Media Cause wins Gold from Inc. Best In Business Awards for Helping Nonprofits During Crisis
Like many others, even the mention of 2020 brings shivers down our collective spines and stressful looks to our faces. But in our case at Media Cause, it also brings pride and a sense of fulfillment that you can only achieve by giving back.
In addition to the work we do with nonprofits day-in and day-out, we launched three big initiatives this year designed to address the major challenges this year brought to light. First, we launched the Endangered Nonprofits Coalition to help struggling nonprofits by aiding them in raising money during the early days of COVID-19. Next, we launched the RiseUP Marketing Fellowship program to help address the lack of racial diversity in the marketing/advertising industry. And lastly, we completed nearly 50 pro bono engagements for nonprofits who were either struggling with COVID-19 related issues or were in the fight for racial equality.
So when I received an email from the Editor in Chief at Inc Magazine to inform me that Media Cause was awarded the Gold Medal on their 2020 Best in Business list for our business category, my heart filled with joy, but I wasn’t surprised.
Giving back has always been a part of our ethos here at Media Cause. For years, our team has organized quarterly volunteer events, we’ve donated to our clients at various times while crises have affected their organizations such as the Houston floods or California wildfires, and we reward every employee a stipend on their anniversary to donate to a charity of their choice. With 35 employees, we have a lot of anniversaries to celebrate and the donation impact gets more and more substantial.
When COVID hit the U.S. in March and it became clear that shutting down events and public programs were going to have a major financial impact on the nonprofit industry, we immediately began to think about how we could help. We needed to first support our team and our clients, then look for additional ways to impact the sector at large.
These first few months of COVID-19 were the most challenging I have faced as a CEO in the 10 years since I started Media Cause. The public health concerns for our team, the uncertainty of the pandemic, and the economic fall out were just some of the things that would keep me up at night. My role went from managing a growing business that had just hired a handful of new employees to thinking about how to respond to a 50% drop in revenue practically overnight, without any clue when the pandemic would slow down, or when our clients would be able to come back.
I knew that we were at a crossroads, one that admittedly, we had not sufficiently planned for. Laying off or furloughing staff was never a consideration, even if it was an obvious choice from a business perspective. Our team was simply too amazing to even think like that. It’s not just because they’re incredibly talented, but because they are great humans that I couldn’t imagine letting go during a global pandemic. I knew our first priority needed to be to take care of each other.
Our next priority was our clients. We reached out to our contacts to let them know that now was not the time to enforce contracts, that we were happy to pause our work or shift scopes if they were on the verge of financial hardship. We offered free office hours that allowed them to tap into additional resources if they wanted some fresh opinions in a brainstorm session or just wanted to talk about what we were seeing across the nonprofit landscape during these constantly changing times.
Then we began to put our heads together about how we could help our nonprofit community at large. We took the same free office hour concept that we offered our clients and made it available to any nonprofit. We started offering pro bono Google Ad Grant services to nonprofits that were struggling. And we launched a campaign to raise awareness for nonprofits that run the risk of going out of business due to their struggles with COVID-19, called the Endangered Nonprofit Coalition. We wanted to create a campaign that allowed organizations the ability to raise money while not burdening them with additional work, so we provided each organization a media toolkit that included social media graphics, social media copy, and general messaging to be used as needed.
In June, after George Floyd’s murder when racial justice and Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country and world, our teams’ grief turned to anger and a desire to do more. We took our COVID-19 relief model and opened it to social justice organizations. I told our team that I wanted to model our relief efforts after chef José Andrés’ amazing organization, World Central Kitchen, that feeds people in need during crises. But instead of feeding people, Media Cause would deliver free marketing and fundraising services to the nonprofits who are addressing crises as they arise but don’t have the funds to hire the support they need to scale their efforts.
We quickly realized that the free services for racial justice nonprofits were just the tip of the iceberg for how we could help. We discussed what role we could play to help address systemic racism in our country, focusing more narrowly on the overwhelmingly white industry we work in. We committed $100k to build a marketing fellowship program, focusing on access and opportunity, in order to help more diverse candidates enter the advertising and marketing industry.
Understanding the barriers to what seems to be the industry-standard fellowship program, we made meaningful changes to what we could offer our fellows. We pay Fellows a full-time salary for four months while they learn tactics, strategies, and soft skills by combining training, one-on-one mentorship, and pro bono projects for nonprofits. After several months of planning, we launched our pilot program for the RiseUp Marketing Fellowship. For our initial cohort, there are three Fellows, three mentors, and ten nonprofits involved. We’re looking forward to scaling this program with other partners in early 2021.
Again, when I received an email from the Editor in Chief at Inc Magazine to inform me that Media Cause was awarded the Gold Medal on their 2020 Best in Business list for our business category, my heart filled with joy, but I wasn’t surprised.
It’s an honor to receive this type of recognition from Inc Magazine, but how could I be surprised when I knew all of this good was happening around me.
I am beyond thankful for our team at Media Cause and the incredible spirit of giving back that we embody. The fulfillment from doing good is real but giving back also pays off from a business perspective. After facing a steep drop in revenue when COVID hit, we began to rebound by helping our clients navigate the challenging times in new ways, and by bringing on new clients that needed help more than ever. It has taken time to recover, but we’re now on track to close the year strong with our Q4 numbers slightly outpacing our pre-COVID numbers. Of course, we hope our business continues to grow, but one thing is for sure, no matter what happens we will continue giving back to the communities that need us the most.
About the Author
Eric Facas, Media Cause Founder & CEO
After 10+ years as a digital marketer for tech companies and startups Eric shifted course toward social impact in 2010, founding a purpose-led marketing agency Media Cause. As CEO Eric has led the agency’s growth into a market leader with hundreds of nonprofit and mission driven clients and offices in San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. Eric’s passion for developing scalable solutions to important global issues has continued with the creation of the advocacy platform, Rally Starter, and nonprofit incubator Social Good Labs.
Earlier in his career Eric spent five years at Google where he helped launch new programs, built teams, and ran Google’s SEM Agency Council. In 2008 Eric received an EMG/Founder’s award from Google’s Executive Management Group for his work on the creation and rollout of the multi-billion dollar AdWords API program. When not at work Eric can be found hiking, mountain biking, or at the beach in Marin Country, CA or Kauai, HI with his family.