Hope and Intention: Key Components in Overcoming Society’s Challenges
October 11, 2023
At the beginning of the 21st century, the United States witnessed a surge in charitable giving, with two-thirds of Americans contributing to various causes. However, we now find ourselves in an age marked by economic uncertainty, culture wars and political polarization. Charitable giving has taken a downturn, facing a decline of 3.4% in current dollars (10.5% after adjusting for inflation) after two years of record-breaking generosity during the pandemic and the racial reckoning of 2020, according to Giving USA’s The Annual Report on Philanthropy.
In this challenging climate, corporations are often hesitant to wade into social and environmental issues, adding to the mounting pressure caused by rising costs of goods and services. But this is precisely the time when society needs leaders more than ever.
This week, I’m sitting down with two visionary leaders who are doing the hard and necessary work of making societal change, recognizing the value not just as a moral but as a business imperative.
Authentic Purpose – Origin Stories
In a world riddled with divisiveness, Fernando Machado, the Global Chief Marketing Officer of NotCo, and Regina Blye, the driving force behind The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, stand as beacons of hope.
They represent organizations that confront pressing global problems with unwavering determination and a collaborative spirit to drive real change.
NotCo, a plant-based food tech company, is revolutionizing the food industry with AI that replicates the taste, texture and mouthfeel of animal-based products using plant ingredients. But the brand’s mission transcends just capturing plant-based food trends; their aim is to “take out the animal from the food equation.” NotCo has recognized a major social imperative: ending food insecurity and securing the sustainability of our food sources. And they’re doing something about it.
Similarly, The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, born out of a personal mission after Christopher Reeve’s life-altering paralysis, has since grown into a vital organization dedicated to spinal cord injury research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis. As a nonprofit, they’ve identified a niche that requires activism and mobilization.
Operating with a Challenger Mindset
Both Fernando and Regina lead organizations with a challenger mindset, an approach necessary to cut through the noise in a world of diminishing attention spans and fragmented media channels.
NotCo is known for bold, disruptive campaigns that drive both business results and cultural impact, including a recent campaign using AI to reimagine what animals would look like if they weren’t raised for food.
On the nonprofit front, issues like climate change and LGBTQ rights often dominate the headlines, while “forgotten issues” like disability rights struggle for attention and funding. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is embracing the challenger mindset to stand out, make a difference and encourage people to pay attention and donate.
Scaling Impact through Unexpected Partnerships
Solving complex societal issues and driving systemic change demands collaboration. No single entity can tackle these challenges alone. Nonprofits and businesses outside the Fortune 500 may struggle to make a substantial impact without a coalition of like-minded partners. Both NotCo and The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation understand that paradigm and have adjusted accordingly.
One partnership that stands out is the collaboration between The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Peloton, which aims to provide accessible and inclusive fitness content. This partnership demonstrates the power of working with other organizations to bring about positive change.
NotCo on the other hand, a unicorn valued at $1.5 billion, has garnered support from industry giants like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer.
In these trying times, with society facing monumental challenges, hope is a crucial driving force for change.
Companies and nonprofits are essential pillars of hope for a brighter future. While challenges persist, their unwavering commitment, creative thinking and collaborative approach are helping to lead the way towards a better world—where social and environmental issues are addressed with courage, conviction and compassion.