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Generosity Series

6 Tips For How Businesses Can Make Themselves More Generous

Marketing geniuses show how businesses can adapt to a future where just selling products isn’t enough.

As the lines between corporations and nonprofits blur, the work environment is becoming more collaborative, transparent, interactive and entrepreneurial. Corporations and consumers alike are more often motivated by passion and a desire to make an impact. Our most generous marketing geniuses are at the forefront of spreading the word about the movement, creating platforms to highlight good works and opportunities to effect positive change in local communities and beyond.

"Ideas more than ever can make the biggest difference in the world," says Droga5 CEO and founder David Droga. "We’re communicators, we’re problem solvers and we’re lateral thinkers and there’s nothing that can’t be improved with that."

These problem solvers are using their creativity to break down barriers to ensure their work makes a difference beyond selling products. "That’s the best that we can do," says David Sable, global CEO of Y&R. "Not just take a brief and do a nice thing for charity and have people sit around and cry and feel bad. But how can we help the organization in its change as it looks to go to the next level, as it faces the next challenge."

1: Being generous is no longer a choice but a responsibility.

Their focus is on purposeful creativity that helps align a company’s behavior with what consumers are demanding. "We have an amazing power to use that creativity and almost I’d argue, an obligation," says global CEO of Havas and Havas Worldwide David Jones, "to use creativity to change people’s behavior around some of the big issues facing the world."

2: Generosity and social good should be woven into the fabric of the company.

Founder of Woodwork Lane Wood has helped corporations like Warby Parker do just that. "It was a good moment for social enterprise to see that you could be unapologetically focused on products and build a really great company and build your customer base," says Wood. "And all the while have the charitable component as part of the DNA, the by-the-way moment that there’s much more here than meets the eye."

3: Without a commitment to social good, companies will find it more difficult to survive in the future.

Co-founder of Motive and Whole World Water, Jenifer Willig helps companies find sustainable, responsible social solutions aligned with their missions. "You have to be willing to be the big thinker but you actually have to be willing to do the hard work, too," Willig says. "You don’t have time to just talk. You’ve got to make it happen."

4: Consumers are an integral part of the conversation and a motivator of change.

"If you’re going to be powerful, think of yourself as a citizen and consumer," says Alex Bogusky, former head of Crispin Porter + Bogusky. "Vote with your dollars and vote with your vote. If you try to do either one exclusively you are not going to be effective."

5: Being generous can also mean joining individual forces to advance the greater good.

This is the latest post in a series on generosity, in conjunction with Catchafire.

By bringing together unique talents or simply mobilizing sheer numbers, many of these experts are making an even greater impact. David Jones is inspiring the next generation through One Young World. Stephen Friedman, president of MTV, is harnessing the power of entertainment to educate and mobilize youth. "We are doing a disservice if we don’t at least ask the question," Friedman says. "Is there a pro social angle that can enrich the connection we have with our audience? Our audience expects it. Activism is woven through their life."

Dan Wieden, co-founder and chairman of Wieden+Kennedy, has created communities where his employees and inner city youth can grow both as individuals and as part of a larger team towards a greater collective goal. "How do you create a culture where people are encouraged to be fully and absolutely themselves to explore all the attics and corners in their minds and hearts," Wieden says. "And at the same time work alongside a lot of other very strong personalities to solve problems."

6: A commitment to community and creating a better place for community members can happen from any place, at any time.

Cathy Rigg Monetti, founder and partner of Riggs Partners, started a now-nationwide 24-hour pro bono creative blitz, CreateAthon, from South Carolina. "Great ideas can happen anywhere," she says. "You have to let it grow and you have to nurture it. And you have to be willing to share your great idea."

Susan Smith Ellis leveraged her talents, her network, and the power of marketing for social initiatives. "Go to places where you can effect change from the inside. There’s not one job description for that," Ellis advises the next generation. "You have the ability to drive the change because you won’t work any other way. Use your voice."