By: Kevin Kalra, Senior Project Coordinator, Global Business Coalition for Education
Many companies have been engaged in global education through diverse programs and cause marketing but have struggled to achieve lasting impact. However, with the emergence of social technologies, brief moments that highlight global education have evolved into movements for change that galvanize consumers, employees, investors, and the public for global education.
The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) hosted Tech4Ed: London – Harnessing the Digital Power of Business for Education Campaigns at Facebook’s London headquarters, the first in its 2014 Tech4Ed event series. The two-panel Forum, moderated by GBC-Education Executive Chair Sarah Brown and Advisory Board Member Justin van Fleet, was held at Facebook’s London headquarters and the first of GBC-Education’s 2014 Tech4Ed event series.
Intel’s Senior Director Global Education Strategy Martina Roth, GUCCI’s Chief Marketing Officer Robert Treifus, and HP’s Director of Economic Progress Initiatives Jeanette Weisschuh were active participants in the discussions, sharing key learning from their successful global campaigns. Intel is a founding sponsor of 10×10’s Girl Rising, a global action campaign for girls’ education. GUCCI created CHIME FOR CHANGE, a global campaign to raise funds and awareness for girls’ and women’s empowerment through education, health and justice. HP coordinates HP LIFE, an entrepreneurship education initiative, and sponsors the Global Poverty Project. The company seeks to improve economic growth through education. All these campaigns have a reach of over half a million total “likes” on Facebook.
Why Invest in Global Education?
“The betterment of society is not a job to be left to the few. It is the responsibility of us all”
– HP Founder David Packard
The companies chose to invest in education because it is fundamental to their corporate identity and leadership philosophy. GUCCI advised that successful campaigns – and more broadly, CSR efforts – are most effective with leadership buy-in. Campaigns should involve C-level leadership from the start. Intel and HP see education as intrinsic to their corporate culture. They realized that continuous learning and education were critical to their founders’ success.
Tips of the Trade: Harnessing the Digital Power of Business
Three strategies emerged when companies were creating their global campaigns, and technology played a critical role:
1. Democratize participation: Companies chose technologies that democratized participation in their movements. GUCCI, for example, leverages the Catapult crowdfunding platform, which empowers users to choose and invest in projects for girls and women’s empowerment. Intel leveraged GATHR – a website for movie lovers to unite and request films in their neighborhoods. The Global Citizen Festival, an effort by the Global Poverty Project and HP, developed a point system. Users had to “like” NGO projects through their custom platform and win points to earn a ticket.
2. Create digital communities: Companies empowered participants to create their own communities, multiplying the impact of the campaign. Intel, for example, distributed DVDs of Girl Rising to advocates and communities around the world for free movie hosting. Creating an advocacy-related product – like a film – builds digital communities to help a campaign travel farther and expand its reach.
3. Connect the external campaign to internal assets: Intel built a movement that connected its external digital campaign with its internal core assets and boosted employee morale. The company brought together its corporate foundation, marketing, and HR departments to create internal programs, like Hack-a-thons, that helped advance its cause and communicated results online.
Learning from the NGO Sector
NGOs know how to mobilize diverse groups of people for action. Tech4Ed convened 38 Degrees’ Technical Director Cian O’Donovan, ONE’s Europe Executive Director Adrian Lovett, and Change.org‘s Senior Campaigner Katherine Sladden to discuss elements of effective campaigns:
1. Use authentic, personal stories: These stories emerge quickly from the information overload present on the Internet. Use real stories to drive campaigning and share them using videos or vines. During the Global Citizen Concert, HP shared the story of Bano Fatima, the winner of its HP LIFE Entrepreneur Contest, to showcase the importance of entrepreneurship education to improve economic growth.
2. Don’t underestimate loose networks: Personal networks create an echo chamber for a campaign story. Part of Malala’s success was how her networks supported her story. Before Malala Day, she was a BBC Blogger and participated in a camp for young girls hosted by university students. These loose networks helped build her iconic status, allowing others to take up her cause like A World at School.
3. Report back: Campaign supporters should be valued and organizers should share the outcome of the campaign’s efforts. Reporting back on a campaign’s success (or failure) helps earn supporters’ loyalty for future campaigns.
The way business engages its stakeholders – from consumers to employees to investors – has profoundly changed with emerging social technologies. By building effective campaigns on social issues – like education – companies can not only widen their reach but also be instigators of social change.
Join the Movement
Photo © Global Business Coalition for Education/2014/Hollier
Kevin Kalra is a Senior Project Coordinator at the Global Business Coalition for Education. He was Lead Consultant for The Smartest Investment – a joint initiative by UNESCO, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact, and the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. He formerly worked in the oil and gas industry.