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Press Release: We Partner With The Chicago Lighthouse To Reach Incentive and Promotional Markets

January 26, 2011

Helping Hand Rewards (HHR), a Chicago-based organization that provides business development and marketing assistance to social enterprises, has added The Chicago Lighthouse to its list of mission-driven partners. HHR is helping this important social service agency promote the wall clocks made by Chicago Lighthouse Industries-its modern manufacturing facility employing blind and visually impaired workers-to the corporate, incentive, promotional, and recognition markets.

Since 1906, the Lighthouse has been a national trendsetter in providing educational, clinical, vocational, and rehabilitation services that open doors of opportunity for people with visual impairments. Chicago Lighthouse Industries holds the official contract for manufacturing clocks for the U.S. government. In a given year, it manufactures between 160,000 and 200,000 clocks distributed around the world. The sale of this merchandise helps fund a wide array of social service programs, including the nation’s oldest Low Vision Clinic, a nationally acclaimed school for children with multi-disabilities, an innovative Legal Clinic to help combat discrimination, and a VA program to assist veterans in all 50 states.

Helping Hand Rewards was founded in 2006 by Michael Arkes, CEO of Hinda Incentives. His goal in starting the organization was to stimulate mutually beneficial relationships between businesses committed to social responsibility and social enterprises, like The Chicago Lighthouse, that manufacture and sell merchandise for the sole purpose of giving people in need the knowledge and resources to take charge and improve their lives.

“With the unemployment rate for blind people hovering around 70 percent, there is a tremendous need to support the agencies and organizations working proactively to provide training, job counseling, placement services, and employment opportunities to people with visual impairments,” said Arkes. “Organizations like The Chicago Lighthouse understand the critical and fundamental importance of giving people the knowledge and resources to be economically independent and self-sufficient rather than just giving them a hand-out.”

In addition to The Chicago Lighthouse, HHR partners with nine other social enterprises that primarily focus on creating opportunities for people to overcome barriers to employment and self-sufficiency. Using a zero-based profit structure, HHR provides marketing, business development, and distribution expertise to these partners and helps them connect with potential customers. For more information, visit


Cristiana’s Story

January 14, 2011


During the Motivation Show, Helping Hand Rewards founder Michael Arkes had the opportunity to give a presentation on the benefits of corporate social responsibility for business growth. As part of that presentation, a program participant from Bright Endeavors named Cristiana was able to get up and talk about how her experience with Bright Endeavors (an HHR partner) helped her turn her life around.

The video below is part of that story. Part presentation and part interview. It’s definitely worth taking five minutes out of your day for!

Bieber Gives Back

January 4, 2011


Note: Subscribers may need to click through to see the above video

It may be annoying to keep hearing about him and the hair may too much for some. The truth remains, believe it or not, Justin Bieber is doing a lot of social good out there.

When he’s not clogging up Twitter’s servers, he leverages his success in a positive way by helping support several charity efforts. According to an article found here, Bieber is donating $1 for every ticket sold to his concerts to Pencils for Promise, an organization active in trying to build schools in third world countries. Almost all of his concerts are sold out, so this eventually turns into a significant amount of money.

In addition to concert ticket contributions, the Bieber is also donating money from every album he sells to the Children’s Miracle network. Not only is he getting in on the act but he’s leveraging his rabid fanbase to join him in supporting these causes.

Think what you want of the kid but there’s some good going on behind the hair. None of us have the celebrity power that he does. However, how are you using the influence and resources you have to drive social good? How are others you know?

Dreamforce Gives Back

December 14, 2010


Bags assembled by Dreamforce volunteers for Project Night Night

The Dreamforce conference presented by had plenty of people interested in learning how to use cloud-based products to grow their own businesses. In addition to helping companies make more money, the organizers at Dreamforce also gave those companies a way to give back in the midst of networking.

At several stations that week, partnered with several local humanitarian groups in the San Francisco area to provide quick volunteer projects for Dreamforce attendees. Some of these stations mainly included assembly of different care packages that provided supplies helping such as Stop Hunger Now, World Vision and Project Night Night. One station even gave attendees the opportunity to assemble bicycles in teams, yet I am not aware of which organization that went to help.

The group that particularly caught my eye was Project Night Night. They help provide care packages to give homeless children the supplies that they need for better comfort and education. Volunteering at their station in between sessions, I was able to assemble gift bags for children that included blankets, a toy, and a few books to distribute to children in need. The books available to choose from for the packages included a wide selection – from “Goodnight Moon” to Harry Potter books and even a few teen novels.

Leveraging the thousands of people in attendance at Dreamforce, these organizations were able to make a huge impact for social good with relatively minimal effort by volunteers. If all the attendees (several thousand) took just ten to fifteen minutes to help out, think about the impact these socially responsible organizations were able to make. It’s amazing how tiny contributions can be scaled to make a huge impact.

This is the first instance of active volunteerism I’ve seen at an event like this. Where else have you seen similar events crowdsource social good?

Greyston Bakery Featured on Good Morning America

November 30, 2010


This morning, one of our own partners got a national shout-out thanks to the people at Good Morning America.

As part of their “Countdown to Christmas” series, the theme for today was gifts that gave back. Each set of items featured products whose sales ultimately contributed to either a charity or other social good initiative. What was the first set of products shown in the segment? Do-Goodie brownies from our friends at Greyston Bakery.

The segment explains how Greyston Bakery doesn’t hire people to bake brownies but instead bake brownies to hire people. Greyston employs homeless, recently incarcerated or other impoverished individuals to help make the brownies in their factory. This business model uses the profits to help teach theses individuals job and life skills in order that they may experience a more sustainable lifestyle.

Want to see the Good Morning America clip? Click here or simply follow the link below for the full segment!

“Liking” Social Good

November 8, 2010


When driving social media campaigns, a lot of organizations think of their potential followers as having a “what’s in it for me” type of mentality. As it turns out, a “what’s in it for others” mindset sells equally well – if not better.

A student-run advertising agency called Imagewest has taken that latter mentality in their latest agency fan page campaign. Instead of taking the typical route of providing some sort of incentive for their fan base, they took a different direction. For every fan they gained within a certain time frame, the agency donated supplies to a local animal shelter.

Seeing how fans weren’t receiving anything directly themselves, did this decline interest in their fan page? Absolutely not. Knowing their behavior (Liking Imagewest) was going to help benefit someone else in need,  activity  by followers actually went through the roof. In just a week, the small Bowling Green, Kentucky agency was able to receive nearly 600 new fan page followers.

People aren’t always “selfishly” motivated. The feeling that individuals get knowing that their actions go to help something or someone in need is almost more incentive than actually receiving something themselves. The social responsible incentive Imagewest provided their fans serves as a good model for other businesses looking to influence behavior. How could you influence employee motivation or customer loyalty using a similar socially responsible mindset.

Corporate social responsibility is good for the world and good for business. What do you all think?

Check out and “Like” Imagewest here at

A New Online Community for Nonprofits

November 3, 2010


Those in the nonprofit community are always searching for ways to link up with other non-profit leaders and share ideas. Entrepreneurs in this segment of business face huge challenges – especially in regards to funding – and are always looking for new ways to grow their cause. In this quest, there is a new online community that makes sharing a bit easier.

Chris Brogan of Human Business Works has helped launch a new online initiative for non-profit thought leaders to come together and share knowledge. The new community – 501 Mission Place – is led by leaders in the non-profit sector such as Estrella Rosenberg (the former Director of Development for The Children’s Heart Foundation), Marc Pitman (founder of and others who have years of experience with the same obstacles many others in similar areas find. As described on their welcome page:

“Our forums are a safe place for you to share what you’re doing, get peer-sourced help and feedback when you need it and to give it when you’re able. Whether you’re just starting a non-profit or are the Executive Director of a decades old organization, you’ll find people here who can inspire you, relate to you, have been you, can learn from you or can teach you.”

Though it’s not a free community (requires a $27 month fee) it appears to be a rich resource of thought sharing. What do you all think? Will the $27 a month be worth all the learning?