Tag Archives: greatest good

Webby Awards Interview about Talent & Meaningful Work

The Webby Awards run a pretty fantastic series of interviews as part of their Webby Connect Series. I was lucky enough to be selected for an interview, the transcript of which is below. You can see the original article here.

Greatest Good is an online community where experts in various fields volunteer their time and experience to startup-founders, business owners, or anyone who needs consulting. Greatest Good donates 100% of each advisor’s booking fee to the charity of his or her choice.

We connected with Saneel to discuss why you don’t need to work for a non-profit to have a career with meaning.

Tell us about your journey to founding Greatest Good: Your professional background was primarily in marketing and tech. What led you to enter the non-profit sector?

Having collected an eclectic mix of professional experience from creative direction to digital strategy to organizational management, I was frustrated I wasn’t able to use these skills to actively help support causes I cared about. They simply don’t need what it is I do on any typical day. Ironically, although my time was highly valued in the corporate world, that same amount of time was significantly less valuable in the eyes of bootstrapping non-profits.

This inefficiency of exchange in the volunteerism economy is something I realized many other professionals likely felt too. After conversations with many people I respect, I realized I wanted to make a platform to help convert that corporate time into something valuable to non-profits. A few months later, Greatest Good was born. Now, these Advisors donate their time via video chat to people or companies looking for their expert opinion. In exchange, those companies agree to donate money to the charity of the Advisor’s choice.

Greatest Good relies on “Advisors,” or thought leaders who are willing to donate their time and expertise in order to help individuals and businesses that could benefit from it. How do you get these “Advisors” to commit? Has that been difficult?

We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response from potential Advisors. So many professionals today have causes they actively care about and want to support in ways beyond writing checks. Now they can put their time to use by being the experts they already are in a way that supports their favorite charity.

I’ve even reached out to people I don’t know personally, but with whom I would definitely pay to video chat with. For example, Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic is a writer, researcher, and thinker whose work I read and admire. I sent him an unsolicited email and got a reply within a few minutes. He’s now on the platform supporting a very cool non-profit called Youth Radio.

We’re finding that more and more professionals are eschewing corporate-ladder climbing in favor of pivoting into a “career with meaning.” Do you attribute this shift to anything in particular?

Well, there is certainly a shift toward professional empowerment. People across industries are finding ways to live the lifestyle they want by changing their relationships with employers and clients. A key part of these new lifestyles is finding meaning.

Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean helping non-profits; meaning can come from anywhere. Technology has enabled that shift by allowing more and more people to be a professional without being an employee. As the rate of technological change continues to increase, I think you’ll see more people making lifestyle choices that fall outside the corporate ladder. Hopefully that will result in a lot more people finding fulfillment in their work.

In what ways is the Web making it easier for non-profit organizations like Greatest Good to exist?

Non-profits need money. It’s very hard working toward a cause while fundraising. The Web opens up fundraising in unprecedented ways: people serving as advocates via the social web (how many buckets of ice water have you seen being dumped on heads this week?); diverse payment tools reducing transaction costs for donations; and in our case, ubiquitous video chat technology opening up a completely new model for people to donate their time.

We’re a not-for-profit that’s not dedicated to a specific cause; instead our cause is maximizing an Advisor’s ability to support their cause. Being an agnostic platform is just one of the seemingly infinite new ways non-profits are benefiting from the Web.

Do you have any advice for professionals like yourself who are interested in launching a non-profit organization?

Ask for help. People are much more likely to say “yes” if they feel they’re contributing to something bigger. I can’t believe the all-star cast that agreed to help me launch Greatest Good.

And hey, if you want a non-profit thought leader’s perspective on it, there’s no better place to find one than greatestgood.org/advisors. 🙂

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Forbes Interview about Greatest Good

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I recently launched a non-profit called Greatest Good. In a nutshell, it attempts to reinvent the way people raise money for the causes they care about. David Slocum of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership was kind enough to interview me for Forbes, the transcript of which can be found below. The original article is here.

I had a chance to speak recently with Saneel Radia, a 2009 EMBA graduate of The Berlin School of Creative Leadership, who has created “Greatest Good,” a non-profit platform where people donate their time to raise money for charitable causes. Based in New York, Saneel is the Founder of Finch15, a VivaKi-incubated innovation boutique that helps mature brands to concept, prototype and launch revenue-producing digital businesses. Prior to launching Finch15, Saneel ran the North American division of BBH Labs, the innovation unit of BBH, and, during his Berlin School days, was MD and “Alchemist” at Denuo, a Publicis Groupe Company focused on innovating digital services, media and technology.
David Slocum: Let’s start by asking you to explain Greatest Good.

Saneel Radia: Greatest Good is a digital platform for people to donate their time to support the causes they care about. The intention is for thought leaders across industries to make themselves accessible to individuals and companies that could benefit from their perspective in a one-on-one discussion. The money from selling their time goes to the charity of their choice.

Slocum: What was the insight that led you to develop Greatest Good?

Radia: Working in the marketing and tech areas, in particular, I was repeatedly struck by issues that swirled around the value of time and the transfer of knowledge – you might say, around reconciling financial metrics and depth of expertise. When volunteering, there’s always a tension between donating time and money; contributors want to give their time, charities tend to prefer to receive money. This is because a professional’s time is often worth so much less outside of their native industry. This inefficient conversion of the volunteerism economy is what we’re trying to solve.

Greatest Good emerged as a way for experts to donate something more closely approximating the market value of their time. In turn, businesses could benefit from using the platform to find thought leaders, be inspired, get unstuck, and access new and sophisticated ideas.

Slocum: Can you say more about the model?

Radia: We’re starting with an invitation-only launch featuring 30 advisers whose expertise people can access and roughly 25 charitable organizations that will benefit. Each of the advisers has committed to monthly “office hours” to video chat with users at a rate of $250 per half hour. The users request a video chat with a specific adviser and submit their payment information. After a meeting has occurred, Greatest Good releases the money to the adviser’s selected charity. Overall, Greatest Good is not a cause in itself: it’s a tool for others to make connections while supporting charitable causes they care about.

Slocum: It’s such an exciting project. What’s your timeline beyond the April 2014 launch and the major challenges you see for growth?

Radia: Our plan is for each of the inaugural 30 advisers to invite other advisers of comparable stature in their respective industries. The goal is 40-60 more advisers to join the platform within around three months and for us to continue that cycle into the future until the process becomes self-operating. Our target is for the platform to be fully developed, self-propagating, and with a working pricing strategy, in 18 months. We realize such a process has to be monitored to sustain the quality, diversity and even the consistent pricing of the experience. Accordingly, an instructive parallel for us as we grow is the relationship between TED and TEDx; in the future, we need to ensure that what might be called “Greatest Good ‘X’” continues to deliver the high-level of expertise and full access to charitable organizations that we’re launching with.

Slocum: So diversity is important?

Radia: Diversity is at the core of the concept: diversity in terms of the businesses interested in accessing us, the backgrounds and experiences of the thought leaders and advisers who participate, and the charitable organizations that are on board. Initially, there’s an emphasis on marketing and technology because those are the areas of my own experience and the reach of my network, but we’re very mindful of that. We’re curious following our launch to learn more about the demand for different kinds of experience and expertise and plan to use that as the basis for our future diversification rather than any set plan.

Slocum: The team you’ve assembled is impressive. What else can you tell us about them?

Radia: It’s a group of incredibly talented and committed people. What’s most remarkable is that while they’re all super busy, whether as sought-after freelancers or full-timers at top agencies like BBH and TBWA Chiat Day, they all said ‘yes’ immediately when I approached them about participating. Working together now, with no profit motivation and few resources, has been inspiring. Their willingness to experiment and creatively build something together with little precedent to draw from is amazing to experience first-hand.

Slocum : How does Greatest Good fit into your own future plans?

Radia: I’ve never had a master plan for my future and typically don’t make plans for more than one year out from where I am. My ongoing aspiration is always “to put a dent in the universe” and the stones have just varied over time. As a result my career has touched media, games, creativity, and innovation. Now, Greatest Good provides a marvelous opportunity to build a platform, and a brand, for such positive change. It serves as a great balance to my “day job” running and growing Finch15.

Professor David Slocum is the Faculty Director of Executive MBA Program at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership and is on twitter @DavidSlocum.