In ad-tech, it seems like much of our conversation revolves around how to make money: monetization strategies, improving ROI, boosting revenue. Our industry boasts many of the most creative, intelligent minds in the world, sophisticated technological resources and, let’s face it, a lot of dough. It is our responsibility; in fact, it is the responsibility of all global industries, to take some of those resources and put them to use saving the world.
Now, before you think I’m preaching down to you from atop my high horse, hear me out. The fact is, all businesses are part of a community, be it local, national or global, and being part of that community means doing your part to help support it as a whole. For a global industry like ad-tech, there are opportunities on every scale for us to use some of our intelligence, creativity, money and technology know-how to give back to the community that built us.
“Think globally, act locally” isn’t just a bumper sticker on every hippie VW minibus on the highway; it’s actually a really great way for people and organizations to approach philanthropy. Those who may not quite know where to start can simply look in their own home base for opportunities to help out. The unfortunate fact is that one doesn’t have to look too far beyond one’s own nose to find someone in need.
My personal causes include sitting on the boards of the Hebrew Educational Society (non-profit community center) and Children’s International, where I was gratified to lead development of a community center in Guayaquil, Ecuador. These have been immensely fulfilling for me on a personal level, but for organizations, there can be even more opportunities to give back.
At CPXi, we have made it a priority to devote time and resources to charitable causes, and that’s a great place for organizations to get their feet wet. Make it company policy to provide employees with paid/no-penalty time off to do charitable work. In your offices, provide donation bins for employees to bring in clothes, canned goods, toys, etc. to donate to local homeless shelters. Organize company-wide “giving back” days, where all employees can work together to contribute to a cause such as rebuilding community schools, company 5ks, holiday soup kitchens or animal adoption drives. Get feedback from your crew on the causes that are important to them and decide on a few your whole company can get behind.
All of that can be done at any organization in any industry, but what about us tech geeks? Consider the power of technology in the modern world, how instrumental social media has been in global politics, how a simple screen and internet connection can revolutionize education in developing countries. Technology makes the modern world run, and a lot of us take it for granted, but it can hold immense significance for those who have not had access to it.
So put your company’s specialty to work for some good other than making money. Social media companies – what about an app that drives incremental donation to clean water in Africa every time someone downloads it? Advertisers – how about digital campaign tie-ins with St. Jude’s (for free, of course) that easily link to where users can donate. Publishers – Use the power of the page. Donate inventory for related/relevant organizations to use for advertising. As I said before, it’s not hard to find people in need, and the best place to look for a way to help them is in your own wheelhouse.
Though it sometimes can feel like the bottom line is all-powerful, the reality is, companies that make it part of the corporate culture to shift the focus from making money to giving it back have happier employees and better reputations in both the national business and local communities. With all we have going for us, it seems to me that we are an ideal industry to set an example for other global industries when it comes to philanthropy. So do your part to save the world, and save your company from the reputation as a greedy, evil corporation. And if indeed you ARE a greedy, evil corporation, do it for the tax write off.
Mike Seiman is the CEO & Chairman of CPXi, a global digital media company that he co-founded while still a college student at Hofstra University in the early 2000′s. The company has grown quickly and is now a major player within the crowded online advertising landscape, serving billions of ad impressions every day. CPXi continues the rapid growth that led to its inclusion on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing privately held advertising/marketing companies in 2008 and 2009. Mike was selected as a semi-finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year initiative in 2009, 2010, and 2013.