Learning Series | Social Impact Community with Jeremy Brown

January 31, 2022


Jeremey Brown joins us to discuss Social Impact World and the importance of community in the CSR space. As corporate social responsibility and corporate volunteering grows, it's more important for all stakeholders to work together to deliver the highest impact.


Andy - WeHero (00:03): Thanks so much for being herewith us excited to have you in your music studio.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (00:10): Andy, thank you for having me.
Andy - WeHero (00:11): Yeah. Well, a bit of anintroduction. I'll, I'll let you provide your background, but a bit of anintroduction to people that are listening. Ben and I got introduced by one ofour clients who said, Hey, have you heard of this social impact chat? And thisguy, Jim, Amy Brown, and you, you know, we were like, no, we haven't. And so Ithink he sent us the link to your, your slack group. It must have been, I thinktwo and a half years ago. And that's when we initially reached out and chatted,cause we were doing so much of the same, same work and, and focus, especiallyin the bay area with, with tech companies and helping them give back. So twoand a half years later, I think almost everything has changed in our world. Butwe're still here. So that's exciting.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (00:51): Absolutely. Yeah. It's wow. Two years ago it feels like itfeels like 10 years ago. But yeah, it, it definitely, so the social impact chatslack group definitely has grown quite a bit since then. I think let's see twoyears ago around that time when you probably joined, Ooh, we are probablyaround maybe 400 people or so I wanna say, and since, you know, obviously COVIDhit and everyone's virtual now. It definitely has exploded. Now over a thousandindividuals, both from the corporate space to the nonprofit sector, to studentsand just individuals whos interested in making that career transition intosocial impact, it's been quite the adventure and, and just, I love seeing allthe engagement and all the interaction going on in the, in the group. So it'sbeen, it's been fun to, to witness.
Andy - WeHero (01:41): Yeah, no, absolutely. Maybetaking a step back, you know, how did you get into this industry? And for thosewho don't know, kind of mention a few of the different things you're doing,cause you're doing a lot in the space and would love to hear kind of whatinitially got you into the, this, this environment.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (01:55): Yeah. so my background is intech. So I've been in tech pretty much my entire career mainly in the marketingsector or departments at the various companies I worked at. And so let me takea step back and walk you through how all this got started. So we gotta go backto 2011 that's when I graduated college, I joined a really large company basedin San Francisco. This is a company that had a lot of resources, so a lot ofmoney, a lot of people around the world, we were not struggling by any stretchof imagination. So I was there for, for a little over a year and not one timedid we ever make any donations or give back to our community? Now I'm new to mycareer. So it didn't register with me until I left that company and joined avery small startup.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (02:43): And one of the executives atthat startup happened to come from Salesforce. So he brought with him thiswhole philanthropic mindset and he wanted the company to not only obviouslymake money and grow, but also do good. And so what happened was the very firstweek on the job, we went out and volunteered as a team. And for me, that was atotally new experience that I absolutely loved. And so we would do that forevery new group of employees that joined the company. And I remember like itwas yesterday, I remember thinking, okay, this is a totally differentexperience. Why is it that this small startup with a very limited re is, isable to do more for the community than the company I just came from. And sothat got me on this path of thinking, okay, we're doing this for a couple ofreasons.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (03:27): Number one, it just ma it just,it matters. It, it makes sense for a company that takes from the community togive back to the community. And number two, it was a really awesome way tobring a team together. You're having a shared experience you're making impacttogether. It was just a very rich experience. And so fast forward, about threemonths after my initial start date, that's when I started having the, theseideas around. Okay. Is there anything that I can do to encourage more companiesactually get involved? I didn't know how I was gonna do it, but I to have abackground in organizing events. And so I thought to myself, okay, what if Iorganize an event and just invited various companies to come out and volunteeralongside each other. So long story short that became start to give back. Thatwas my first organization in the, my first step into social impact.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (04:19): And since then have done wellover 50 volunteering events have chapters around the United States and evenCanada. But during that time I was also organizing social impact meetups. Andso they started off small and I would probably do one probably once a quarter.And then all of a sudden that got bigger and bigger and bigger. And so I'mthinking, okay, there's something here now. Is there a way to expand that,maybe do an annual conference in the bay area? Obviously not a revolutionaryidea. There's plenty of kind of social impact oriented conferences, but that'swhat, and I was interacting a lot more with social impact leaders and thenCOVID hit, we couldn't do in person stuff anymore. And so now I'm sitting therethinking, okay, can't do an in person, but we happen to live in a time where wehave some really remarkable online tools mainly for free. Is there anythingthat I can use to actually create that kind of offline networking opportunity,but on the online side and obviously slack was available, it's free easy touse. Most people know how to use it anyways, cause they use it at theircompanies or their organizations. And so that became social impact chat whichis owned by social impact world, which is the community for social impactleaders. And so that's how we got to this point today.
Andy - WeHero (05:51): You know, what's interestingabout that is from my perspective, I think what this community needs, and Ithink the social impact community is relatively new, right? You have thetrailblazers like the sales force, but even some of the largest companies arestill not even thinking about this. And that means the talent pool and peoplewho are leading these CSR teams are from our perspective, just they need asmany resources as they can get. And that's why I think what you built with achat is so powerful because it's a casual more more low key than going to aconference. You know, you can reach out to people on their, get theirperspective and people are so willing to share. It's, you know, it's just agroup that wants to give back by nature of who we are. And so I actually thinkit's an awesome pivot, you know, I would never say thanks to COVID foranything, but I think what you created, it's, it's really unique for us goingthe, the conference route.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (06:44): Yeah. I appreciate that. Andyeah, you're, you're totally right. I feel like what's interesting about thesocial impact space is how open people are. And like you said, how willing theyare to share. And it's really be, it comes down to one thing. We're not reallycompeting against each other. We're competing in the sense that we have thisultimate goal that we're all trying to achieve a better society, betterenvironment, things like that. And so it behooves us to actually work togetherand collaborate to progress things forward. And so yeah, the community is justamazing. Just like I mentioned, a little while ago, the engagement and all theinteractions that are happening, it's, it's just been remarkable to, towitness.
Andy - WeHero (07:23): Yeah. Now I'd be curious, as youthink over the last nine months, what are there, are there a few common thingsthat keep coming up in the social impact chat, you know, where are peoplestruggling the most? What do you say over the past nine months?
Jeremy - Social Impact World (07:36): Yeah, I would say start andscaling a program. I feel like we're at this point where companies are startingto wake up and realize, Hey, social impact, isn't this fluffy thing, right? It,it has real tangible value, both from an employee perspective, but also from abusiness perspective. And so now we're starting to see a lot more of roles openup for, you know, social impact manager or ESG D and I, things like that. Andso now the challenge is how do you start a social impact program? How do youscale it? And more importantly, how, how can you create something that, thatstands the test of time? You know, I, I just came out of a, another kind ofvirtual meetup and one of the topics that came up was creating a long termsocial impact program. And, and what goes into that? What kinds of things youneed to think about, cuz it's not just the one off volunteering here and therethere's so much more that frankly, a leader needs to do to create somethingthat stands to time and that the company feels that they get value from, from abusiness perspective, but also from an employee engagement perspective. So Iwould say right now in the past nine months, that's the biggest thing is how doyou start a program and then how do you actually scale it for the long term?
Andy - WeHero (08:55): Yeah. I mean, I think you're soright. I mean, we hear all the time, you know, I think the, this, this in thisindustry started with just hours of volunteering. Hey, we're judging ourself byhours of volunteering and that's a fine metric, you know, it's great. Everyhour of volunteering is good, but largely you want to think about the totalimpact on the company. And so how do you migrate hours of volunteering to, youknow, judging an empowered employee, who's gonna stay at the company longerversus overall impact for the, you know, world that you're trying to make. Andit's not an easy shift and I don't think there's that many answers, but I thinkthat's one of the cool things about bringing the group together is they canbrainstorm and, you know, really come to, you know, advancing and, and really growingthese industry.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (09:36): Yeah, no one really has itfigured out, you know, there are some companies that are more advanced likeSalesforce, for example, you know, they started a long time ago, so they have,you know, they have more insights than the average company, but no one reallyhas it figured out. And so that's the cool thing about the slack group is thatyou have people from all walks of life. You have folks that at workoutSalesforce, I work at LinkedIn and some of the other big wigs in the techspace, all under kind of one umbrella, having conversations about how toactually create programs. How do you scale programs? How do you engagestakeholders? How do you get executive buy-in, which is also a hot topic andis, I feel like it's always gonna be a hot topic because not every executivehas fully bought into social and
Andy - WeHero (10:16): Yeah, yeah, no, you're, you'retotally right. And I think one of the things we always hear and talk about iswhat happens to social impact in a recession. Cause you know, this industry hasreally just gotten started after 2008, I would say. And so we've had anincredible 13 years where companies have been generating excess profit. And soit's really easy then to, you know, understand we do this. It's gonna help, youknow, retention and engagements, but what happens when there's not all theprofits around, are they still prioritizing it? And that's why I think it's soimportant to have this group come together because, you know, from your membersand these companies, they've started coming out with such good data and, andthat data and really bringing the industry together to share the data is what'sgonna create the, you know, the, the proof that, that this industry is doinggreat for these companies, not only the world.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (11:03): Yeah. You bring up a interestingpoint about recessions. I mean, we're not in a recession right now, but themarket is a little bit volatile right now and you know, people are kind offreaking out. So it'd be interesting to see how companies adjust to that andhow, you know, social impact leaders who are Manning these per programs, howthey adjust to that. What's going on in the market too.
Andy - WeHero (11:21): Yeah. And, and your point aroundthe designing the programs, I mean, ideally you're designing long term 10 yearplus programs and, you know, short term budgets, shouldn't, shouldn't have alarge impact, but you know, and in the business world they always will.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (11:33): Yeah, this is true. Yeah.
Andy - WeHero (11:35): So one, one other question afteryou, obviously it's more than just a chat, right? Cause part of the reasonwe're recording, this is I want everyone to know about this. So they're signingup and they're benefiting from the resources and benefiting from thecollaboration, you know, talk a little bit, you're obviously doing a lot of,you know, I call an AMA but talk about the gen the, the, that a little bit aswell as some of these new webinars and kind of howtos and guides that youstarted to do to support the community.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (12:02): Yeah. So yeah, you're right. Sosocial impact chat, isn't just about the chatting aspect of things. When youthink about social impact world as a whole, and we have an events series that'scalled breaking the social impact for people who are looking to break into thesocial impact space. We've actually partnered with general assembly on that forthe past couple of years. We have workshops where, you know, people will talkabout how do you create a program? How do you get executive buy-in? So a lot ofthe hot topics that are on the minds of, you know, social impact leaders whoare seasoned veterans, but also kind of new to the space. There's obviously theslack channel, but in the slack channel, we also have our AMAs where you willbring a social impact leader from LinkedIn or Twitter or whoever.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (12:47): And just for 30 minutes, havethem answer questions from the community. And so this has been something thatwe've been doing for quite a while. Now it's a lot of fun because it's, it'sreally easy to do. You know, you don't have to, you know, as a person answeringthe questions, you don't have to take time too much time away from your, youknow, your day to day. You can be at lunchtime and just flip, open the slackchat and start chatting away and answering questions. But a lot of reallyinteresting insights have come from those AMAs. And a lot of the members of thecommunity have learned a lot from them. There's a, it's a huge value add. Andso that's also a component to what we do. And then also we have a bunch ofother resources and we're trying to connect social impact leaders withcompanies that have really good products and services that they might findvaluable as their program scale. So there's a lot of components to this, butultimately what we're trying to do, the, the mission and the actual goal is toturn the corporate oil into a force for good. So that's the, the kind of theguiding light and everything that we build around that kind of steers towardsthat.
Andy - WeHero (13:55): Yeah. Yeah. No, and, and I thinkthat's the cool thing, is that mission that what you just said, I think if youpulled the audience in your chat or, you know, anything related to socialimpact world, I think that's everyone's mission. Right. And that's kind of,interestingly what drives us drives us all. We all do it in different ways, butI think that's all what got us, you know, into the space.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (14:15): No, that what got me to a spacetwo.
Andy - WeHero (14:17): Yeah. All right. Now the hardestquestion, what is your favorite nonprofit and why?
Jeremy - Social Impact World (14:24): Mm, okay. So I actually havetwo, if you don't mind
Andy - WeHero (14:28): Go for it
Jeremy - Social Impact World (14:30): And disclaimer, I'm on the boardof directors for one of them, but if I wasn't on the board, I would still saythat they're one of my favorite nonprofits. So the first nonprofit is seahugger. So sea hugger's mission is to basically eradicate plastic pollution inour oceans. And they do that through education as well as in-person events andvolunteering. And they have this really amazing camp for kids where they teachkids about the ocean and kind of the, the problem around plastic pollution andthings like that. And, you know, I got wind of this organization and again, I'mon the board of directors for the organization, but I got wind of them back in,I wanna say 2017. So I had an in San Francisco were actually invited thefounder of the organization to come and talk about her nonprofit and theproblem that she's trying to solve and just absolutely love the mission andwhat she's trying to do.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (15:23): And one of the coolest thingsthat I saw in that presentation was they have these little troubles that theytake to the beach. And when you're doing a beach cleanup, you know, you havebuckets of sand, you pour the sand into the tremble, the sand sifts through,and all that's left is the garbage and the PLA the microplastics that you don'tsee. And it's like this epiphany, like I'm going to the beach. If you havekids, you're going to the beach with your kids, you're playing in the sand. Youdon't know that there's all these microplastics in the sand. You don't see it.And that was just this kind of eye opening experience. And ever since then, Iwas, I've been a, I was a big fan of that nonprofit and just so happened thatshe reached out and said, Hey, you wanna be on the board?
Jeremy - Social Impact World (16:04): So I was like, yes, I love that.The other nonprofit that is my favorite is or organization called Lira. And soLira, what they do is it's this really big database of trash. And so how itworks is you, you download the app, you go on a walk or wherever you're going.If you see, you know, a thing of trash, a can a bottle, a rapper take a pictureof it, they crowdsource all of the trash. And what it enables you to do is seefrom a brand perspective, which brands are in terms of trash the most outthere, it could be Coca-Cola cans everywhere, for example. And so that datajust, it helps bring some clarity around like what trash is out there, who'sbehind it. And from a company perspective, you're, Coca-Cola for example, andyou're saying, okay, we're seeing a lot of our cans out there.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (17:03): Is there anything we can do froma sustainability perspective to eradicate that issue? And so, yeah, thatliterality has definitely expanded and grown over the years. It's been amazingto watch them. And it all started the founder. It all started with him going ona walk with his kids and his kids would say, Hey, why is there trash over here?And that was a light bulb for him. And so now, like I said, it's the app. Youtake a picture of it. You, you know, write out what the, the trash is, thebrand behind it. And then they also map it. So you can go to a global map andsee all the trash around the world. It's really interesting
Andy - WeHero (17:41): That that is interesting. Italso solves the prioritization issue, right? Cause as we think about trash,it's like, all right, let's try to convince the whole world that we like thewhole, every company in the world to stop, you know, producing things where,why don't we focus on the biggest, the biggest issues first and focus ourefforts there.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (17:58): Exactly. You might see that a lotof the trash happens to be plastic straws, you know, as a, as a, a restaurant,is there anything you can do around that maybe have straws or, or somethinglike that where it's like, you know, the, the plastic isn't getting into theenvironment.
Andy - WeHero (18:13): Yeah. I love it. Those are bothtwo nonprofits I haven't heard of before.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (18:19): I highly suggest you look 'em upcuz they're amazing.
Andy - WeHero (18:21): Yeah, no, I, I definitely will.I, I, I've heard of some similar organizations to see hugger and, and I've,I've actually seen that experience myself with the sifting of the sand and whatamazed me was, was just realizing how much plastic was there that I didn'trecognize. And it's a good analogy. Like you don't see everything that'shappening and you're until, you know, you've, you've entered the matrix. Youdon't know the matrix exist in some ways. And that it's a good metaphor for forso many nonprofits out there.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (18:53): Exactly. It's it's like I said,it's, it's an epiphany it's it's really eyeopening.
Andy - WeHero (18:59): Yeah. Yeah, exactly. All right.Well, where can people follow along? How would you recommend people join alongwhat you're doing? What would be the best way to get in contact with you?
Jeremy - Social Impact World (19:08): Yeah, well, to get into contactwith me, I am at social Jeremy on pretty much every major social media platformin terms of social impact world and social impact chat. If you wanna join the slackgroup, go to social impact, world.com/chat, request an invite, and then you'llsend you invite and you'll be right in there.
Andy - WeHero (19:25): Awesome. And we'll put all thatinformation in these notes and highly recommend everyone can join. We've beenbeen in along for the ride and it's just a highly informative group. And so yeah,I would highly recommend everyone join.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (19:37): I appreciate Andy.
Andy - WeHero (19:38): Yeah. Well, thanks again,Jeremy, and get back to producing the music.
Jeremy - Social Impact World (19:41): Absolutely take care.

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