Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur Jon Carson Says “Be Transparent About Your Goodness

Who are you and what is your background?

Social Entrepreneur Jon Carson Says “Be Transparent About Your Goodness”

Jon Carson

Jon Carson, CEO of BiddingForGood, Cambridge, MA.

I am a professional entrepreneur who other than brief stints at McKinsey and Boeing has always worked on my own projects. I have a special affinity for socially impactful projects and have over 20 years in building and scaling for-profit enterprises that serve a broader social purpose. My last venture was the FamilyEducation Network (Fen.com) which used a unique public/private partnership model to become the largest education portal on the Internet. In total I have returned in excess of $175 million to investors and have never lost investor money.

What came about that made you want to get involved in social change? Why was this social venture created?

I was on a game drive in Kenya after selling my 2nd company and realized there was a lot more to life than doing competitive analysis of the manhole cover industry (one of our last projects before we sold our consulting firm).

Name of Company and URL?

Social Entrepreneur Jon Carson Says “Be Transparent About Your Goodness” BiddingForGood – www.biddingforgood.com

What is your product or service?

BiddingForGood is a charitable e-commerce company that connects fundraisers, shoppers and businesses. Online auctions powered by BiddingForGood have generated over $125 million for nonprofit organizations and schools. Many of the top private and public schools and nonprofits in the country use the BiddingForGood platform. The 220,000+ shoppers in our Bidder Community are buying unique and valuable items across our many auctions – all to support the important organizations and causes they care about. Businesses are unlocking new sources of value while managing their philanthropic outreach and impact, and are discovering unique, powerful ways to reach new customers within our community.

Date officially launched?

January 2003

How many years and how many organizations has BiddingForGood helped?

We have helped 7,000 organizationss raise over $125 million over the last 7 years (30% in the last year)

How many Organizations do you think need help?

The non-profit sector has hit a funding wall. The current situation is “the new normal”. At the same time almost everyone is experiencing a dramatic spike in need for services likely to only accelerate as the government pulls back support for the poor, education, environment, etc.

What is the cost per organization that is being helped? Are you working on decreasing that cost by being more efficient?

Since the cost to the organization is under 10% we are more focused on how much more money can we help folks raise. That is (by far) the bigger lever. Right now we are working on enabling mobile phones and devices to be used both in and out of the room as bidding devices.

How are you helping other private companies?

We will share our trademarked intellectual knowledge to help any company to build a Goodometer™. The Goodometer™ is a public display of the tangible impact the company delivers on an hour by hour basis. The Goodometer™ tells our community of shoppers every minute of every day how we are doing and quantifies their impact as they bid on items that support worthy causes. Most companies are making an impact at some tangible level so a tool like the Goodometer™ can showcase that to their customers. I believe that to be transparent about your ‘goodness’ is a powerful statement to your customers and employees.

We also work with dozens of F500 companies to enable employee auctions to raise funds for causes (e.g. Ford and JDRF)

What is the best advice you never got?

Reality is your friend

What is the one thing that you did right?

Persistence. I almost never give up (unless reality says otherwise)

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

As a young CEO I had vision but was not good at process. Over time I’ve learned to both think big but tend to zero in on the small stuff that makes it all happen

What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?

Focus on the revenue model and its scalability.

What book(s) have you read that others should read?

Liars Poker (Michael Lewis)- It shows what a sham Wall Street is and raises some serious questions about the essence of how capitalism works in our country today.

Are you doing any type of Search Engine Optimization?

Since we changed our name from cMarket to BiddingForGood in 2009, we have been working hard to optimize our search traffic and have seen our branded search go up over 100% year over year. It points to the power of having a name that means something to people or is easily understood.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

45

Do you use social media to get the word out? (Please provide links)

Yes, we use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/company/biddingforgood

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/biddingforgood

Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/bidding4good

Do you have a YouTube video URL that you can share with us, and allow us to publish with your story?

Yes

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blZA1e_zdCg

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