The SVM Wire: Content with Value


Marc Benioff & SF Gives: Building Tech Philanthropy

benioffOne line in particular from San Francisco Chronicle reporter Joe Garofoli’s conversation with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is striking. Nestled within a city that has become synonymous with tech and “big data” in recent years, Benioff insisted, “We don’t want to be the industry that looks like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’” A cursory search for technology and web start-ups in the San Francisco area on a site like Yelp produces hundreds of pages of results, suggesting that the stereotype is, indeed, rooted in truth.

Compelled by this tendency of tech companies to pursue their ventures in the Bay Area, Benioff is working with the nonprofit Tipping Point to oversee SF Gives, an initiative seeking to raise millions of dollars from tech-related companies to support local anti-poverty efforts. LinkedIn and Google are among the current donors, each of which has been asked to contribute $500,000 to kick off the program. Speaking with SFGate, Benioff reasoned that, “We have to keep a light on this idea that if you come to San Francisco, you need to also be committed to giving back”; SF Gives, by reaching out to some of the most influential individuals in the industry, hopes to encourage firms to build local philanthropy into their models.

As reflected in his interview with San Francisco Magazine, published earlier this week, Benioff believes philanthropic and corporate structures necessarily go hand-in-hand: “When I was at Oracle, I’d have this debate all the time with Larry Ellison, who has been a huge influence on my career. He’d always say, ‘Who do you think has done more for the world: the Ford Foundation or the Ford corporation?’… It took me a few years until I came back to him and said, ‘I’ll tell you the answer to that question. Both.’ ‘Both’ is the answer. There’s not a choice to be made. This is too easy.”

Read this week’s interview between Jon Steinberg and Benioff here, or view last month’s article and slideshow in SFGate.
Relatedly, Nonprofit Quarterly and Bloomberg Businessweek explored the impact of tech companies on the real estate landscape in places like San Francisco.

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Giving Through Glass: Google Glass in the Nonprofit Realm

Mashable reported today that Google is extending the eligibility period for its initiative to equip nonprofits with Google Glass, training sessions, and (perhaps most importantly) grants to support their projects. The big data firm will choose five nonprofits in June as winners of the package. Check out the embedded video to see how the World Wildlife Fund — already partnered with Google — made use of its gadget in Nepal’s Chitwan Park.

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Productivity Tools for Nonprofits

An infographic rendition of tips and guidelines from Julia Claire Campbell of J Campbell Social Marketing. Campbell, who works in online nonprofit marketing, translates her experiences with clients into useful pointers and highlights tools available for nonprofit employees constantly inundated with tasks and information.

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8 Ways to Create Social Value: Case Studies

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Cheryl Kiser and Deborah Leipziger literally wrote the book on creating social value. This post gives us a glimpse into their thought process when examining how social value is produced. The Creating Social Value, A Guide for Leaders and Change Makers authors lay out 8 lessons that we can learn from business powerhouses like Verizon and Target. The authors’ discussion about the co-creation of social value is pivotal to our own goals at SVM and definitely worth looking into as the landscape of business marketing continues to change.

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A Little Help From Friends: A How-to on Successful Partnerships

In a CSRwire guest post, KnowlEdge Srl CEO Dr. Andrea Bassi and World Economic Forum Dean Gilbert Probst present the UNDP Guyana Low Carbon Emission Strategy and the Madrasati Initiative as examples of programs with extensive reach due to the number of shareholders engaged in their work. Their call to identify “stakeholders, causes and impacts” when building partnerships to tackle complex issues serves as a reminder that strategy is key when taking up a cause: whether bridging the gap between private and public or (inter)national and local, we, as partnership facilitators, must be conscious of the need for diverse perspectives and attention to nuance.

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The Benefits of Google+

Google+In 1997, the Google.com domain was registered by two twenty-somethings at Stanford University. Just 17 years later, that domain has become a widely-used verb, symbolizing the sheer weight of the site’s social impact. Despite the company’s youth, this impact is difficult to ignore among individuals and businesses alike. The rise of Google and other social networking sites has pushed businesses to revolutionize their marketing strategies; as Genoveva Petrova, a Social Media Account Manager for Milestone Insights, has stated, “we live in a Google world and so does your business.”

Since becoming a household name, other businesses have begun to take note of the products and services that Google releases. The rise of the social media bubble contributed to the development of Google’s own social media platform: Google+. In a March 3 blog post, Petrova highlights the benefits of the platform in a business context, including “improving the visibility of business in Google Search” and increasing “social signals and networking of a brand.” In today’s social media world, a company’s general visibility is synonymous with its social networking presence, and it’s important that businesses keep up the pace.

Today, Google+ is still a somewhat peripheral component of many social strategies. This article may change your perspective on that.

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What Great Corporate Wellness Programs Do

Shortly after we shared an HBR post by Rajiv Kumar, Cortney Rowan and Karuna Harishanker took Kumar’s defense of corporate wellness programs a step further. It is one thing to understand that corporate health and wellness programs are worthwhile. It is a different undertaking to understand how they are most effective. Rowan and Harishanker take a look at best-in-class health programs and share some ideas on how businesses can structure these wellness programs to  be successful. If you’re a business considering corporate wellness, their thoughts are definitely worth considering.

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Get Personal: Building Business Relationships

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Janice Rotchstein, Edelman’s Chief Quality Officer, here offers her perspective on how to build a client relationship through honesty, transparency, and a little TLC. We fully agree with the tenets of this short article. Often, people claim business is not personal, but it certainly needs to be personal for those special, long-standing clients with whom you grow! As a growing firm, we believe our collective goals — those belonging to us and those of our clients — are very personal.

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In Defense of Corporate Wellness Programs

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Rajiv Kumar challenges a recent blog post from the Harvard Business Review discounting the impact of corporate wellness programs. Kumar’s thesis, which seems pretty intuitive to us, is that there are two primary benefits to encouraging a healthier workforce: lower healthcare costs and improved employee productivity. In focusing on the motives versus the outcomes, we agree that the initial HBR post is flawed and short-sighted. How much do the company’s motives matter if the results include monetary efficiency, improved productivity, and improved employee health?

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