Innovation

Exclusive Ideagen Interview with Causecast CEO Ryan Scott

Causecast: Changing Employee Engagement

Exclusive Ideagen Interview with Ryan Scott, CEO and Founder of Causecast

Our interview with Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of Causecast was enlightening. Causecast is an organization that works to “to connect companies and their employees with the causes they care about. Our Community Impact Platform provides an efficient means to set up, manage and track workplace giving and volunteering programs, while our Causecast For Nonprofits tool helps nonprofits connect with businesses using our platform at no cost to them.” Mr. Scott informed us that many clients use Causecast’s system for “recruiting and retention purposes. Recruiting and retention are the real business needs they can measure and something all businesses are struggling with right now. Ultimately, because of financial incentives, retaining top-level employees who are involved with the company’s corporate social responsibility programs will increase the impact they’re going to have on the world.” In short, “Causecast is kind of a conspiracy to get companies to give more by providing an economic incentive to do so.”

It is evident that Causecast’s work is vital to employee satisfaction. While thinking about the idea that began Causecast, Mr. Scott “kept thinking there must be a more scaleable way I could make a bigger impact. I took a close look and found that businesses that let their employees volunteer and give back averaged a 90% employee satisfaction rate. Sixty percent of job seekers wanted to work for a socially responsible company, especially the younger generations. There was some sort of economic incentive there, but what were companies doing about it? As a software developer, I set about to create an engaging volunteer and giving experience that would be fun for employees to use. I wanted to build something that inspired employees to invite each other to give back, instead of leaving it to corporations to send an email saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing this on Saturday.’” In this way, Causecast is working to create an employee-friendly program. This has required altering their business platform over the years. Mr. Scott described this change, saying, “We took about a year and a half to respond to the evolving challenges of corporate volunteer programs by rewriting the software from scratch, which was released around January of this year. Since then, we’ve experienced a rapid stage of bringing clients on at an ever-increasing rate, and it’s been a great ride.”

Mr. Scott also described Causecast’s efforts to track the impact of volunteer service, rather than simply volunteer hours. He said, “It’s important because you can’t change things that you can’t measure. That’s why we built a mechanism for tracking impact inside of the platform. Much of this feeds back into storytelling. There’s really not a story behind hours, but individual stories resonate. If you’ve got 5,000 people out in the community volunteering, you have 5,000 stories. And if they’re out taking photos and videos and telling their story and pushing it on social media, you’ve got a much more powerful engine for change because people are inspired by those stories. Causecast’s Story Capture feature helps facilitate this, and our clients use it to compile stories of impact.”

Cross-sector cooperation is an important area of discussion for us at Ideagen. Mr. Scott spoke to the importance of cross-sector collaboration as a non-profit business, saying, “When nonprofits work with businesses to create economic and social value, they bring scale to the social value creation. That’s what’s really missing in the nonprofit sector right now. There’s a lot of talk about it - partnering with businesses or using some of the techniques that businesses have learned over the years. That kind of working together allows both sectors to do more from what they’ve learned from each other, and provide the scale big enough to solve complex problems. I think cross-sector collaboration is the only way that we’re going to solve the social issues we face. It’s absolutely critical.”

While discussing future challenges, Mr. Scott emphasized the issue of population control, calling it “one of the paramount issues we face.” He said, “The more people live on the planet, the greater the stress on the environment. There’s tremendous concern about how we’re using the planet, but the starting point of this discussion should be around how many people Earth is supporting. We are using the equivalent of four planets right now. I’m not advocating for the population to decline in some unnatural way, but the population will decline naturally if you do one thing: educate girls. If we can focus on educating girls, we’ll see right away that the population will drop to a place where the planet becomes more sustainable, regardless of the other necessary measures we need to take to improve sustainability.”

When asked about Causecast’s upcoming projects, Mr. Scott told us about a service that will grant “all of our clients’ employees the opportunity to get involved with nonprofit board service, which is typically an opportunity exclusive to VPs and executives. Board service is a great way to utilize and bolster skills gained on the job to help non-profits on a higher level. There’s an organization that we’re working with for this project called CariClub.”

He concluded, “We’re working with so many companies that are bringing fresh creativity and energy to volunteering and giving. I’m excited to continue to find new ways to bring employees into the fold of their company’s social mission and narrowing that gap between bottom lines and greater purpose.”

08/24/2015 06:28 pm ET

Saving Lives Through Invention! An Ideagen Exclusive Interview with Maurizio Vecchione, Senior Vice President of Global Good and Research at Intellectual Ventures

Maurizio describes Global Good as, “A collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates that is designed to bring the power of invention to the base of the pyramid, in economic terms, that make up the majority of the population of the planet. We are focused on those kinds of innovations that lead to practical, important inventions that at the end of the line improve the lives of the poorest people on Earth.”

When asked about Global Good’s approach to inventing technology in developing countries, Maurizio explained that one of the biggest challenges is to figure out what problems are “appropriate to be technology-based interventions.” As a part of this effort, Global Good works closely with organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to understand these challenges and how its expertise in invention can help save lives.

“We have countless problem sets that are very important and do need solutions but are not technology or invention driven solutions. Part of our process internally, or with the help of a partner, is to define the problems, define those gaps, identify the gaps that are indeed technology gaps and then focus on those essentially looking at what is the impact that that gap filling exercise, that technology or that science will bring to the table.”

Using this approach, Global Good has created a number of truly world changing inventions that address some of humanity’s toughest problems. For example, more than 23 million children do not receive routine immunizations annually and more than 1.5 million children under age five die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. This is partially due to limitations in the temperature-controlled supply chain that’s needed to prevent vaccines from spoiling between their point of manufacture and their use.

In response, Global Good invented the Arktek, a “super thermos” that overcomes traditional infrastructure and logistics barriers to bring vaccinations to those living in the most remote areas “It’s a thermos that can keep the vaccines for a population, a village of approximately 6,000 people, which happens to be a good target size for a lot of these rural communities. It can keep the vaccines cold for over a month without any use of electricity at the beginning. Essentially you load it with ice at the beginning and then you go 30 or 40 days...being able to pull the things in and out... without ever having to plug the thing in.”

Global Good has helped a large number of countries with their inventions. Including Ethiopia with their vaccination thermos and Kenya with a “food-grade plastic milk jug.” This milk jug, “has unlocked the ability for these farmers to store and transport the milk to collection points so they went from sustenance farming... to being commercial farmers, where they can actually make an income.”

At Ideagen, cross-sector collaboration and partnerships are the centerpiece of our work to address many of the world’s most vexing issues. Maurizio as well as the team at Global Good believe that partnerships across the sectors can have a huge impact in solving some of today’s challenges. “I do think that public, private, and philanthropic partnership has the potential to really act as a catalyst and accelerator to much of this economic development. Economic development and public welfare are linked.”

Maurizio has learned so many lessons over the course of his career. He calls the most important lessons, the “three A’s.” “Appropriateness is the first A, affordability is the second A, which means make it reasonable in cost, and the third A is access.”

When asked about the future, Maurizio said Global Good would be focusing on primary care. “Primary care is an underserviced area, its underserviced everywhere by the way, not just in the developing world. It is particularly difficult in the developing world and we want to reinvent it. We want to really focus on what are the essential diagnostics, the essential medicine that needs to be in primary care to affect the largest amounts of patients and dramatically improve the effectiveness of those patient encounters.”

The work Maurizio and his team at Global Good are doing is truly profound and inspiring. Their approach is insightful and the good that they are creating is unparalleled.

For more information on Global Good, please visit:

www.intellectualventures.com/globalgood/

For the full exclusive audio version of the interview, click on the link below:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ideagen/2015/05/28/ideagen—exclusive-interview-with-maurizio-vecchione—global-good

08/06/2015 06:47 pm ET