Social Good Acquisition Adds New Technology and Capabilities

By Russ Stoddard / Sep 03, 2014

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This month we acquired the assets of Social Good Network when the Boise-based startup failed to obtain a Series A round of investor capital funding. Along with local-marketing organization Think Boise First, this is the second acquisition we have made this summer.

We actually know Social Good Network pretty well. I co-founded it more than three years ago. During that time, the startup operated separately, but symbiotically, as a sister company to Oliver Russell.  Oliver Russell designed the original cause-shopping website for Social Good Network, provided it with shared co-working space, and produced video storytelling components for its cause marketing efforts.

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  • Oliver Russell has always had a social impact component that has effected change locally and regionally. I had reached a point where I wanted to take it to the next level and the answer was to try and scale social impact via the Web. I serendipitously met a bright and seasoned startup veteran, Antonia Chappell, who had similar objectives and Social Good Network was born.

    Social Good Network’s original mission was to enable consumers to turn their online shopping into donations for nonprofits at no extra cost. We partnered with the online affiliate marketing programs of hundreds of online retailers, ranging from Macy’s to REI to Nordstrom, to make this fundraising magic happen, and raised seed series capital to fund development and marketing of the platform.

    Initial pilot projects showed great promise. We attracted more than 200 nonprofits to the site and several thousand online shoppers. But sustained engagement proved illusive, and we quickly pivoted to development of direct-donation video storytelling software for nonprofits and corporate cause marketing efforts.

    Digital Cause Marketing Innovation Harvests Accolades

    In its brief life, Social Good Network achieved a level of success and recognition for innovation, which we hope to build upon to the benefit of our clients.

    It was selected as one of 25 innovative startups identified in a worldwide search to showcase in the “Video, Content, and Storytelling” track at the 10th Anniversary of Advertising Week, the world’s premier annual gathering of marketing and communications leaders. (Read about it here)

    Social Good Network was a certified B Corporation and made waves in this universe of social ventures. Earlier this year, the nonprofit B Lab named Social Good Network to its “B Corp Best for the World” list. This honors the top 92 businesses worldwide for having the most positive overall social and environmental impact.

    The startup also successfully engaged with mission-driven companies such as Whole Foods Market and New Belgium Brewing for digital cause marketing initiatives (See the Case Study). These pilot projects married its online platform with in-store promotion, event registration, and nonprofit fundraising via mobile marketing technology.

    Building Assets and Startup Street Cred

    With the acquisition, we gain the technology platform, significant social network communities, and key insights into purpose-driven consumer behavior, online fundraising for social ventures and nonprofit causes, and millennial marketing, among others.

    I learned a lot from the experience, as did Jay Saenz who joined the Oliver Russell team from Social Good Network. We also gained intimate knowledge of the startup economy, first hand, bloody knees and all, which enables us to better counsel targeted social venture startup clients, ranging from sustainable marketing programs for green, energy-efficient technologies to marketing for affordable health insurance co-ops.

    We’re going to spend the next quarter developing a strategic plan for Social Good Network within the Oliver Russell framework. Ultimately, the goal will be to deliver better insights and capabilities to our corporate social responsibility clients with the value-added benefit of producing profits and positive social impact in the marketplace.

    Ultimately, Social Good Network’s story is a bittersweet one. We take encouragement from numerous supporters like our friend Jeff Russell, founder and CEO of startup Jitasa, who upon learning the news urged Oliver Russell onward by simply saying, “Pivot … then … rock and roll!”

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    Thumbnails People Russ Stoddard

    Russ Stoddard

    Russ started Oliver Russell in 1991. He’s committed his career (nearly 30 years) to social responsibility, first inside the corporate world and then as an entrepreneur who’s started four companies and five nonprofit causes. Russ is the author of "Rise Up - How to Build a Socially Conscious Business," and his creative work has been honored with local, regional, and national creative awards. These days, Russ focuses on brand strategy for clients, spreading the Certified B Corp love, and connecting kindred spirits to multiply social impact.

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