Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Have Fun Do Good Link Love: Right Brain Business Plan, Blog Action Day, and Oprah


Below is a roundup of blog posts and podcast interviews I've published since my last Have Fun Do Good Link Love (where did the month go?):

6 posts on WEtv's WE Volunteer blog:

3 posts on the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship blog: and Crowdsourcing: A Chat with Peter Koechley on The Extraordiaries blog

The 16th episode of Echoing Green's Be Bold Podcast: Create a Career with Impact (I'm the show's host).

4 Steps for Selling Your Art: Interview with Alyson B. Stanfield, on the Arts and Healing Podcast


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Friday, September 25, 2009

Change Starts at Home: Empowering Women to Change the World

While reading through profiles of local women entrepreneurs in the new CRAVE SF Bay Area guide this week, I marked the page for Change Starts at Home to share with y'all.

Change Starts at Home is a website that, "educates, inspires, and empowers women to change the world by easily making changes in their own lives." One of its regular features is monthly profiles of changemakers like:

The site also shares other economic, environmental and socially themed stories like:

If you have an article you would like to submit to Change Starts at Home, or a nonprofit that you would like them to know about, email them at

Cross-posted from

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blogging & Storytelling PowerPoint

I just finished co-presenting a "Storytelling" session at NTEN's WeAreMedia Webinar with Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications. Michael talked about how nonprofits can use video to tell their stories, and I talked about blogging.

You can see PowerPoints and notes from all of the sessions (Listening/Engaging, Storytelling, Generating Buzz, and Online Networking) on the WeAreMedia wiki, and I've embedded my Blogging and Storytelling presentation below.


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Friday, September 18, 2009

9 Tips for Effective Fundraising Letters

A friend recently wrote to ask:

"Do you have any resources that offer tips on how to write an effective appeal for donations? I'm in charge of writing the annual appeal letter, and I'm beginning to sweat!"

I've never written a fundraising letter, except for the note I wrote to my Facebook pals asking them to donate to my Birthday Wish Cause, but here's some advice from other folks about how to write effective fundraising letters:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy's article, Dear Fund Raiser: Your Appeal is Boring, reports that as part of his doctoral studies, Frank Dickerson, "analyzed more than 1.5 million words of online and printed fund-raising texts to determine how effectively fund raisers communicate with their audiences." His conclusion: fundraising letters are often cold, boring, and academic when they should be warm, friendly, and full of engaging stories.

Tip 1: Be warm and friendly.
Tip 2: Tell stories.

In her post on eJewish Philanthropy, How to Write a Powerful Fundraising Appeal: A Lesson from Keshet, Gail Hyman posts a long list of tips including:

Tip 3: Use a personalized greeting (i.e. Dear Britt).
Tip 4: Bold key phrases to make it easy for readers to scan the letter.
Tip 5: Have a clear call to action.

In her post, Marketing 101: How to Write a Fundraising Letter, Katya Andresen of Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog, analyzes the first lines of three fundraising letters. Katya advises, "an A+ letter grabs you from the first line by speaking to your values and presenting you with a compelling reason to act that is relevant to those values. It feels personal."

Tip 6: Make your first line(s) count.

Joanne Fritz's article, How to Write Better Fundraising Materials on about Tom Ahern's book, How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money is full of good advice including:

Tip 7: Use lots of photos.
Tip 8: Share something new the reader might not know (i.e. a statistic, or an emerging trend).
Tip 9: Answer readers' questions (i.e. How will my money be spent?).

What other advice and/or resources do you have for my first-time fundraiser friend?

Cross-posted from

Flickr photo credit: Money, Money, Money uploaded by borman818

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I'm Starting the Joy Diet

Jamie Ridler Studios has this fun, online book blogging event she hosts every once in a while called The Next Chapter. I decided to join the group this time while they read The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.

Each week I'll read a chapter from the book, and write a short post about it here--at least, that is my intention (:

This first chapter is about "Nothing." For 15 minutes each day this week I'm supposed to do nothing. No-thing. Nada. I'm telling your right now, it's not going to be easy for me, which is why it is a good idea to try!

For more information, and to join this session of The Next Chapter, click here.

Wish me luck doing nothing!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

8 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs

Next week I'll be teaching a session about blogging during a nonprofit social media webinar, We Are Media, presented by NTEN. As part of my preparation, it seems like a good time to update my 2006 post, 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Us Blogs, and my 2007 post, 10 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs and Bloggers to Support Their Cause.

I've consolidated down to 8 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Blogs, and added new examples. What "ways" am I missing?

1. Share your expertise

Think about all of the brainpower and expertise within your organization's staff, board and volunteers. Why not share their knowledge on your blog?

Example: The Environmental Defense Fund's blog, Climate 411, "is the voice of the experts at Environmental Defense Fund, providing plain-English explanations of climate change science, technology, policy, and news."

Example: Volunteer Match's Engaging Volunteers blog is running a series about Boomer Engagement: Build Your Organization's Capacity, Even in Times of Scarcity.

Example: The Case Foundation's Blog includes posts from multiple staff members, including Jean Case, and guest bloggers.

2. Share breaking news within your field

Chances are someone on your staff is already bookmarking and forwarding news stories about your issue each day. Take it a step further and share their news story links on your blog.

Example: The Chronicle of Philanthropy's blog, Give and Take, provides fantastic daily roundups about nonprofits and philanthropy.

Example: Service Nation's Change Wire blog posts weekly, Monday Service News Roundups.

3. Share the story behind your brand

Whether you are a large, established organization, or a small grassroots project, you are constantly asking your supporters to trust that you will use their money and time to do good. One way to build trust is to write with an authentic and personal voice on your organization's blog. Share your challenges and successes. Share your reasons for working there. Share who you really are (photos from the staff holiday party excluded).

Example: When Kjerstin Erickson, Founder of FORGE, blogged about her organization's struggles on Social Edge, she received an outpouring of support, plus stories in the San Francisco Chronicle and Wall Street Journal.

Example: The Extraordinaries' occasionally publishes posts with photos of when their staff are waiting for something (i.e. post office line, doctor's appt.) as examples of when you could be using their micro-volunteer iPhone application.

Example: Echoing Green's Spark Blog, which usually covers news about social entrepreneurship and their Fellowship program, posted last spring how it took, "Three Echoing Green staffers, two good Samaritan cheerleaders, and one brave man," to rescue a cat hiding under a van outside their offices.

4. Share your community's opinions

For better or worse, your supporters have opinions. Why not provide a space for them to share their ideas and resources on your blog? There are two ways this can happen:. 1. allow comments. 2. allow the community to contribute to the blog.

Example: Anyone can publish a blog post on the NetSquared Community Blog and Social Actions' social network,

Example: The Acumen Fund blog recently posted that, "Based on some feedback from our readers," they are going to change the focus of their blog. "We have had conversations on and offline about the value of our blog series, and it seems as though we are becoming a little too didactic (fair argument). So as a result, we have decided to take your advice and focus on something a little more practical."

5. Share notes and photos from events

Each year one or more members of your staff probably goes to a conference, or perhaps your organization puts on events. Either way, share your notes, photos, and presentations from the events as a service to your supporters, and to document them for your staff.

Example: Diana Ayton-Shenker recently posted on the Fast Forward Fund blog, "I'm looking forward to the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) where I'll be blogging both for FFF and on" She asked her readers, "What are the top questions or issues you'd like to see raised at CGI re: next-gen social investors, innovators, and change-makers? Who are the top people you'd want to meet?"

Example: The Craigslist Foundation announces podcast recordings from their Nonprofit Boot Camp on their blog each week.

6. Share notes and photos from the field

Although a lot gets done behind a desk in a nonprofit, usually the heart and soul of your work is in the field. Posting photos and stories "on the ground" can be an exciting way to engage your supporters in your work.

Example: Rainforest Action Network posted photos and videos from a banner drop at Niagra Falls on their blog, The Understory.

Example: UNICEF USA uses its blog, FieldNotes, to, "quickly report from the field, alert you to media coverage of interest, and share the success of UNICEF's lifesaving work around the globe."

Example: Interplast's volunteers publish blog posts and photos about the surgeries they assist with like the post, Fernando, by Loan Le, a volunteer anesthesiologist.

7. Share organizational news as it happens

The beauty of a blog post, unlike an e-newsletter or print newsletter, is that it can be written and published quickly and immediately. You can even go back into a post after it's published and add an update. Your blog shouldn't include only news about your organization, but it should definitely include some. Efficiency tip: Recycle the posts your write on the blog into your electronic and print newsletter.

Example: Green for All posted about how Green for All Supports Local Green Jobs Corps in Tennessee.

Example: First Book posted about Baking and Books: Baking for Good Supports First Book.

8. Use it as your website

Blogs can be a great website option for a small organization that may have limited funds and/or limited tech expertise. Plus, Google loves links and updated content, which is what blogs are all about, so having a blog can help your search ranking.

Example: Urban Sprouts uses a Blogger blog as its website. They use blog posts as website pages, and have links for supporters to volunteer, donate, and RSVP for garden tours in the sidebar.

Full disclosure: I have affiliations with many of the nonprofits mentioned above.
Cross-posted from

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Nurturing Inner City Entrepreneurs: Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

"One of the things that we make sure that everyone understands from the beginning is that we have a give back clause. The more successful you are, the more you have to give back." -- Jose Corona, Inner City Advisors

Jose Corona is the Executive Director of Inner City Advisors, a nonprofit that helps build sustainable and responsible inner city businesses that create quality jobs, reinvest in the community, and contribute to the local economy. Their clients include companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, Numi Organic Tea, Premier Organics, and Revolution Foods.

Prior to Inner City Advisors, Jose served as the development director for five years at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that provides microenterprise business technical assistance and neighborhood planning services to small businesses. He was recently named 2009 Young Professional of the Year by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Jose sits on various economic development boards: the Oakland Workforce Investment Board, the Bay Area Business Advisory Board of Directors for the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, and the OneCalifornia Bank Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of The East Bay, OBDC Small Business Finance, and People's Grocery.

Below is an edited transcript of my Big Vision Podcast interview with Jose in late August. To start, Jose talked about what Inner City Advisors is, and what makes them special. You can also listen to our conversation on iTunes.

Jose Corona: Inner City Advisors is an organization here in Oakland that was founded in 1996 by Professor Michael Porter at Harvard Business School. He created an initiative in 1996 called the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. His whole premise was to see how you use the market and business to revitalize neighborhoods. What we do here in Oakland, and throughout the Bay Area, is we work with inner city companies that not only have a scalable model, but also have a social responsibility aspect built into their business model. We don't seek out socially responsible companies. We look at companies that are doing good.

How we define doing good is how they benefit the community where they operate: hiring people in the communities, paying above living wages. We feel that that is the strategy to drive economic development and community development in a neighborhood.

What makes us special, I think, is the caliber of consulting that we do. We have a talented group of entrepreneurs that we work with all the way from Numi Organic Tea to Blue Bottle Coffee, to Premier Organics, and many others in different sectors. They are socially responsible and environmentally responsible companies, but are in need of some additional assistance, mostly strategic advice, that helps them scale to the next level.

I think where we get our competitive advantage is that the caliber of our advisors is far and above any kind of advice that you find out there. And we do it for free. We are pretty selective on the companies that we work with, and because we offer it for free is we are pretty limited on our capacity.

Britt Bravo: So, if I came to you and said, "Hey, I have this business that I want to start. I'm going to be green. I'm going to be great here in Oakland. First of all, how would you choose me, or not choose me? If you did choose me, what do I get?"

We look for several things. The companies that we look at are companies that first of all, we believe in. We're all about building relationships, so we have to believe in the entrepreneur, or the team that comes to us. If you came to us with an exciting idea and we felt a connection to you, and felt that you were the right entrepreneur to take it to that level, that's how we start.

Then we look for, of course, location. It has to be an inner city community. We define that as a low to moderate income location, essentially. If you look at somewhere like Oakland, it's everywhere but the hills. Everything below 580 is inner city community.

We look at the potential to scale, not only financially, but more importantly, to create jobs. We don't work with start-ups. You have to have shown some track record of success, or at least have been in operation for a minimum of two years.

The due diligence that we do is pretty extensive. We look at financial statements. We look at business plans. We interview the teams. We go to your site. We try to get a good feel for what your company is like, and what their potential for growth is.

There is an application process. There is a due diligence process where a committee from the Board does more extensive due diligence on your company. Once that passes, and the Board approves you as a portfolio company, what you get is a team of advisors.

Each company that we work with gets between three and four experts based on your industry, or the area of need. For example, if you are a food company, you would get someone like Jim Harris who is a board member of ICA.

He is a former COO of Scharffen Berger Chocolate. He has a track record of success. He has grown companies. He has advised other companies on how to grow. He's been an entrepreneur himself. You're getting advice from someone who has been there and done that. It is not someone who just came out of business school who learned everything from the academic perspective, from the theory. We really try to give our advice from the practical side of it. It is someone who has that practical experience in running a business, or working with people and helping them grow a business.

You get ongoing support that is not on a limited time basis, but is on an ongoing basis. As long as you are growing, as long as you are creating jobs, we continue to help you. The advisors are working with you on a monthly basis, on a quarterly basis doing presentations to the Board, and we track your impact.

We make sure that you are growing both financially, that you are creating jobs, and that you are giving back to your community. That is very important to us, and we outline that from the beginning. We actually have an MOU, a term sheet, that we sign with each of our companies that outlines what you can expect from ICA, and what we expect from you.

One of the things that we make sure that everyone understands from the beginning is that we have a give back clause. The more successful you are, the more you have to give back. That's our expectation. If it's too onerous for the company, then that's good, because it is not the right company for us.

We are looking for the company that really wants to give back to the community, and give back to the community locally too. There are a lot of companies that give to international causes, which is great. We love it. We love people that look for fair trade for the farmers overseas, and supporting a bamboo village in China. That is all good and great. On top of that, we expect you to give to your community here.

If you're in Oakland, how are you benefiting the community of Oakland? That's our expectation. Are you hiring locally? Are you using local suppliers? How much do you pay? Do you provide health benefits? Do you support your local educational systems? All of those kinds of things at a local basis are really important to us.

We outline those from the beginning. Most of the companies that come to us are already there, so it is not a hard sell. It's just encouraging them in how to do it better, and how to do it strategically so that it fits within their business.

When I looked on your site I saw Extreme Pizza, which at least here, is kind of a biggish company, I mean, there is more than one store, and then there's Bluebottle Coffee, which is also big, and Numi Tea. Those are pretty established brands. Is there a particular size that you work with?

Our sweet spot is companies between one and three million. Most of the companies that come to us are at, or about a million. Numi has been in our portfolio for about four years. We've seen their growth. They are at a point where we consider them a partner company.

What that means to us is a company that has reached 15 million in revenues, has been profitable for four consecutive quarters, and has been cash positive for four consecutive quarters. That's why we do the tracking. To us, that's a successful company. At that point, they can afford services.

We'd rather invest our limited resources in smaller entrepreneurs that need assistance. Bigger companies that have grown and are of scale like Numi and Extreme Pizza are great examples of success for us, but at that point, they can afford services.

They're still part of the ICA family, and they are not totally moved out of the network, but they are at a different level. Again, it's how do we focus on the companies that can really benefit from the advice that we provide? Mostly, it is the smaller companies.

What are the benefits for a company to be in the inner city? You're working with companies that are already here, but do you ever do anything to convince people that they should be here in the first place?

We don't do a lot of attraction services. We don't get companies that are outside of the inner city to locate in the inner city. We really look at the companies that are already here. What we do, and why we focus on the inner city from the beginning is based on Michael Porter's philosophy that there is an inherent competitive advantage to being in the inner city.

Look at somewhere like the city of Oakland. Look at the BART system. The hub of it is Oakland. There is access to transportation. The proximity to the port is very important. There is the proximity to academic institutions in an inner city. There is an available workforce. The reality is that it is sometimes relatively cheaper real estate. There are a lot of advantages of a business locating in an inner city.

The other thing is that a lot of inner cities are part of empowerment zones or enterprise zones where companies that are at a certain scale and profitable can benefit from tax credits, both from the payroll side, if you hire from the inner city, but also if you locate in the enterprise zones. So, there are tax benefits.

Our whole strategy is how do you garnish the competitive advantages of being located in the inner city.

What are the challenges specific to having an enterprise in an inner city?

The biggest challenge that we face, and it's not specific to ICA's companies, is really the perception of what an inner city is. When you mention what an inner city is, a lot of people have a negative connotation. High crime. Dilapidated conditions. The public safety issue is huge. Companies don't want to locate in the inner city because they want safety for their employees.

Just like any other city that we work in, they all have their safety issues. They all have their challenges, but a lot of it is perception. I personally believe that it has a lot to do with the media. They capture the negative stories of the inner city. Why not tell stories about the great things that are happening there like the great companies that are creating a lot of jobs and thriving, and doing great things not only locally, but around the world.

It is those negative perceptions about the inner city that we have to deal with every day. You asked earlier about if we ever get companies that are interested in locating here. We do. That is one of the things that we have to address. How real is the perception that is out there about the crime?

It's real, but it is like any other city. It's like any other urban center that you go to. Every urban community is going to have it. The last thing I'll say about it is that we look at the inner city as an asset rather than as a deficit. The perception in the media is always about the negative perceptions. We look at what are the great things about the inner city. If you look at a business, how can you be a part of that, and revitalize that community?

What is the path that brought you to this work? How'd you get here?

That's a very long story. I came from an entrepreneur family. My dad was, still is, a farm owner. He came in the '70s when there was still the Bracero Program in Mexico. He came in during the summers to work in the strawberry fields in Salinas Valley in the Watsonville area, and then came back.

He is the example of the American dream. He came here, became legal, started buying land, and leveraged the little bit he had back then to create a very successful enterprise in the strawberry business in the Salinas Valley. He put all of my brothers through college.

I went to UC Davis with a biology and chemistry major. I thought that I wanted to be a doctor, so I went to dental school for a year. I hated it and dropped out; and then I got recruited to do some HR work at Macy's. I went through HR there, and eventually became the Bay Area Regional Director of Operations for 12 stores in the Bay Area.

I learned a lot, but I wanted to be connected to, "What's my impact as a person, what's the impact that I'm creating?" Macy's was great, and I think the corporate sector taught me a lot of great skills. But, I wanted to see my direct impact in the communities that I was serving.

A friend of mine was running an organization in San Francisco called the Mission Economic Development Agency. They worked mostly with Latino mom and pop shops in the Mission district. I was there for six years as the Director of Development. I did fundraising. Then I got recruited over here at Inner City Advisors.

I think what I love about this is that it really gets my entrepreneur spirit out there. I love working with entrepreneurs. I love their stories. I love their drive. I know that I can never be an entrepreneur. It is a whole different animal. You talk to the founders of these companies, and hear about how much they work. They live and breathe their business 24x7. We all do that in our own work, but an entrepreneur is relentless. I see that in my dad, and that's how I got attracted to that. I just love their drive.

The work that I am doing right now, for me, it's the perfect job that I want to be doing. What's better than seeing great entrepreneurs building thriving communities as a strategy for community and economic development. You start with one business, and you move to a community, and eventually the vision of ICA is how do we create thriving communities throughout the Bay Area, throughout the state, and throughout the US. How do we get to what we do, do it better, and do it on a much larger scale. That is our inherent challenge. How do we think big? What does big really mean for us?

How do you build strong entrepreneurs? You've talked a little bit about their inherent qualities - a lot of passion, a lot of drive. Kind of like artists, a lot of passion and drive can create great things, but they aren't necessarily sustainable over time. What does an entrepreneur need to build something that's strong and is going to last?

I'm a personal believer that you can't teach someone to be an entrepreneur. You can nurture them, and I think that's what we do. You can go to school and learn about how to run a business, but being a business owner is very different from being an entrepreneur, in my opinion.

I don't think you can teach someone to be an entrepreneur. Someone is born with it. Just like someone is born with a great skill to be an athlete, a world-class athlete, I think entrepreneurs are born that way. What we do is just nurture that, and provide and surround them with the right resources that are going to help them develop their entrepreneurial spirit.

When we look at an entrepreneur and are looking at whether they fit our profile, we have what we call the ICE factor, the Inner City Entrepreneur factor. It's really getting to know the person, the entrepreneur and saying, "Do they really want this? Do they really have that entrepreneurial spirit that's going to create change?" Or are they just a lifestyle kind of business? Are they going to be comfortable with just getting to a certain level, and then taking care of their families and themselves, which is great, but, we are looking for that entrepreneur that's going to want to scale and create change and be more than just that business.

A real entrepreneur has a larger vision. It's more about someone like Ahmed and Reem Rahim at Numi. It's more than just tea, and their business, Numi Organic Tea, it's a larger vision. How do you improve the world? How do you improve the planet? Tea, from the health perspective. They have a large vision. They're artists so they think big.

We want to capture that and we want to nurture that kind of spirit. We do it both through personal mentoring, but also with the right skill sets. A lot of them, like you said, have great passion, great drive. We just need to nurture that business savvy part of it.

So, how do you create a smarter entrepreneur? Not to say that they're not smart already, but just become smarter from the business perspective of it. It's a lot of nurturing that we do. We're not creating entrepreneurs. We're just nurturing them to be better.

What can a city, like Oakland or other cities like it, what can they do to help nurture and support entrepreneurs?

That's a good question. I think one of the things that is missing from cities are policies that support the creation of an environment for a company to thrive and to grow. Too often policy makers and governments make it more difficult for someone to do business in their city than easier.

I think that government really should facilitate an environment that nurtures business development, and then get out of the way. Businesses care about their communities and their cities. They want to do good. They want to improve their communities from the economic perspective, diversity, and social perspective.

So, for me, it's how do policy makers make it easier, make policies that support the growth of entrepreneurs - support them with the resources, with the right policies, with the right environment, and with capital?

How do you support that, and how do you combine that to create strong entrepreneurs? From the small mom and pop shops and taquerias to the larger businesses, and the corporations that are out here. I think there has to be a balance where you put your resources. Too often we give the resources to the communities that have the loudest voice. That's where I think we're missing the boat as stakeholders, and as policy makers.

The inherent problem with the business owners is that they're running their business. They don't have time to raise a stink and go to city hall meetings. That's why you have more homeowners going to these meetings. The business owners are running their business, and that's what they should be doing.

How do we make it easier as a city for them to run their business? It's a challenge, and I don't have the answer. It's something that ICA is starting to get more and more into. We're creating a business council from all of our portfolio CEOs who are coming together and thinking about what some of the policy changes are that can be addressed, and that they can tackle as a group and create that small business voice that's void right now in city halls and other governments outside of the cities. It's really creating that voice, and I think we can facilitate that. It's a big challenge.

You work with folks who are pretty well-established. What advice do you have for listeners or, when this is on the blog, readers, who are budding entrepreneurs in inner cities, wherever they might be, who are just getting started? What are the things, from your experience of working with folks who have become successful, that they need to do?

One thing that I've found that's really important in the smaller entrepreneurs is that there are a lot of resources out there. Really do your research on who can help you. The best advice you're going to get is from another entrepreneur. We don't really have a mentorship model, but how do you find someone who can be a sounding board to you? A lot of people have great ideas. How do you take ideas and put them into action?

I'm a firm believer that someone who has been there, done that, can tell you not only the best practice of how to grow your business, but also the lessons learned. You learn more about the mistakes that people have made. The earlier you find out about what those mistakes are, the better off you're going to be.

There's this saying, "It's all about who you know," I have a different angle to it. "It's really about who knows you." Surround yourself with the people that you know are going to help you grow your business. It can be a nonprofit. It can be other entrepreneurs. It can be the government. It can be other government programs. Explore everything that's out there, and then be really focused on what you want to do.

How do you take that passion that you have, if you're really an entrepreneur, and you want to build that passion? You really have to believe it. You really have to believe it, and you have to do it. Like I said earlier, I think an entrepreneur is born. If you want to be a business owner, you can be a business owner. If you want to be an entrepreneur, and create some great change and have a large vision, you can do that, but, you have to be focused, and you have to be disciplined, and you have to let go of your ego sometimes. You don't know everything.

For people who are listening, how can they support Inner City Advisors?

In many ways. We are always looking for great companies that have large visions and that want to make a lot of impact in their communities. We're Inner City Advisors so we're looking for companies in the inner city.

If there are companies out there that that you think might benefit from ICA's work, I want to encourage them to look at our website. It's going to be revamped soon. There is good information on there about the work that we do. Please refer companies to us.

Also, if there are entrepreneurs out there, or other people, who want to volunteer their time to be advisors and mentors to some of the younger entrepreneurs, we're always looking for high caliber consultants and advisors who want to give between 4-20 hours a month. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to volunteer with ICA.

If there are people out there who want to support a cause that's creating change and that's creating thriving communities, you can support us financially, either through connections through your own networks, through individuals, through foundations, or corporations. We're a nonprofit, so we rely on charitable support to continue our programs. Those are some ways that you can help.

Is there anything that you didn't get to talk about Inner City Advisors? Anything else that you would like to add?

We are a small organization with a large vision. We certainly can't do everything alone. If there are other organizations that work in similar areas, or other entrepreneurs who want to be part of this solution - be a part of the ICA family as well. Just like our entrepreneurs, we need as much help as we can get as an organization. In order to create a thriving community, and wealth and assets in the community, we need to collaborate with other organizations and businesses and individuals that can help us get to that larger vision. It's all about working together.

Full disclosure: My husband and Jose play on the same soccer team (:

Related Blogs & Blog Posts
Solutions for the Inner City
Growth Capital for Inner City Businesses on the JumpStart blog
Business Support for Inner City Areas on Nottingham City Council's blog
Inner City 100 Awards on Susan Labandibar - Activist CEO

Cross-posted from

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Stand with Van Jones. 3 Ways You Can Too.

I'm deeply saddened by the resignation of Van Jones from his position as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council for Environmental Quality.

When I went to see him speak for the first time at the Green Festival in November 2002 about, "Green Jobs, Not Packed Jails," it was the first time in a long time that I felt like the world could be changed for the better. I felt like I could make a difference; like we all could. That day was a key stepping stone on my journey to figure out how I could have fun and do good.

I could point to a lot of blog posts and articles about why Van resigned, and whose fault it is, but as Jakada Imani, the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (that Van co-founded) wrote in an email to EBC supporters today, "Following Van's lead, we're staying focused on solutions . . ."

So, for inspiration I encourage you to listen to an interview I did with Van in April 2007 for the Big Vision Podcast online, or on iTunes. You can also read a transcript of the interview on Have Fun Do Good. It was one of the shows I got the most emails about--people said that they listened to it more than once, that it moved them, that it made them cry. I especially like the part (at around 17 min 58 sec) when he talks about the country needing a, "reverence movement":

"That ability to stand in awe and reverence for what a precious gift it is just to be alive, and just to share this planet with so many other beautiful sister and brother species and nations and neighborhoods. Just that quality of reverence, that is really the gateway through which we can begin to rediscover our capacity to do good."

You can also show your support for Van in three ways:

1. Buy (or borrow), read, and pass on his book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Greatest Problems.
2. Sign a Stand with the Green Jobs Movement petition on Green for All.
3. Join the I Stand with Van Jones Facebook Page.

I encourage you to share your stories about how Van Jones has inspired you in the comments. I'll pull one of the stories out of a hat in a week (September 15th), and send the winner a free copy of The Green Collar Economy. (Be sure to include a way I can contact you in the comments if you win).

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Have Fun Do Good Link Love: TED 2010 Fellowships, 9/11 Day of Service, & Indie Bookstores Using Twitter


I've got 3 new posts up on WE Volunteer:

And 1 new post up on the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship blog (GCCE): How Independent Bookstores Are Using Twitter

The 15th episode of Echoing Green's Be Bold Podcast: Create a Career with Impact is up (I'm the show's host).

Last week I posted a Big Vision Podcast interview with José Corona, the Executive Director of Inner City Advisors. You can listen to it online or download it from iTunes. I'll be publishing the transcript soon here on Have Fun Do Good.

Next month's show will feature an interview with Lisa Witter, co-author of The She Spot: Why Women are the Market for Changing the World.


Be a Blogger for!
on Jobs for Change

Two new Craigslist Foundation Nonprofit Boot Camp Podcasts:
Eight Steps to Community Engagement on the WiserEarth Blog

5 Fun and Fabulous Twitter Tools for Nonprofit Organizations and Activists on Nonprofits 2.0 -

September 9: Facebook Causes Webinar for Nonprofits with Susan Gordon, Causes Nonprofit Coordinator.

September 14-21: Mozilla Service Week

September 16 & 17, 2009: Online Nonprofit Technology Conference: Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission

September 25 (deadline) Applications are being accepted for the TED 2010 Fellowship program

September 30 (deadline) Enter the GreatNonprofits' Youth Thrive Awards 2009

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Friday, September 04, 2009

I Love National Parks, Don't You?

My husband and I love National Parks. Before we were married, we spent several Christmases in Yosemite. We got engaged at the Grand Canyon at the beginning of a road trip across the Southwest where we visited Zion, Arches and Goblin Valley (a very cool State Park). We visited the Channel Islands during our honeymoon, and camped and kayaked there for a couple nights to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday. On our wish list of parks to visit next are Acadia, Redwood and Hawai'i Volcanoes.

As you can imagine, I'm super excited about Ken Burns' new documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, premiering on PBS September 27th (our wedding anniversary!). You can watch a video of Ken Burns talking about the series on

The Sierra Club will provide you with a free one-hour sneak-peak DVD if you host a house party to screen the series for your friends on Sunday, September 20th. (The deadline to sign up is September 13).

Also, if you live near a National Park, or other national public land, you can volunteer to clean up and improve it on September 26th, National Public Lands Day.

For more information about National Parks, check out the National Parks Service and the National Parks Foundation (they have a Twitter feed too, @GoParks).

Also, get inspired for your next National Park trip by viewing the photos from HuffPost Readers' Favorite National Parks, and Top Ten Best National Parks You Don't Know About.

What are your favorite National Parks?

Cross-posted from

Photos: My husband and I in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and the Channel Islands.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I Just Twittered A Critter: Help Dogs and Cats Find Homes

One of my many guilty pleasures is entertainment news and celebrity gossip. While reading one of my guilty pleasure blogs, Ecorazzi: The Latest in Green Gossip, I learned about a fun way to help dogs and cats get adopted in their post, Celebrities Sign up to Twitter a Critter.

To Twitter a Critter, go to and search for a dog or cat that you'd like to encourage your Twitter followers to adopt. Then, click on the Twitter a Critter button. It will create a tweet from your Twitter account with a link to the animal's listing. I chose a Maine Coon kitten in Kings County, California.

I wasn't crazy about the tweet Twitter a Critter auto-generated because it didn't say the location of the animal, or if it was a cat or dog, so I modified it. I hope that animal shelters and animal protection nonprofits will let their supporters know about this fun tool like the folks at The Animal Shelter in Anniston, AL did on their blog.

I just Twittered another critter, a Maine Coon in Oakland named Amos, in the middle of writing this post. I think I'm addicted. Now they just need a "Facebook a Fuzzy Friend" application.

P.S. The blog has a list of Los Angeles wildfire animal shelters and rescues that need help.

Cross-posted from

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