Last Thursday’s “regulars” at Café Bravo were witness to an unusual sight: in the lobby of the Berliner Kunstwerker – one of Berlins leading institutions for contemporary art –a small crowd (of men) were gathered, all with lap tops under their arm, speaking into their headsets over Skype or mobiles, taking their last instructions before being punctually summoned into the meeting room of KW at the first meeting of the betterplace Advisory Board.
Almost exactly a year after launching betterplace.org online, we had the chance to gather almost all the individuals who have supported us with their advice and expertise over the past year.
Alongside successful internet entrepreneurs such as Stefan Morschheuser from hotel.de, Matthias Entenmann (betfair), Mehrdad Priroozram (iSteps) and Rüdiger Trautmann (Wirecard), sat equally impressive “old-economy” individuals such as Hans-Jürgen Cramer, who until the summer was CEO at energy provider Vattenfall, and now spends one day of his week in the betterplace office, as well as Dr. Maritta Koch Weser, an inspiring visionary in the field of social entrepreneurship. Representing the Foundations was Dr. Martin Pape and Albrecht Graf von Hardenberg, who for many years have pushed the issue of “micro-sending”. Our communication partners and supporters, Axel Pfennigschmidt from Agentur PULK, Matthias Dietz from Schindler Parent Identity and Marketing expert Alexander Hornikel , added their valuable contribution to the discussion table.
Opportunities and Challenges from the year 2008
The morning was spent presenting and identifying the developments and challenges of the last 12 months. A great deal of the work and time spent by the betterplace team, is not immediately visible to betterplace users – neither are the legal and financial foundations on which the platform is built, and the ongoing maintenance of relations with donors and NGOs.
Till helped to place betterplace in context of other existing online market places (having been well briefed and introduced from a recent conference in Stanford), and presented the efficiency and effectiveness of online giving markets in changing the non-profit sector.
I then presented 4 different types of projects as they are presented on betterplace, each using the platform in their own dynamic way (from a large organisation such as CARE, to a small grassroots project in Bhutan or partnerships with projects and organizations such as Cinema Jenin and WTO). Moritz Eckert and Jörg Rheinboldt described the work done within PR and Marketing, followed by Michael Tuchen and Stephan Schwahlen opening our financial books.
Gesine Schwan and Peter Eigen talk about social innovation
After lunch, Gesine Schwan und Peter Eigen joined the meeting, and led a discussion on the development of social innovation in Germany. Both Peter – co-founder of Transparency International – and Gesine committed their support to betterplace – and we look forward to holding them to their word!
Looking to the future
The afternoon session was dedicated to presenting our past and upcoming betterplace CSR products: These included “Teaming” (where employees are actively engaged in a payroll giving scheme, and together with the corporation they work for decide where and how the CSR budget is spent), Christmas Giving and Disaster Relief packages, whereby corporations and their employees are provided with a package that allows them to respond with aid to a humanitarian disaster anywhere in the world within 24 hours.
The positive and constructive feedback given by all who took part, not only in the area of product sales but also on financial sustainability of betterplace, was of priceless value to us. It was a privilege to have so many experienced and knowledgeable individuals sitting around one table giving their input and creative ideas towards growing the betterplace idea.
Caipirinhias with the Team
After a relaxed and tasty dinner at Zagreus, we continued on to the Greenwich Bar, where we met up with the whole team, and together toasted a couple rounds of Caipirinhias to the future of betterplace. Although it was 12 hours of intense brainstorming, presentation and discussion, we felt energized and inspired by the day’s success. A big thank you to you all for making it possible (also to Annika and Guya and the KW Team)!
We will do our best to follow your good advise, your leads and take you up on your pledge of support. We look forward to meeting up with you again in the new year, and hope that those who were not able to attend this year*, will be able to join us.
*including Dr. Bernd Kundrun (Gruner + Jahr), Hanns Michael Hölz (Deutsche Bank) and Martin Enderle (Scout 24), Eran Davidson, (Hasso Plattner Ventures), Thomas Heilmann (ex. Scholz & Friends), Daniel Wild, Axel Schmiegelow (Denkwerk / Sevenload), Markus Hipp (BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt), Loring Sittler, (AMB Generali), Ralf Fücks (Böll Foundation), Stephan Balzer (RedOnion)