The soul of the new economy is in peril.
Too many of us are losing track of what matters. And what is at stake is not merely a particular vision of work but also the social fabric of the country -- our shared sense of fundamental fairness, the implicit social compact that guides us through our civic affairs, and the story that we tell ourselves, one another, and our children about the kind of people we are and the kind of society we hope to build.
The time has come to fulfill the promise of the new economy. To merge creativity, innovation, and a sense of purpose. To share our wealth, extend the benefits of financial success, and promote a sense of equal opportunity. The time is now.
Fast Company urges every member of its community to take a stand for social and economic equity. Already the wheels are beginning to turn. Companies, organizations, and individuals across the nation are connecting successful benefactors with the nonprofits that most need help, investing in groups that aim to make a difference, and making it a priority to encourage and reward social responsibility. Here are some noteworthy examples of companies and organizations built to contribute, built to change, built to last:
- PowerUP launched late last year with a promise to bridge the digital divide by opening 250 computer centers across the United States by 2001. A national campaign backed by heavy-hitters like the Case Foundation and AOL Inc., PowerUP will only succeed if companies step forward to sponsor local sites with financial contributions, volunteer initiatives, and a resolution to improve the lives of their children...today.
- Rhino Records' mission statement contains a prominent and powerful commitment to the Los Angeles community -- a pledge that employees of that once-indie record label work hard to fulfill. In many ways, the management and change agents at Rhino have made volunteerism an integral component of everyday business without compromising profits, quality, or service.
- Social Venture Partners, a Seattle-based foundation, has adapted the venture-capital model to benefit local philanthropic organizations and to help business leaders effect real change in their community. SVP partners initiate long-term, investor-like relationships with charitable organizations, and work within committees to apply their business know-how to the nonprofit world. Their model is infinitely scalable and mutually rewarding.
- Community Development Venture Capital Alliance induces social and economic change by linking venture-capital groups across the United States with struggling, upstart businesses in poor or downtrodden locales. Currently, CDVCA oversees 80 member organizations and works with 40 separate funds that invest in depressed communities.
Fast Company hopes you will take some inspiration from these examples, and then visit the Call to Action online. There, supporters may sign the declaration, exchange ideas for giving back, and nominate individuals or organizations that are making a unique contribution to the soul of the new economy. The Fast Company Web site will regularly visit and write about those nominees in an effort to spread the word... and the fervor.