Q&A with Devin Thorpe, Founder of Your Mark on the World Center

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Q&A with Devin Thorpe, Founder of Your Mark on the World Center

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[NEW] @Versaic chats with @devindthorpe, Champion of #SocialGood http://bit.ly/2enIt5M #CSR #insights

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Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 4:20pm

CAMPAIGN: Getting to Impact


Devin Thorpe was a finance guy until he realized life wasn’t all about the money. As a new-media journalist and founder of the Your Mark on the World Center, Devin has established himself as a champion of social good. He travels extensively as a volunteer doing service, as a journalist finding heroes and as a speaker sharing what he’s learned.

As a Forbes contributor, with 350 bylines and over one million unique visitors, he has become a recognized name in the social impact arena. His YouTube show, featuring over 600 celebrities, CEOs, billionaires, entrepreneurs and others who are out to change the world, has been viewed over 200,000 times, giving him a recognizable face as well.

His books—read almost 1 million times—on personal finance and crowdfunding draw on his entrepreneurial finance experience as an investment banker, CFO, treasurer, and mortgage broker, helping people use money for good. Previously he worked on the U.S. Senate Banking committee staff and earned an MBA at Cornell.

Versaic: Why should companies invest in CSR? 

Devin: There are two primary reasons. First, and I think most important is that CSR is, at the name suggests, a responsibility we all share. Doing good is an obligation we share. The second reason is that when done well, CSR will increase company profits. These two reasons harmonize; if doing good increases profit, why would a company quit doing it?

Versaic: What brand and marketing value can CSR and Sustainability Initiatives bring?

Devin: Studies show that consumers will not only choose socially responsible products over less socially responsible ones, they will pay a premium. 

Versaic: What advice do you have for brand marketers who are trying to make CSR or sustainability an essential part of the business?

Devin: Do it. Do it authentically. Companies need to define sustainability goals that the employees, officers and customers actually care about. The efforts to make a difference must be harmonized. Coke and Pepsi have both made genuine efforts at environmental water conservation. Given what they are doing, they can also ask customers to help.

Versaic: What are the unexpected benefits or outcomes that you have seen for companies that have implemented CSR Programs successfully? 

Devin: The biggest surprise, I think, are companies that become international leaders in their respective movements, going beyond donors and volunteers. For instance, Estée Lauder has donated nearly half a billion dollars to fight AIDS. The company now has a seat at the table helping to define how funds are used and how the fight against AIDS is waged. 

Versaic: What are some of your favorite CSR brands and what makes their programs so effective?

Devin: Estée Lauder is a favorite because of the impact of their work to end AIDS. RBC Wealth Management has made a $50 million commitment to clean water and encourages all employees to volunteer in clean water projects in their communities. This helps to brand RBC as a trustworthy company, which is vitally important for a wealth management firm.

Versaic: What are the 3 most important ways companies measure their success and how does that lead to value in the business? 

Devin: Relatively few corporations are doing a good job of measuring real impact. This comes from identifying the company's "theory of change" and measuring outcomes. Estée Lauder's goal is to eradicate AIDS. Measuring rates of infection in countries where they work is a good measure of progress. Other measures relating to treatment and length and quality of life with HIV/AIDS are also appropriate. By measuring impact, the authenticity of the campaign is enhanced. Measuring direct costs and revenues are relatively easy metrics. Most companies at least do this. Profits, however, may be harder to measure.

Versaic: How can companies truly differentiate themselves in how they communicate their CSR initiatives and results?

Devin: The key to good communication is moving beyond bragging to engaging. This requires that customers be engaged in the process rather than simply hearing about the good the company does. My favorite way to see this done is to sell products where the profits or proceeds go to a cause that the customer chooses. This process makes the customer feel like a partner in giving and ensures that the customer knows that the company is doing good.

Versaic: What tips can you share with companies who would like to increase the impact of their CSR programs?

Devin: A genuine desire to do good with impact requires measurement. This requires companies to define their theory of change, that is the way in which they believe their money and activities will lead to improved outcomes. The company can then measure both the inputs or activities and the outcomes or impacts.

Versaic: Where do you see CSR going? What is going to be important 3 years from now?

Devin: Impact measurement will be more important in three years than it is today. Customers and boards will both be more interested in understanding the outcomes, results and impacts that are leading to the desired change than today. Boards will do so with an eye to maximizing the value of the corporate resources devoted to these efforts. Customers will be testing for this to determine if companies are green-washing or really making a difference.

Versaic’s program management system is behind many of the best-known corporate philanthropy programs from some of the biggest brands around. For a free demo click here or give us a call at 877-712-9495.