TED Talk Tuesday: Rethinking Charity

With my recent work at my PR firm, I’ve focused a lot on corporate social responsibility. It’s got me thinking again about sustainability and how businesses can generate a triple bottom line—soliciting financial, environmental, and social returns (Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!). And yes, huge companies really can do that. In fact, I’m reading a book right now called Everybody’s Business, which argues that huge companies are those best prepared to make an impact because they influence market trends and they have the tools that drive innovation.

A little back story: I was really hesitant to study social entrepreneurship, partly because I didn’t want to take a class with AB (for obvious reasons not at all limited to the small detail that we’re both incredibly competitive) and partly because I thought all that “do-gooder” stuff was idealistic. How, in a post-2008 world, can a company rely on donations from strangers? But my professor showed me that there are ways to get-‘er-done that make financial sense, too. So I drank the Kool Aid and jumped onto the CSR / triple return bandwagon and never looked back…

Until Dan Pallotta made me take an even deeper look. Philanthropies (which run on donations) aren’t a hopeless model, he argues. It’s just that we expect them to fix problems without the resources of huge companies. We expect them to draw talent without proper incentives. We expect them to have a zero balance at the end of the year, and spend a minimal amount on “overhead.” He argues: Why do we let for-profit companies “invest” in long-term R&D and initiatives, build their brand and team and resources…but not non-profits?

Oh, and he does it all with some endearingly self-deprecating humor. Enjoy!

#21for21st: How I celebrated my 21st birthday!

IMG_3381(NOTE: I’m posting this prematurely, but it’s been quite time consuming. I will finish all 21 acts and add links and updates periodically—It’s an ongoing project!!)

I’m finally 21! After legally being able to purchase booze in Europe, it was a little frustrating to return to the good ole’ US of A. Sometimes a girl just wants some wine, yo.

On previous years, I’ve drafted up lists of (typically cheesy) “Things I’ve learned in my __ years,” but that seems silly for some reason. I have learned many things in the past 21 years: one of which is that I don’t like using cliches. It’s… cliche.

Plus, this birthday is no ordinary birthday. It’s the big 2-1. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely had myself a good time when the clock stuck midnight on the night of my birthday. I more or less shoved my ID in the face of the bouncer, happy as a skunk to be legal. FINALLY. But everyone does that…

Not everyone decides to spend their birthday summer doing charity. I mentioned my plan a little before, but here’s the gist: 21 acts for my 21 years. Sooo much better than 21-things-I’ve-learned-that-are-maybe-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away-somewhat-relavent. I was inspired by a blog post I found on Pinterest, and decided to do my own little version. As previously mentioned, my goal is to vary the methods (money, races, goods, volunteer time), and the recipients. So without further ado, ladies and gents:

The 21 Acts of Kindness/Charity for my 21st Birthday (in no particular order):

IMG_33721. Buy a Boston Strong shirt.

I started drafting ideas for this list shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings. After the Boston Strong concept popped up (about 3.2 nanoseconds after the first explosion), hundreds of companies and students and Etsy designers started distributing designs, with some or all of the proceeds going towards the One Fund Boston. But today, as I was walking home from the Women’s Lunch Place (see below!), I stopped in on a pop-up charity sale with the proceeds going to OFB (which—as a brief aside—has raised almost $50 million!!). I found the most perfect shirt, produced by Marathon Sports (the store where one of the bombs went off) with a little design on the back of the intersection.

Recipient: One Fund Boston, me (I mean, I got a super soft, cute, patriotic shirt of awesomeness).

photo (7)2. Volunteer at a Red Sox game.

I’m actually doing this twice—once on my own when the Red Sox play the San Diego Padres (whom  no one else cares about), and then again with my parents when my family comes to visit later this summer. It’s a great setup that I learned about through my sorority: they feed you, then you sell raffle tickets for the first 7 innings—the proceeds of which go to the Red Sox Foundation, and then you’re free to watch the rest of the game at no cost. Awesome, right?

Recipient: Red Sox Foundation, me (I mean, I get to see a game. For free).

UPDATE: My friend Pitu came with me last minute and we had so much fun! We got great seats, post-volunteering (I could almost touch the monster), and finished our night with yummy, yummy beers at Yard House!

IMG_33803. Volunteer with Captain America at The Women’s Lunch Place.

Hi, this is my “besfrenn,” who will henceforth be referred to as Captain America or CA. Since many of my friends decided to ditch town this weekend, I asked him to come up from New Jersey and play with me—and he happily obliged. Best person ever, right? I also asked him to come with me to volunteer at WLP on Newbury Street, a pet charity of mine. We were originally slated to run BINGO, but instead we raffled off prizes to the wonderful women, and then organized their “freebie” closet. I might even go in once a week or so to organize their closet! It was simple work but fun nonetheless, and I had fun with my besfrenn!

Recipient: The Women’s Lunch Place, me (I mean I got to hang out with CA). Continue reading

The Woofers Potato Farm …?

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 11.12.57 AMMY BIRTHDAY

For my 21st birthday (finally!), I was inspired by this blog post, and am planning 21 Random(ish) Acts of Kindness to be completed during the week of my birthday. I’ll be collecting and donating clothes to benefit veterans, collecting and donating books to Massachusetts jails, volunteering to run BINGO at one of my favorite pet charities in Boston—The Women’s Lunch Place, running a 5K for hunger (more information to come!!)… I’m trying to vary both the act itself (donating funds vs. time vs. goods), as well as the recipients as much as possible. My hope is to make this an annual thing(!), challenging myself every year to come up with innovative and creative new ways to spread the love.


Njabini Apparel is a Boston- and Providence-based company that sells chic accessories and housewares. The products are made by mothers in Njabini, Kenya, who don’t have any other means of income. The revenues go towards paying the mothers four times the national average, funding educational and micro-lending programs, and supporting additional “do-gooder” projects. Recently, Njabini Apparel announced a new project—The Potato Project. Njabini is a social enterprise that I’ve worked with before. I wrote an article about them for The Boston Globe, and have since kept in contact with co-founder Mike Behan about the company’s progress.


As part of my birthday festivities, I will be hosting a Njabini party (similar to a tupperware party, complete with homemade appetizers and a Njabini-tini!). However, I want to do even more. Njabini is trying to raise $35,000 in the next two months in order to fund a new program that would help potato farmers in the area. I want to help them raise those funds. I encourage individuals to donate on their own (and reap the prizes!), but I am also interested in pooling funds: If any one person or party donates $250, they can name one of the potato farms in Kenya. I think $250 is a very reasonable number. If each person I know can donate $10, we can easily make an incredible influence. Plus, it’s my intention to match donations as much as I can manage. I can think of no better name than the Woofers Potato Farm (though I am very receptive to suggestions, nonetheless!).

Please join me in celebrating my upcoming milestone! The 60-day fundraiser ends during the week of my birthday, so the timing is serendipitous. If you’re interested in participating, please contact me and we can coordinate the best way to transfer/pool funds.


For those, who don’t know the significance of “Woof” in my life, it was my father’s nickname, as well as a call to friends and family. It’s the Daniells’ version of “Aloha” and has survived multiple generations and continents—Let’s bring it to Africa!