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Reversing Climate Change Episode 45: Paul Polizzotto, Founder of EcoMedia & GiveWith

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Published on 13 Mar 2019 / In Non-profits & Activism

“When brands underwrite human empathy, great things happen for brands.”

Corporations are not obligated to contribute to nonprofit organizations. But what if serving the underserved would drive sales? What if addressing the most pressing social issues would improve profits? What if making the world a better place would increase share price? Paul Polizzotto has demonstrated that social impact does, indeed, drive business value, and he is on a mission to transform commerce and afford resources to our most urgent social issues. 

Paul is a serial social entrepreneur with 30-plus years of experience in improving the environment, health and education. Most notably, Paul is the Founder and President of CBS EcoMedia, a program enabling advertisers to fund social improvement projects through their advertising buys. He is also the Founder and CEO of GiveWith, a technology platform designed to power collaborations between brands and nonprofits in support of social impact initiatives. Paul is a frequent guest lecturer at business schools throughout the US, and he serves as a Senior Fellow at USC’s Marshall School of Business. 

Today, Paul joins Ross and Christophe to explain how he is leveraging transactions between brands and consumers to bring much needed resources to the most pressing issues of our time. He describes how EcoMedia applies social impact as a sales incentive and how he is expanding that proven business model beyond media to other industries via GiveWith. Paul offers insight around how his work pairs nonprofits with corporations to move people in need to the front of the line. Listen in for Paul’s advice to aspiring social entrepreneurs and learn how brands that underwrite human empathy can increase their share price and profits.
 

Key Takeaways

[0:34] Paul’s journey as a social entrepreneur

Grew up surfing, curious about pollution (Santa Monica Bay)
Pioneered method to prevent run-off from polluting waters
Idea to add social impact to sale of advertising via EcoMedia
Direct $100M to 250 nonprofits, 700+ projects
GiveWithexpands proven business model to other industries
Leverage transactions to bring resources to pressing issues

[11:42] Paul’s insight on social impact and activist investors

Use ESG ratings to see risk and opportunity
Drive sales, improve price and increase share price
From cost-center to revenue-generator

[16:26] How GiveWith shifts the role of the nonprofit

Nonprofit world based on ask, generates $400B
Serving needs of underserved drives business success
Nonprofit becomes corporate business partner

[21:28] How current conditions facilitate Paul’s approach

Precise measurement of business value through tech
Business model has been working for 20+ years

[23:37] How Paul is applying innovation to societal issues

People in need, most pressing issues last in line
Move to top line, center of transaction
Additional value for buyer and seller
Resources grow from $400B to $19T

[30:06] Why Paul is encouraged by recent events

Federal government relaxing regulations
Companies going in opposite direction

[32:08] Paul’s story-empathy-action model of marketing

Consumer-brand transaction facilitates something new
Brand asks consumer to agree, underwrites empathy

[36:51] Paul’s wonder at the beauty of the planet

Optimistic about next generation, human resilience
‘How about we protect this?’

[40:12] Paul’s advice for aspiring social entrepreneurs

‘Paddle out’

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