Give Back: The People’s Foundation - A blog by Megan Strand

Nov 15, 2010 12:20 PM ET
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Give Back: The People’s Foundation

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself with $1 million and a directive to give half away and keep the other half?

When Stephen Paletta won Oprah’s Big Give in 2008, this instantly became his reality.  He did what most of us would do:  started a foundation with the intention of highlighting great causes leveraging his newfound friendship with Oprah to spread the word.

What’s In It for MY Cause?
As Stephen started talking to people about causes he felt were particularly compelling, he quickly realized something.  Although people listened politely as he shared the causes about which he was passionate, almost everyone he interacted with wanted to tell them about their favorite cause.  Whether it was a church, international NGO or community organization, people wanted to talk about and advocate for the causes with which they were already engaged.  Stephen explains,

I realized that in many ways, most people were in the same place I was before being on Oprah.  Even if people had a cause they were passionate about, they never had enough of their own money to give away and no real platform to promote the cause to people with money able to offer support.

Consumers were hungry to engage with the causes they cared about, not only the causes companies chose on their behalf.  While consumers may support companies with a commitment to a cause, they were missing that personal sense of empowerment in their personal giving.

Armed with this experience and realization, Stephen made a decision.

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