Category Archives: Non Profit

Community Foundation of Utah and Ernst and Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year

This past Friday, I had the great opportunity to attend the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year award. It was an inspiring program to see so many talented and driven entrepreneurs who had been successful in their ventures. Perhaps the most inspiring part of the program was how many of the entrepreneurs shared their “big pie” mentality as a driving force for their success.

I had the unique privelage of sitting at the table with Fraser Nelson, Greg Warnock and a number of successful entrepreneurs and humanitarians. 2009, was the first year that Ernst and Young has ever had a Social Entrepreneur category. Although this year it was limited to only 501(c)3 organizations, (I understand their need to simplify, although I feel strongly that sustainability should be a top priority over classification) I was excited to see the finalists gain recognition for their efforts.

As more and more entrepreneurs are looking to tackle social challenges through innovation and sustainable programs, the Utah Community Foundation has certainly done well to provide a platform for this growing segment. As a sponsor of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year award, the community foundation did well to stress the need of bringing entrepreneurs to the attention that our skills and talents need to reach beyond a single bottom line.

It may come as a surprise to some people, but Utah is the first state in America to have a social entrepreneurship category for the Ernst and Young Award. Hmmm… That’s a pretty big deal I think. Thanks to The Community Foundation of Utah for pushing for it.

I imagine we’ll hear a lot more about the Utah Community Foundation and things move forward. I also think social entrepreneurship will continue to gain momentum within the Non-Profit and For-Profit arenas.

Utah Nonprofits Get a New Perspective of Entrepreneurship

This past week I had the great opportunity to attend part of the Utah Nonprofits Association Conference. The West Valley Cultural Arts Center was busy with hundreds of passionate and dedicated individuals exchanging ideas and working to advance their represented causes.

It is my privilege to attend a lecture led by Alan Hall regarding Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Philanthropy. Although Alan didn’t break very deeply into the mechanics of social entrepreneurship, he very candidly addressed the relationship that sound business practices and experienced business leaders play in successful social innovation. For many in attendance, the thought of applying measurable business practices and working closely with entrepreneurs–or even supporting their ventures was almost unheard of.

“I have to make money if I’m going to give it away” was a simple but clear demonstration of the principle of sustainability.

In describing the mission of Grow Utah Ventures and Island Park Venture, Alan stated that he was actively seeking to nurture and develop other entrepreneurs with the same mission to improve their communities and be stewards of their profits for a higher cause.

The Alan and Jeanne Hall Foundation is part of Alan’s balanced portfolio to direct his dollars and attention to sustainable and measurable impacts throughout Utah.

Successful for-profit and non-profit start-ups (and mature companies for that matter) need to run on the same sound principles of putting the customer (donor) first, having sound financial model, develop a robust vision.

Proscenium: A Monument to Utah Venture Philanthropy

So it looks like Sandy City is on track for the new Proscenium complex to move forward.

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the Proscenium project is the significant portion of Venture Philanthropy that it represents. Adding an arts-and-culture zone to Sandy’s down town business center provides not only a incredible opportunity to develop the culture and perspective of Sandy residents, but the center should prove to be an economic powerhouse for the city.

As I sat down with the founder and visionary (Scott McQuarrie) for this project last week–I was beaming with excitement. Scott described the various components of green technology, social improvement and non-profit integration that are going into this complex.

Although a project as colossal as the Proscenium may seem to cast shadow’s on some of Utah’s smaller social venture projects–I believe it’s affects will be quite the opposite. This development will stand as an ensign to other businesses seeking to incorporate socially responsible components as a glimpse of what is possible.

You’ve got to take a little to give

A good friend once told me that happiness was as much in taking as it is in giving. This may appear to be a simple justification for looking forward to birthday or holiday gifts. But what I’m really interested in is sustainability. I’ve been exploring more about growing businesses and starting new ventures lately and it seems that “taking and giving” is a necessary cycle for successful entrepreneurship.

Giving and taking. Taking and giving. These are sustainable cycles. Taking and taking and giving and giving are guaranteed failures over time.

Although this principle is immediately visible in social entrepreneurship, it is as vital of a component in general entrepreneurship, where fiscal profit alone may be the objective. To start any venture for a beginning entrepreneur requires borrowed human capital. Networks, expertise, advice, trust… It often feels like I’m in deeper debt of human capital than I could possibly give back in a life time. While I try to give back where I can, and as much as I show gratitude it’s probably not enough–still I’ve got a lot more to take if I want to have a lot more to give.

The Road Home… A Service Project Worth Remembering

Tuesday, May 27. Salt Lake City, Utah. Business casual and shiny cars drive cautiously to the shelter. The sign says, “Honk for Donations.” In succession the cars drive through the ominous gate.

I’ve grown up in Salt Lake. But this area of town is unfamiliar. The building and stretch of faces on Rio Grande road almost ask to be forgotten.

We step out of our cars and into the Road Home Homeless Shelter Docking area. It is a small area with a single wide ramp leading to the back of shelter. No pictures are allowed inside. No tours. We look awkward in our business casual dress shoes.

In only a few minutes we unloaded our supplies and we were done.

No fan fare. No smothering thank yous. The books, towels and blankets were delivered.

We walked around the shelter to take some final mental pictures before leaving. The people lined up outside the door looked suspiciously at the passing dockers and collard shirts.

A few moments of introspection. We get back in our cars and drive off to eat and “talk business.”

Not the normal day of work, but certainly a worthwhile one.

The fact is, we were delivering materials as part of a challenge for young entrepreneurs to give back to the community.

Getting the materials was easy. Who’s going to say “no” to sharing their extra substance with the homeless? Some of us went door to door. Some of us asked our friends and neighbors.

We were all able to contribute.

Few people will say no. But how many remember?

How often have I remembered?

The Road Home is Non-Profit based in Salt Lake City, dedicated to providing materials and support for the homeless. Visit their website to learn more about you can help utah’s homeless.

It’s All About The Triple Bottom Line

I have spent the last three years of my life working in the growing segment of businesses known as triple-bottom-line companies or social ventures. According to the Skoll Foundation ( –a foundation based on the principles that strategic investments can lead to lasting social change) a social entrepreneur is: society’s change agent, a pioneer of innovations that benefit humanity.

Although this is a relatively new movement, all around us we see the growing momentum of companies identifying and implementing aspects of social responsibility into their models. This is as much a financial decision as anything else! Dollars spent on social programs can often make more marketing or operational sense than traditional advertising or waste management methods. In these circumstances everybody wins. As society continues to demand more responsibility it continues to pay for companies to develop and demonstrate a competent social strategy.

There is a wealth of knowledge on the subject, best summarized and directed, (In my personal opinion) on Wikipedia. and the internal and external links provide a very good summary. Applying these principles in a business certainly does not have to be a gigantic overhaul, or a substantial change in the business model. Sometimes it’s as simple as a personal change in perspective. Implementing these principles into a business model however, can create lasting strategic partnerships and goodwill that provide a legacy and public image much bigger and better than money alone can provide.

What Can You Take? Reflections of the life of Gordon B. Hinckley

I have rarely, if ever expressed personal sentiments in this blog. I generally reserve those for my private journal and close family and friends. I will deviate today however, in honor of significant event that hit very close to home this past week. Amid the blur of professional and personal commitments, I have taken a moment to ponder about the lives of those who have dedicated–even consecrated–their complete faculties and resources to the service of others. Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and William Wilberforce are among those who memorialized their lives by the successes and prosperity of the millions of people who benefited from their self-less labors. This past week another great Leader and Humanitarian will add to the legacy of historical giants: Gordon B. Hinckley passed away here in Utah on January 27th, 2008. Governor John Hunstman declared all flags lowered to half mast. It has been touching to witness the somber and respectful tone demonstrated from the member and non-member community.

While thinking about his contributions to society and the members of the LDS religion, I reflected upon the magnitude of his legacy. I am truly humbled by his dedication and faith. Not only faith in his religion, but also his faith in humanity. Gordon B. Hinckley never recieved financial compensation for his more than 70 years of service. Gordon B. Hinckly acted out of duty, compassion and love for his Creator and fellow human beings. Gordon B. Hinckley will be greatly remembered for his poverty relief, educational reform for people seeking skills-training in developing countries.

For a full account of his funeral and links about his life and biography, feel free to run a search on youtube or checkout The LDS Church’s official statements regarding his passing.

A fun little service to check out while researching his impact is found at Blog Pulse. This service tracks a persons popularity or coverage by the number of blogs that refer to the individual. On January 28, Gordon B. Hinckley reached third in the world. Pretty impressive for a person who never sought personal attention or publicity.

The reflections of this past week have encouraged me to stand a little taller and work a little harder as I work to contribute to society and my personal development. Regardless of religious affiliation, President Gordon B. Hinkley’s wit and dedication deserve great respect. I hope to carry even a fraction of his awesome legacy as I work to develop my personal talents and use them to benefit mankind.

iPhone Gets Hacked… Businesses and Individuals Need to Protect Themselves

The iPhone may seem like an immortal device, (check out this YouTube iphone spoof) but even it has its weaknesses. The New York Times has just released an article that states the iPhone has a security hole that allows remote control or hazing/fisching with fake websites. We knew it was bound to happen. It kinda reminds me of the line in Jurassic Park where Malcolm, (played by Sam Neill) says, “Nature will find a way”. But really when it comes to hacking, “People will find a way.”

The iPhone is the perfect item to hack as well. Limited supplies and relatively high-costs, (for a smartphone) mark its users as targets: Not only as die-hard Mac fans (for Steve Jobs’ next big product), but also as people with money who do a number of transactions over the internet. Intercepting or placing spyware could be very valuable to information theives. In addition to getting credit card information or typing histories, think of how great it would be to also pick up names, numbers, pictures, email addresses and more–all conveniently stored in the same location.

Identity theft has a long history. (Check out this wikipedia article.) The increased danger of hacked identity is more than a Hollywood storyline, (although The Net was a fun movie and one of Sandra Bullock’s better performances). The truth is that the advent of new technology is raising risks not only in the depths of thefts, but also in the breadth and number of people who can be affected.

For now, Apple has released information on a plug-in that can help patch the problem. Check out for more information. But really, big brothers, (like the NSA) or little brothers (like local scam artists) can be tough to shake.

Here’s a website that offers great information on how to protect yourself from scams and hacking. Anyone who does business or shares information should be familiar with information theft and its prevention. Check out the ID Theft Center website and the FTC Identity Theft website for more information.

Really though, we can’t live our lives in fear. The main thing is: be careful what unsecured wi-fi networks you join. And if we’re going to do business and live anyhow, why not do it with an iPhone?

Can a business-man not be a hit-man?

I just finished reading the book, Confessions of An Economic Hitman by John Perkins.

It was a fascinating novel with a very basic and well supported premise: Giant corporations work with the government to secure large contracts and make lots of money.

As a student of international business and development, I find myself torn in his analysis. I do agree with his logic that we could spend more money on relief and less on defense contracts. I do agree that the greed of giant corporations is creating a significant imbalance in world perceptions. I do not completely know (yet) if giant MNE’s are really such a bad thing. What about the shrinking world of Thomas Friedman? Don’t more McDonalds means less wars? Although I do question John’s zealous efforts to label himself as an Economic Hit Man, I believe the patterns he discussed do exist. I’m still struggling with the complete assault on Friedman economics.

I think before going into more analysis I need to read some of the basic documents of the United States of America, to get a more clear understanding of the ideals that John Perkins frequently made reference.

I do not endorse this book as revolutionary truth, but it is a thought provoking read for anyone involved in business. John Perkins does a great job to illustrate the three major relationships that exist in all business ventures, big or small, domestic or international: The interworkings of Companies/Products, Governments and Consumers/Workers.

Really though I would enjoy to hear the thoughts and experiences of others…

Life Line-Umbilical Non-Profit

My wife and I have been doing a little research into the options of preserving our upcoming baby’s umbilical cord. I cannot believe the prices of preserving these cords. The low packages start just under 2,000 dollars and then charge another 5,000 dollars to store the cord over a 40 year period. Also the number of people doing it is relatively small, so the if your cord doesn’t match, then you might run into problems getting one to work.

I once spoke with a very wealthy individual who was in the process of setting up a rather substantial non-profit. His organization is going to do amazing things to help the people of this world. During our conversation he said something that I’ll never forget. He said, “Look John, at the end of the day, a non profit is about money. If you can’t fund it, you don’t have one.”

Umbilical cords, like blood and plasma, are things you can’t just sell. (Contrary to popular belief, you donate plasma and they compensate you for your time). Yet, when a hospital or pharmaceutical industry buys blood or plasma, that is extremely expensive. There’s a reason why the Red Cross can afford to pay its executives so much.

My first impression is that a non-profit that stores umbilical cords would easily be able to acquire them. (My wife and I would donate our child’s.) This increase of supply would almost certainly lower the per unit cost of preservation. In addition what is the value of finding a cord that matches an individual’s needs? That blood would also be very valuable and would certainly be able to help fund some of this venture. In addition to that, wouldn’t it be awesome to help so many people?

This is an undertaking I would love to be involved in, although right now I’m pretty busy battling global illiteracy. If anyone has heard of a social venture like this taking place, please let me know.