnt it be a great thing?

Read the full article here and Thanks to Phil from Aidlink who sent me this article.

The Promising Ireland Campaign

The Ireland Funds have launched an ambitious campaign to raise 100 million dollars by 2013.

The campaign will help charitable and non-profit organizations across the island of Ireland and Irish communities abroad meet the challenge of increased demand for their services at a time of major reductions in resources. Anticipating growing need, the Funds began a quiet phase in 2009 and have successfully raised over $40 million towards the $100 million goal. Today’s announcement represents the beginning of the public phase of the Promising Ireland Campaign.

Speaking on behalf of the twelve Ireland Funds around the world, President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, Kieran McLoughlin said, “Irish charities are facing a difficult period along with increased demands on their services, yet they are doing so with great innovation and focus. This campaign is a response to that intensified need and our donors have indicated they are ready to meet the challenge. The name of the campaign, Promising Ireland, reflects both our pledge to Ireland and our belief in her future.”

Chairman of The American Ireland Fund, Loretta Brennan Glucksman said, “This campaign is our call to action and reinforces our abiding commitment to the island of Ireland as a place and a people that hold great promise for the future. Needs are greater today and so the benchmark of our response must also be greater. The Worldwide Ireland Funds have represented the generosity and goodwill of the Irish diaspora and the Irish themselves. This campaign translates that goodwill into action that will truly help those most in need and funds will be distributed as they are raised over the course of the campaign.”


Red Cross (USA) holiday giving

Last week the Red Cross (USA) released survey results today about Holiday Giving.  They found that:

while the economy is still difficult for many people this year, the majority of you still expect to maintain strong levels of charitable giving.

  • Eighty six percent (86%) of you say your personal finances are the same or worse than last year.
  • Nearly three out of four (72%) of you will be donating more or about the same to charity this holiday season as they did last year.
  • Nearly six in ten (58%) feel that because of the economy, it’s more important this year to give something to charity.
  • Perhaps more fascinating is that you are not too sure about giving socially

Original post by Wendy Harman

Edelman Good Purpose Study 2010

Always worth a read, click on the image below or go direct to their site

Its ok to have different objectives



Companies and charities should have different objectives when they work together…this is ok. I recently heard about a company who said their objective for working with charity X was to raise a certain amount of money.

This, in my mind, should be the objective of the Fundraising Director of the charity, not of the corporate partner. Surely their objective is to sell more product. I know one of the most successful partnerships I worked on grew because our corporate partner sold more of their product around the time of the partnership. And we raised more money.

The company of course benefitted from a halo effect working with us, but ultimately their revenues increased.

I would love to start seeing companies being open to the fact that its ok to engage in a partnership with a charity to generate revenue and sell more products. I think if this reluctance was removed we could start to see charitable partnerships sit firmly within marketing departments and actually become even more effective. If you look at an organisations objectives behind a major sponsorship it isnt simply to do the right thing. They are very clear about why they engage in the partnership and what they want to get out of it and one of the main points will be…to shift more of their products.

If there was a change in this direction I believe we would start to see even more successful charitable partnerships, even greater alignment between companies and charities and longer term more sustainable partnerships.

This then may leave the door open for even purer philanthropy, with companies are giving a % of their profits to causes….then there will be some great sponsorship partnerships and philanthropy, not one dressed up as the other. The first couple of pages of this paper by Network For Good offers some great tips on this topic…download it here

What do you think? Am I off the mark here?

Want to Help Developing Countries? Sell Them Good Stuff

A friend of mine David Wolman wrote this really interesting piece in Wired (he has also written a book on left-handedness…i kid you not!)

Source: Wired Sept 27th 2010

The Tata Group, India’s version of Acme and maker of the supercheap Nano automobile, recently introduced a $22 water purifier that works without electricity or running water. (Every few months it needs a new $6 filter.) A big-hearted, philanthropic, and important effort? You bet—cue the somber stats about preventable waterborne diseases. But check out the size of the market for a product like that: Some 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, 200 million of them in India alone. Tata is saving lives and making a killing.

That’s why, at next year’s G-whatever meeting in France, world leaders would do well to rip up those big checks to tin-pot autocrats and channel the cash to startup companies instead. Help those companies make cheap, useful products to sell to the world’s poor, who will use them to become less poor, and everybody wins. Management guru C. K. Prahalad advocated this very idea six years ago in The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, and now a few companies like Tata are putting it into action.

D.Light Design is a case in point. After witnessing the inefficiencies and harmful health effects of kerosene lamps as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, Sam Goldman returned to the US to earn an MBA and pursue a very specific agenda: Replace kerosene lighting, everywhere, with inexpensive solar-powered LED lamps. Three years ago, he launched D.light to produce such lamps and has already sold 250,000* to customers throughout the developing world at an average price of $20 apiece. The company hopes to light the homes of 50 million people by 2015.

Another example: Forty percent of humanity gets by on less than $2 a day, and most of those people are rural farmers. Efficient drip irrigation systems could triple or quadruple their yields while reducing their costs, but manufacturers haven’t bothered making drip systems for tiny farms. In 2004, a company called Global Easy Water Product began selling a setup that can be used for small plots. The price: $32.50 per quarter acre. In just two years as a for-profit venture, it has sold more than 250,000 units in India.

“Conventional development economics was always about increasing per capita income to a certain level before people become consumers,” says Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. The new view flips that logic on its head: Providing access to modern technologies by creating supercheap products may, in fact, be the best way to improve economic well-being. For entrepreneurs, the race is on to tap that massive population of penny-wielding consumers-in-waiting. Put another way, if Coke and Marlboro can sell to the world’s poor, companies whose products are actually useful should be able to do it, too.

But selling to subsistence farmers takes some reshuffled thinking. To simplify a bit, companies in traditional markets design a product, figure out what it costs to make, and then select a profit-maximizing price. That approach assumes, of course, that your market exists in the first place. When doing business in Burundi, you’re trying to conjure buyers out of thin air. To do that, you start by committing to a price as close as possible to nothing. The task, then, is to design a product that costs even less to make. Only with what Govindarajan calls “frugal engineering” can companies gain access to the masses at the bottom of the pyramid.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially for big firms that are already hardwired for other priorities (Tata is the exception here). But nimble startups can have a real advantage in this new environment because they aren’t trying to satisfy the tastes of existing first-world customers.

The trick is balancing affordability and quality. In a Harvard Business Review article last year, Govindarajan, together with Tuck colleague Chris Trimble and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, wrote that people in emerging markets “are more than happy with high-tech solutions that deliver decent performance at an ultralow cost—a 50 percent solution at a 15 percent price.” That’s not a green light for lame products, though. As in any market, what’s being sold has to fill an unmet need. The poor may be poor, but they’re not stupid.


Philanthropy in Ireland – meet up

Any readers of this blog in Ireland will probably have read the McKinsey & Co report “Philanthropy in the Republic of Ireland. The report suggests three initiatives they feel will improve Philanthropy in Ireland:

  1. Improve the giving culture
  2. Mobilise resources of philanthropy
  3. Expand & Strengthen underlying infrastructure

It is great to have this report and these suggestions, but are we all going to read it and let it sit on our shelves? Or are we going to try take some action and see how we can, together, bring some of the suggestions to life?

Seems to me like an opportunity.

So I am suggesting that we should meet up to discuss (informally) what role we should or could play in achieving these initiatives. Niall O’ Sullivan has kindly made the boardroom of the Community Foundation for Ireland available on Wednesday July 21st (4pm-5.30pm) for anyone who is interested in coming along to discuss the report.

This is an open invitation so if you are interested comment on this post, email me, or email Niall and just let us know you will be attending.

Please feel free to spread the word by forwarding this post