Each of the last two years, I've found that the inevitable slow-down of business at end of the year has kick-started personal projects: two years ago, I launched the pop culture group blog newcritics.com over the break, and last year I signed a contract with John Wiley & Sons to write CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World and began work on the book, which is now in its third printing.
This year, it's something bigger: a new company.
Starting January 1, CauseWired Communications LLC is open for business. Susan Carey Dempsey, my longtime partner in publishing onPhilanthropy.com, is joining me in launching the new firm, which will assist organizations and campaigns in creating inspiring messages for causes that change the world.
In truth, the new company has been several months in formation. Susan and I are both original co-founders of Changing Our World, Inc., a national philanthropic services company that has grown from a small start-up to a global consultancy in less than 10 years, the last six of which were spent as part of the Omnicom Group, the advertising and communications powerhouse. That ride from a small start-up in a tiny, overcrowded office to key roles as part of a Fortune 100 multinational was exciting and rewarding. But when the offer of collaborating on a spin-off based on the success of the book and the need in the sector for communications consulting and thought leadership came our way, Susan and I knew it was time to move back into that small, crowded office and build something new.
And while we are leaving Changing Our World just as the company marks the beginning of its 10th year, we're not going too far. CauseWired Communications will be a close affiliate of Changing Our World, and Susan and I will continue to work closely with our old company on important projects. Indeed, we're temporarily housed at Changing Our World's familiar offices on 42nd Street and we've received a generous leg up in operations and business development from the firm, for which we're particularly grateful to the chairman, Mike Hoffman, and my brother Chris, the firm's president. We all believe the continued partnership will flourish.
So what will CauseWired Communications do? Two things:
1. We will work with nonprofit organizations, foundations, companies and individuals on communications and development assignments - using story-telling, social networks, strategic planning, management and communications expertise to turn great programs into actionable causes.
2. We will publish onPhilanthropy.com, the global resource for philanthropy professionals, and run the annual Summit onPhilanthropy conference in New York each year.
On the consulting side, Susan and I believe we offer a unique value proposition to organizations: we provide large firm development and communications expertise and experience at small firm fees. And in this economic environment, we saw a clear need in the market for that level of experience.
On the publishing side, we're committed to expanding the footprint of our network of outlets - onPhilanthropy.com, dotorgjobs.com (our employment site), CauseWired.com (our online social activism blog) and the Summit onPhilanthropy - and by extension, helping the social causes sector to exert greater influence during a time of great challenges and potential change.
Is there a better time to start a company like ours? We don't think so. A new American administration, a world economic crisis, and revolutionary changes in technology and media all combine to make January, 2009 a pivotal moment in world history. Sure, it's a heck of a challenge. But in the end, Susan and I asked ourselves what we'd most like to be doing at this time in our professional lives - and the answer was right there in a flash: working on great causes that can change the world when it needs it most.
So I'd invite you along for the ride. If you know of an organization that needs some help with its development program, with telling its story more effectively to supporters and donors, please have them email or call us. Our 2009 docket is not yet filled, and we are actively seeking business.
We also invite you to read onPhilanthropy's articles, get involved in a discussion, or browse the job openings - we have big plans for the site in 2009 and we'll let you know about those pretty soon.
CauseWired the book tells the story of online social activism and a generation of committed social entrepreneurs who believe in taking action to help others. CauseWired the company aims to support that urge for change, both online and off. We ask you to place your confidence in us, and we'd certainly like to hear from you.