The 4th annual Philanthro retreat was held last month in Las Vegas. Each year, at this retreat, Philanthro members and volunteers from across the nation gather to share new ideas, goals, and lessons learned. As an organization, Philanthro strives to continually improve and find new ways to engage young professionals in philanthropic involvement. This year, the San Diego chapter brought new ideas that definitely embody Philanthro’s theme for 2013: reinvent. We are excited and anxious to implement and share our new ideas with you as 2013 rolls along, but essentially we’re aiming to make giving back even easier by giving you the tools to get more directly involved with fundraising for your favorite causes.
For the past few years, Zappos has been involved with our annual retreats as a leading force in the betterment of their own downtown Las Vegas community. 2013 was no exception as we were given a short inside look into their headquarters and plans for their Downtown Project. A key takeaway idea was the concept of making decisions based on the potential ROC (return on culture), not ROI. Simplified, their approach to deciding what proposals to fund are based on how they can benefit the community rather than how much profit they can make. Businesses and services are chosen to fill a niche in the thriving cultural ecosystem Zappos envisions for the lackluster neighborhood away from the bright lights of the Strip people typically associate with Las Vegas.
However, to date, all we had to see were designer renderings and a wall adorned with post-its, serving as their living drawing board, housing the best ideas that have made the cut. Our tour ended at one of their first realized ideas – above an unassuming coffeshop just blocks away from the Fremont Street Experience, is a private library with programming books and meeting spaces that has become the hub of Las Vegas’ emerging start-up network.
Needless to say, we left feeling inspired. Unfortunately, we dont have the financial resources that a huge company like Zappos does, so undoubtedly, the financial realities of any project play a huge part in the decision making process, in Philanthro’s operations and in life, in general. But if anything can be immediately and universally adapted is the exercise of, once in a while, stepping back and looking at decisions from the return-on-culture perspective. The challenge then, is to forget about monetary limitations and to figure out creative ways to bring those culturally rich ideas to life.
If money was no object, what culturally beneficial ideas would you like to see happen in San Diego?