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Honest Tea president and co-founder Seth Goldman encouraged Kellogg students to incorporate social responsibility into their business goals. “Think about where the real impact is, and don’t do it on the side,” he said.

Honest Tea president and co-founder Seth Goldman encouraged Kellogg students to incorporate social responsibility into their business goals. “Think about where the real impact is, and don’t do it on the side,” he said.

2011 Innovating Social Change Conference

'Help create the future you want to live in,' Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman urges

By Rebecca Little

10/24/2011 - As Kellogg’s new “Think Bravely” campaign suggests, business leaders in the future will need to marry strong business savvy with social responsibility in order to make a real impact on the world.

“Help create the future you want to live in,” said Seth Goldman, co-founder and president of Honest Tea and a keynote speaker at “The Next Generation of Social Impact,” the theme of this year’s Innovating Social Change Conference on Oct. 15.

The daylong conference at the James L. Allen Center on the Evanston campus centered around the notion that turning a profit and doing good are not incompatible.

Mission and message
Honest Tea’s commitment to natural ingredients and fair-trade practices have inspired a passionate consumer base.

“Think about where the real impact is, and don’t do it on the side,” Goldman said, encouraging the audience to target business practices toward social responsibility. “If you make $10 million and do something nice with $1 million, you’ve missed the mark.”

Coca-Cola recognized that the megatrends of health and wellness, environmental consciousness and social responsibility were becoming more important to their consumers, and acquired Honest Tea in March 2011 as much for the brand’s message as to round out its beverage lineup.

Intersection of business and philanthropy
During the panel discussion “Money vs. Talent: Achieving Scale in Social Impact,” moderator Jason Saul, lecturer of social enterprise at Kellogg, noted that large companies have realized that consumers are demanding more social responsibility. “Companies are trying to bottle, package and sell social impact,” he said.

The panelists, including Liam Krehbiel ’07, founder and CEO of venture philanthropy fund A Better Chicago, researches the best education nonprofits in the area in order to make a bigger impact. “They trust us to find the best organizations and make an impact with pooled resources,” he said.

Pooling resources and guiding corporations toward social responsibility will make a greater impact than individual donations ever will, he said. “We’re never going to solve a social problem relying on the leftovers of the economy,” Saul said. "

'Exponential impact'
Darell Hammond, CEO and founder of Washington, D.C.-based KaBOOM!, has harnessed corporate donations and employee volunteerism to build more than 2,000 playgrounds across America since 1996.

The hands-on building of a playground has a “feel good” effect, he said. “By building a playground, we can build social capital, and once you build social capital, people can go on to do some amazing things,” he said. “It has an exponential impact.”

More than 300 corporations have donated money and employee time, some of which has come about as employees and business leaders switch jobs and involve their new organizations in KaBOOM!

“Everything you touch, make better,” he said. “You don’t have to start a company to do that.”