GLOBAL COMPANIES AND FOUNDATIONS HOLD MORE ECONOMIC CAPITAL THAN THE ENTIRE GDCP OF SOME SMALL NATIONS.
This puts these entities in a position to be the catalyst for social impact on a monumental level.
Our intention is to work alongside these organizations and companies in order to help them understand their responsibility and their potential to make a positive social impact on our world’s greatest challenges.
Then we leverage our deep production and media expertise to tell the story of their impact: all through a lens of sensitivity and respect for beneficiaries, a focus on activations and mediums that move and inspire audiences, and an intention of long-term investment in creating ripple effects of change.
Our mission is to work with the world’s most influential brands, companies and foundations to develop authentic and responsible philanthropic strategies, and tell 21st century stories about social impact that act as a catalyst for action.
We help you discover and develop your best social impact initiatives, with tailored codes of conduct and a careful approach (read more about that here). Then we create digital-first awareness campaigns and activations to tell modern and inspiring stories about the impact. Our involvement ranges from consultative coaching to full-service production.
HOW WE APPROACH
At RipplEffect, we’ve developed an internal Code of Conduct that we use as our compass when advising our clients and developing a customized approach.
Our Code of Conduct is based on the following foundational pillars:
It's not about you. And it's not about us. Purpose-driven work is about the people and environments on the other end of the giving: the beneficiaries, communities, and staff who are impacted by strategies we help implement, day in and day out. We help our clients take themselves OUT of the narrative, and put the key players’ needs first.
Understand the ethics. Unfortunately, good intentions don’t always translate to good work, and they undermine good storytelling. There are deep, long-lasting implications that come with embarking on purpose-driven work, and it's essential to develop careful parameters for how to capture content around the projects you support. We ask for permission (not forgiveness) to tell individuals’ stories and step into their lives for a brief time, and we work with communities to understand what’s welcome.
Empower. Long gone are the days of glorified ‘poverty porn:’ small children with flies around their faces, used in TV ads to raise sponsorship based on guilt and discomfort. Instead, we are dedicated to empowering communities through hiring locally, listening to their needs, understanding their culture, and refraining from projecting unaligned values. We first acknowledge our positions of privilege for any challenge we tackle.
Evaluate intentions. We are committed to evaluating where the the intention to "make an impact" come from. Transparency is key, and the public recognizes work that is “green-washing” or put on to drive marketing or sales. This is not what RipplEffect is about.
Commit. Due to the sensitivity of aid and development partnerships, timelines can be arduously slow, and yield little visible progress. If your motivation is to move fast and “look good,” rather than to commit to long-term and authentic support, it will not be a fit. CSR work is the first thing to get criticized by
We never tell clients, or anyone who interested in giving back, to back away: we tell them to lean in and get curious. We believe deeply in the power of purpose-driven companies to effect change, and the potential for stories to amplify and set examples for anyone they reach: stories to empower individuals to do more, care more, be change.
Our role is to educate, advise, and assist our partners in navigating this dynamic, ever-changing space, applying the most cutting-edge theories of change, research and understanding to solve our world’s greatest challenges through the power of philanthropy and partnership, and tell stories that create ripple effects of change.
RipplEffect was born out of a decade of cross-sector experience in media and nonprofits. After a successful career in ad sales, founder Lauren Biegler had experienced “success” on many levels: but still an felt an emptiness brought on by a lack of greater purpose in her life’s work.
Having done some volunteer work in the past, she set her sights on the nonprofit sector as the answer, and cofounded a social impact travel company based in Los Angeles. Here, Lauren and the team took over 600 people on transformational impact-driven trips, where they built over 150 homes, formed thousands of meaningful, life-long friendships, and learned about poverty and empathy firsthand. On the surface, it all looked perfect.
Behind the scenes, a different story was unfolding. As Lauren and her team took on more types of projects and raised more impact funding, they began to understand the myriad of complexities that come with volunteerism and international development work. Difficult questions like:
Is it acceptable for people of privilege to volunteer in developing countries? Does it offer a positive lasting impact to local communities, or a negative one? Do they feel seen and helped, or seen then abandoned?
Are individuals who volunteer abroad helping others, or helping themselves? (Or both?)
A picture is worth a thousand words--but is it appropriate to take a picture with a child, without asking the permission of the parent (or knowing where the parent is), if your intention is to share the story and inspire more positive impact and service?
Are volunteers, celebrities, and foundations contributing to a post-colonial “white savior complex?”
As the list of questions grew, and Lauren acknowledged that many of them were unanswerable but extremely valid, her curiosity led her back to the world of brands, corporations, and foundations: entities holding the most power in terms of wealth and influence, but with “social impact” a relatively new priority in their global businesses, they were all over the map in terms of commitment and approach. She recognized she saw a huge gap in need of support.
Her #1 question was:
Is there any way to build truly responsible, beneficial cross-sector relationships, and share these stories with the world---or is it better just to “mind our own business” and avoid potential criticism that the approach may not be 100% perfect, or may change later on?
This is the question that drives RipplEffect, and one that we continually and humbly examine, discuss, and provoke.
What we’ve learned is that there is no “right answer,” no easy solution, and no black and white: instead, there is a “grey area” with a massive opportunity and an equally massive responsibility.
(by the way, if there were easy answers to global challenges of poverty, education, housing, water… we would have solved them already!)
Instead, we rely on our moral compasses, our global experts and longtime change-makers, our insistence on putting the needs of the beneficiaries first, our willingness to continually re-evaluate and up-level our strategies, and our bravery to step into the unknown and take risks, in the pursuit of bettering our world for the next generation.
This is what we’ve built at RipplEffect.