Three people. One social impact culture.

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Today’s work-life-community-wellness mindset has become a part of who we are in our personal and professional worlds. “Doing good” is now an integral part of our healthy, well-rounded lives.

Perspectives from three people in Embolden’s cast of fictional characters will give you a feel for how contemporary social impact culture is influencing millions of Americans, both at work and at home.

Elizabeth Bandera

  • Age 29
  • Financial advisor
  • Avid golfer, lover of sunsets, and vegan
  • Embolden Archetype: Investor/Accelerator

What Elizabeth says when she wears her professional hat

“To fulfill obligations to my clients, I need to be aware of the wide range of tax-savvy charitable giving vehicles. This is becoming even more important as philanthropy increases as a powerful connector across generations. I need that connection to retain my client base for the long term.”

What Elizabeth says when she wears her personal hat

“I want to be sure the dollars I am giving to charities are making a real difference. I want to see impact. Over the years, I have started to focus my giving on two or three causes instead of spreading the dollars across a dozen or so organizations. That’s helped me have more time to ask good questions of the charities I support.”

Steve Cowless

  • Age 47
  • CEO of a growing software company
  • Woodworking enthusiast and world traveler
  • Embolden Archetype: Activator/Interactor

What Steve says when he wears his professional hat

“It’s a priority as CEO for me to make sure company leadership is fostering a positive workplace culture where people love their jobs, and this includes offering community engagement opportunities and empowering our associates. At the same time, I am ultimately responsible for ensuring that the company is doing a good job as a corporate citizen. And frankly, I need as many associates as possible to get involved in our corporate philanthropy programs.”

What Steve says when he wears his personal hat

“I enjoy community-based social activities that involve the opportunity to get together with friends and family members. I am an especially big fan of 5Ks and concerts to support good causes. To me, it’s not about the money I give at these events, if any. Instead, it’s about the overall experience and demonstration of collective support for an organization that’s helping people in need.”

Alice Fiorella

  • Age 33
  • Executive director of family foundation
  • Fashion blogger, gardener, and swimmer
  • Embolden Archetype: Investor/Accelerator

What Alice says when she wears her professional hat

“I am constantly seeking evidence of ‘impact’ for the grants we make. It’s my responsibility to make sure we get the right reports from the nonprofits we support. I always try to think about what my grandparents would say about the data and documentation I’m gathering. It’s thanks to their business savvy and civic commitment, after all, that the foundation and its assets are here today to serve the community.”

What Alice says when she wears her personal hat

"I am doing a lot of good already by volunteering and serving on boards. Plus I try to purchase products from consumer brands, restaurants, and vendors that support a cause. So, I am immersed in ‘’doing good' every day of my life. I am not alone! Everyone I talk to these days feels the same way. This personal experience makes me realize that our family foundation needs to shine, and the quarterly foundation meetings I organize are where it all must come together for my siblings and cousins."

* * *

Understanding the perspectives of Elizabeth, Steve, and Alice are just three of many examples of how Embolden’s methodology and archetypes can help you get inside the minds of clients, consumers, donors, employees, and business leaders—or any combination thereof as roles collide in the changing marketplace. Armed with that information, Embolden can help you activate those perspectives to capture new data and create loyal engagement. Our team would love to support your success.



"It's not working," she said, frustrated. "This is not the way it's supposed to look." The first grader sitting in front of the mirror today was pouting. And studying the crown on top of her head. "These triangles are supposed to stick up. And mine are bending over. This is not the way it's supposed to look." I stood behind her and studied the reflection in the mirror. It looked pretty good to me. A crown, cut out of white printer paper. And decorated with colored Sharpies. And then taped into a circle. "It looks good," I reassured my daughter. First graders are so cute, I thought. Really, anything a first grader puts on her head looks pretty good. "It's supposed to be a Statute of Liberty crown," she explained. "But mine doesn't look right." Ah. I smiled. "Well," I said, "a crown like that can be whatever you want it to be. Which means your Statue of Liberty crown is perfect."

And it really was. After all, isn't that the whole point?

Is "do good, feel better" the solution for increasing charitable giving?

Great news to see that Americans' giving to charities topped $400 billion in 2017, according to a report published earlier this month by the Giving USA Foundation.

Still, there's opportunity to do more good, considering that giving as a percentage of GDP still hovers at 2%--which is where it's been for more than four decades. Creating a positive, "do good, feel better" experience could be the solution for breaking through that 2% ceiling.

A "do good, feel better" approach in today's social impact culture means it's important to celebrate the wide range of "pro-social" activities that extend beyond giving money to charities. An expanded set of activities includes volunteering, purchasing products that support a cause, sharing with friends and family, serving on boards, and more.

Indeed, a major breakthrough in our research was the discovery a few years ago that the contemporary philanthropic mindset was much more inclusive than the industry realized! Our book, Do Good, Feel Better, describes the research study and results in detail. The book includes the checklist below--a throwback to our 2012 pilot study to test the effectiveness and impact of celebrating the good you are already doing. We still love this checklist!

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They're back


This photo popped up as a 10-year memory from Shutterfly. Part of me loves it when old photos appear in my in box. The other part of me gets lightheaded at the thought of just how quickly they go from toddlers to teens.

Of course, an emotional reaction is exactly what Shutterfly wants when it sends me these memory emails. Emotional loyalty to brands is becoming increasingly important in today's marketplace, where work, life, community, and wellness have converged in the consumer mindset. The demand for emotional connection is also what's driving the revived popularity of birthday cards among Millennials, according to an article I shared today on LinkedIn.

It's today's social impact culture in action, once again!

Getting new customers and retaining employees is easier with an uplifting dose of "doing good"

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According to research released by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, social content that’s inspirational is a powerful way to generate emotional engagement.   

We could not agree more! For years, the team at Embolden has observed the impact of positive, uplifting messages on improving lives and business results. We believe social impact messages are an especially strong source of inspiration, mainly because in today’s culture, community is becoming an integral component of work, life, and wellness.

Our research study below offers a case in point. Or, skip the research and just jump to the end of the article to get the three takeaways. (Hint: 1. Update your messages. 2. Avoid the "corporate cram down." 3. Scale the one-to-one.)

Research Study: Engaging Consumers Through “Doing Good”

A few years ago, our team recruited thirty-four parents with one or more children under the age of eighteen. They were asked to complete a “doing good” drawing and painting exercise with their children designed to celebrate the good the families were already doing—regardless of the causes supported.

Following the exercise, parents were asked to participate in a brief online tutorial about the ways they and their families were participating in one or more social impact activities, including what we call the “10 Ways to Do Good”:

  1. Caring about health and wellness
  2. Giving to charities
  3. Volunteering at a charity
  4. Serving on a charity’s board of directors
  5. Purchasing products that support a cause
  6. Recycling and respecting a sustainable environment
  7. Donating items of food and clothing
  8. Marketing a favorite charity
  9. Sharing with family and friends in need
  10. Celebrating at community events

At the conclusion of the study, our researchers asked three questions:

1. “If there were products on the market today that helped you engage with your family in one or more of the 10 Ways to Do Good, would you be likely to purchase those products?”

85 percent answered YES, they would be likely to purchase those products.

2. “Are you likely to use part or all of the material in the survey to help teach your children or grandchildren, eighteen years of age or younger, about the 10 Ways to Do Good?”

100 percent answered YES, the "doing good" messages were useful.

3. “Do you feel like you have a better mental picture of the day-to-day activities that are part of your overall social impact—how you are making a positive difference in the lives of other people?”

91 percent answered YES, they felt better about the ways they are making a difference.

Wow. With numbers like that, it only made sense to go deeper with sixty-minute individual interviews with participants. And the results were equally powerful:

I want a company to acknowledge my current situation as it relates to social impact.
I want a company to motivate me by making it easy for me to get involved in doing good in the ways I like best.
I want a company to inspire me to involve my children in doing good, and I want a company to understand my need to educate my children about doing good.

Additional color commentary was equally illuminating. Here are a few more comments from the parents in the study:

“I would purchase products that help me reinforce good values and morals with my daughter. I’m a single mom, so activities that are fun for her and let me spend a few minutes reinforcing our family values are very helpful.”

— Marie, mother of one girl, age 8

“A company that can help me spend time with and interact with my family is a company I want to support.”

— Christa, mother of one girl, age 5, and five boys, ages 7, 9, 10, 13, and 14

“I was surprised at how much good we are doing as a family. Sometimes you can get burned out doing the same things. The online survey reminded me that there are many ways my kids can be helpful and do good.”

— Kate, mother of one boy, age 4, and one girl, age 8

Your Three Takeaways

Here’s what all of this means to a business striving to build a new customer pipeline or retain top employees:

1. Update your messages.

Your customers, clients, prospects, current employees, and recruits are listening differently to what you say. They will pay close attention to how much (or how little) you care about them as human beings, which comes through loud and clear (or not) in the types of messages you share in your communications and through social media.

2. Avoid the "corporate cram down."

The people you want to attract and retain--whether customers or employees--want your company to demonstrate a willingness to listen to what they care about. They don’t want to experience a “corporate cram down” of what you think they want to hear.

3. Scale the one-to-one.

One of the biggest challenges you face is scaling your outreach and relationship building to achieve authentic, emotional connections with your audiences and get the real-time feedback data you need to make business decisions. Are you ready?

“Doing good” in your messaging and relationship-building can give you a jump start to achieving your business development, recruiting, and retention goals. And that’s good for everyone.  

What "recycling" means to your social impact personality type

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Recycling and respecting a sustainable environment are growing in popularity as a key component of healthy, well-rounded life.

When we first began our 10 Ways to Do Good surveys in late 2012, an average of 82 percent of respondents answered “Yes,” recycling is in the mix of their social impact activities. By early 2018, nearly 90 percent of most survey groups showed recycling as a preferred way to do good.

Here is how recycling plays into all three Social Impact Personality Types. Which one are you?


What an Activator says about recycling:

  • “It’s our responsibility as humans and civilizations to leave the earth in better shape than we found it.”
  • “I make certain to track the latest scientific studies about global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps. I need to stay informed.”
  • “I simply cannot work for a company that does not clearly commit to best practices in sustainability.”

Four Recycling Activities Activators Enjoy

  1. Writing letters to elected officials advocating for conservation legislation.
  2. Advocating for a zero-waste-to-landfill program at work.
  3. Investigating best practices for a rooftop garden in the neighborhood and assisting with plans for its development.
  4. Making phone calls to local food retailers who don’t display recycling bins near the checkout counter or another spot where customers can easily deposit recyclable materials.


What a Connector says about recycling:

  • “Our family loves spending time outside and appreciating the beauty of our natural environment.”
  • “I like to attend informational meetings in my community about the latest efforts to generate renewable energy.”
  • “My ideal workplace is a LEED certified building. The positive energy is a real boost for me and my colleagues.”

Four Recycling Activities Connectors Enjoy

  1. Structuring weekend outings around visiting a farmers’ market.
  2. Prioritizing national parks when selecting vacation destinations.
  3. Adopting a family pet from rescue agencies or animal shelters.
  4. Teaching children at a very young age about the rules for recycling.


What an Investor says about recycling:

  • “I don’t hesitate to call my local waste management company whenever I have questions about how to get rid of large items, paint, and dead branches. I want to dispose of it in the right way.”
  • “We have a glass recycling center about a mile away, and I plan my route to work so I can drop off empty bottles.”
  • “Our neighborhood dry cleaners is environmentally savvy. The owner has won awards for its eco-friendly cleaning process. That’s the dry cleaner I use!”

Four Recycling Activities Investors Enjoy

  1. Growing organic gardens and using the produce at every meal possible.
  2. Placing a recycling bin in every room of the house where waste is discarded.
  3. Replacing plastic silverware with stainless steel (and volunteering to wash the dishes) in the break room at work.
  4. Installing energy-saving light bulbs in every fixture in the house.

Making the environment a priority is a powerful way for individuals, families, and communities to participate in today's social impact culture. Rethinking how to do regular, everyday rituals is a great way to feel good and inspire your friends, family and colleagues to do more good and feel better, all at the same time.