This week, For Momentum interviews David Hessekiel, President and Founder of Engage for Good (formerly Cause Marketing Forum). We ask David five questions that will help you learn more about Engage for Good, the cause community and David.
David Hessekiel founded Engage for Good 15 years ago. He also founded and has served as President of Peer-to Peer Professional Forum (formerly Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council) for 12 years. David frequently takes the pulse of the philanthropy community and keeps his eye on the latest trends. Let’s Take 5 with David:
Look into your crystal ball…what’s the next big thing in cause marketing?
The next big thing is the multiplicity of things that now fall under the umbrella of what we call corporate social initiatives. When we launched back in 2002, most programs followed the formula of company A adopts nonprofit B and makes them the hero of their campaign via promotions that link donations to consumer actions.
Transactional programs remain a tactical mainstay in our field, but it’s inspiring to see the breadth and depth of the types of programs at the intersection of purpose and profit.
At our May 31/June 1 Engage for Good conference in Chicago we’re showcasing this diversity through program segments focused on employee engagement, advocacy, corporate social marketing leveraging behavioral economics, shared value and, of course, consumer-facing initiatives.
What’s the most amazing thing people should know about you or your job?
I started my career as a freelance writer in Mexico and then a newspaper reporter in Connecticut. Although I’m no longer a traditional journalist, what I love about my job is the fact that it gives me an excuse to call up people doing amazing things and interview them nearly every day. Just yesterday I got “the story behind the story” of “Buy The Lady a Drink” the impressive global collaboration between Stella Artois and Water.org
What do you wish people knew about Engage for Good and Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum?
The background, statistics, case studies and training tools that exist on those sites can help nearly any professional in our field gain new skills and insights – and save time gathering the data they need to make more compelling presentations.
What person has had the most influence on your cause career?
I bootstrapped the launch of Cause Marketing Forum in 2002 from an unfinished cinder block basement “office” in my home after the dotcom I’d been working on went under. The people who had the greatest influence on my career were the folks who took a chance on working with and supporting me when CMF was just an idea.
Folks like Patricia Lippe Davis who led the charge to have Reader’s Digest be our first sponsor, and Kurt Aschermann, then the CMO/CDO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the first “name” in our field who agreed to give the first keynote at the first conference.
Neither are actively involved with us 15 years later, but they remain friends and the memory of how they helped me inspires me to speak with and try to support budding social entrepreneurs.
What are the biggest challenges facing nonprofits and corporate partners as they strive to make an impact in communities and on the bottom line?
Innumerable examples over the years have shown that well-constructed, appropriately resourced corporate social initiatives can yield impressive social and financial dividends but they require careful “care and feeding.” In our all-too-often short-term oriented world, it can remain a challenge to get the necessary support from the c-suites of companies and causes to nurture and grow these programs.
Five Fun Facts About David:
- Favorite App: Google Maps – amazing the places it has helped me find!
- Last Book Read: Alec Baldwin’s memoir Nevertheless – like so much in life he is a bundle of contradictions. Philanthropic, politically active, talented – and prone to self-destructive behavior
- Hobby: I love to travel and I’m a bargain hunter so I spend an inordinate amount of time managing/gaming my frequent traveler accounts. Just scored two business class tickets to Guatemala at half price using Amex points – I could go on and on!
- Favorite Place to Unwind: Walking on the boardwalk, smelling the salt air of the Long Island Sound here in my beachside town of Rye, NY
- Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate brioche at The Kneaded Bread, a bakery café in Port Chester, NY. I’m going to the gym now to try to work off this indulgence!